More fictional than factual biography of Stephen Foster. Songwriter from Pittsburgh falls in love with the South, marries a Southern gal (Leeds), then is accused of sympathizing when the ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Bones
...
Andrew McDowell
George Reed ...
Old Joe, McDowell's Coachman
Richard Clarke ...
Tom Harper
Diane Fisher ...
Marion Foster
George P. Breakston ...
Ambrose
Al Herman ...
Tambo
...
Mr. Foster
...
Henry Foster
Leona Roberts ...
Mrs. Foster
...
Morrison Foster
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Storyline

More fictional than factual biography of Stephen Foster. Songwriter from Pittsburgh falls in love with the South, marries a Southern gal (Leeds), then is accused of sympathizing when the Civil War breaks out. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Story of Stephen C. Foster - The Great American Troubadour See more »

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

5 January 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Life of Stephen Foster  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The last credited on screen performance of Al Jolson. See more »

Goofs

The film's final scene is wholly inaccurate; there was no performance by E.P. Christy on the day that Foster died. In reality, Christy actually died nearly two years before Foster; he committed suicide by throwing himself from a window at his home in New York City in May 1862; Foster himself died in January 1864. See more »

Quotes

Stephen Foster: [he whistles a version of Oh! Susanna] That ending isn't right yet.
Jane McDowell Foster: You know, I think the Negroes would finish it like this
[she whistles the tune]
Stephen Foster: Why, that's right! How did you know?
Jane McDowell Foster: You forget, I was brought up on Negro music.
Stephen Foster: I wish I'd been. As I boy in Pittsburgh, I heard just enough of it to want to hear more. I'd a colored nurse you know. Sometimes, she'd take me down to their little church by the river, I heard "Sweet Chariot", "Roll Jordan", all the rest.
Jane McDowell Foster: There's nothing like them, is ...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

[prologue] This is the strange story of a Northern youth to whom the Southland brought immortal inspiration.....Though his stormy life is long forgotten, his simple words and simple music live on in the hearts of the whole American people. See more »

Connections

Version of Harmony Lane (1935) See more »

Soundtracks

Ring de Banjo
Written by Stephen Foster
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User Reviews

 
Eye & Ear Candy
17 November 2001 | by (brighton, ma) – See all my reviews

This is hardly an accurate biography of songwriter Stephen Foster, but it's an awfully good movie thanks to its beautiful score, breathtaking photography, and scenic design. Its pictorialization of antebellum America and the South in particular rival the same year's Gone With the Wind. Producer Darryl Zanuck was especially gifted at producing these Techniciolor extravaganzas, and this one's as good as it gets. Even if one can't stand the story,--and it's a sad one--the movie is worth seeing and hearing for the remarkable skill with which it was made. Don Ameche is a pleasing Foster, and Al Jolson is on hand as Christy (of the OLD Christy Minstrels fame), and sings the songs with a gleefully vaudevillean relish which at times seems a bit over the top for the historical period. On the other hand the movie seems quite accurate in other respects and feels, to me, more like nineteenth century America than 1939.


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