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:

Language:

Release Date:

5 January 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Life of Stephen Foster  »

Company Credits

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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

In this movie, Stephen Foster marries a girl from the South, but in real life, his wife was from Pittsburgh. 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 ...
[...]
See more »

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

Beautiful Dreamer
Written by Stephen Foster
See more »

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User Reviews

No Way
22 November 2001 | by (LA CA) – See all my reviews

Proof that not every 1939 release was part of the Golden Age. It's the life and not-so-hard times of Stephen Foster (Don Ameche), who despite a heart condition and a taste for the drink manages to crank out hit after hit. This is the cliched sort of composer bio in which every key event turns out to be instant inspiration for a new ditty, and the moment an on-screen audience hears a new song it can immediately join in for a reprise and know all the words. Still, Al Jolson is sturdy as E.P. Christy, the Technicolor is ravishing, and there are several convincing recreations of minstrel show numbers...and that last fact is why you won't see this film around, no way.

It's just not P.C. to show all that blackface any more, let alone the condescending approach to black people. (When Foster has ripped off "Oh Susannah" from a slave work song but is stuck on the last line, Jeannie--she of the light brown hair fame--comments that she's grown up among black music, their simple culture..."Hmmm...Here's how I think the Negroes would end it." Bingo, smash hit.) "Swanee River" is no great shakes as a movie, but it's a shame that people can't see it because of cowardice.


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