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

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

"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on April 2, 1945 with Al Jolson reprising his film role. 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 ...
[...]
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

Referenced in Love Letter to Edie (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Curry a Mule
Written by Sidney Lanfield & Louis Silvers
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User Reviews

Don Ameche Redeems a Cumbersome Bio-Pic
26 October 2003 | by (Ottawa) – See all my reviews

"Swanee River", an extravagant Fox production directed by Sidney Lanfield, is one of those polished, ambitious and somewhat cumbersome biographies of notable figures that were frequent in late 30s and early 40s in Hollywood. Along with this one, there were pictures like "Story of Alexander Graham Bell", "Abe Lincoln in Illinois", "Life of Emile Zola", "Lillian Russell", and "Juarez". Don Ameche, a talented actor and performer who has a great dynamic presence on the screen, redeems this sternly stolid and schmaltzy biography of the legendary composer Stephen Foster. Al Jolson co-stars, and continues to sing his "Mammy" renditions, but they ultimately stick in your throat and become lifeless. I didn't care for Stephen Foster, though I have to admit I really liked his tunes. But in all honesty, I kept watching "Swanee River" because of Ameche.


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