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 »

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

Photos

Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comrade X (1940)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

An American reporter smuggling news out of Soviet Moscow is blackmailed into helping a beautiful Communist leave the country.

Director: King Vidor
Stars: Clark Gable, Hedy Lamarr, Oskar Homolka
Josette (1938)
Comedy | Crime | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Two young men try to wrest their father from the clutches of a gold digger but by mistake think the woman is a young nightclub singer with whom they both fall in love.

Director: Allan Dwan
Stars: Don Ameche, Simone Simon, Robert Young
Biography | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Life story of the musical star from her discovery in 1890 by band leader Tony Pastor till her retirement in 1912 when she married newspaperman Alexander Moore.

Director: Irving Cummings
Stars: Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Henry Fonda
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Starving playwright Judith Wells meets playboy writer of musicals, George Macrae, over a plate of stolen spaghetti. He persuades producer Sam Gordon to buy her ridiculous play "North Winds"... See full summary »

Director: Norman Taurog
Stars: Alice Faye, The Ritz Brothers, Don Ameche
Happy Landing (1938)
Comedy | Musical | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Bandleader (Romero and manager (Ameche) discover skater (Henie) in Norway. They become rivals as she returns with them to America.

Director: Roy Del Ruth
Stars: Sonja Henie, Don Ameche, Jean Hersholt
Girl Trouble (1942)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A South American in New York rents the apartment of a socialite who pretends to be his maid.

Director: Harold D. Schuster
Stars: Don Ameche, Joan Bennett, Billie Burke
Love Is News (1937)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Financier's daughter spars with newspaper reporter: he by writing about her, she by announcing their engagement.

Director: Tay Garnett
Stars: Tyrone Power, Loretta Young, Don Ameche
Ramona (1936)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Half-Indian girl brought up in a wealthy household is loved by the son of the house against his family's wishes and loves another Indian employed by the household.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Loretta Young, Don Ameche, Kent Taylor
Action | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The O'Leary brothers -- honest Jack and roguish Dion -- become powerful figures, and eventually rivals, in Chicago on the eve of its Great Fire.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Don Ameche
Gateway (1938)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Irish immigrant meets returning war correspondent on a liner bound for New York. When she resists the amours of another passenger, charges result in her being detained at Ellis Island.

Director: Alfred L. Werker
Stars: Don Ameche, Arleen Whelan, Gregory Ratoff
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Starting in 1913 movie director Connors discovers singer Molly Adair. As she becomes a star she marries an actor, so Connors fires them. She asks for him as director of her next film. Many silent stars shown making the transition to sound.

Directors: Irving Cummings, Buster Keaton, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Alice Faye, Don Ameche, J. Edward Bromberg
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Alexander Graham Bell falls in love with deaf girl Mabel Hubbard while teaching the deaf and trying to invent means for telegraphing the human voice. She urges him to put off thoughts of ... See full summary »

Director: Irving Cummings
Stars: Don Ameche, Loretta Young, Henry Fonda
Edit

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
Edit

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:

YOU"LL Thrill To the Songs...the Romances of STEPHEN FOSTER!! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Edit

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
See  »
Edit

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 »

Connections

Remade as I Dream of Jeanie (1952) See more »

Soundtracks

Beautiful Dreamer
Written by Stephen Foster
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
The last moment was ridiculous
22 May 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I am giving this film a "6" because of my fondness for Stephen Foster's melodies (and my pity for his fate), and because - whatever one thinks of his racist "blackface" act, Al Jolson was a wonderful singer. If it had been shot as a concert film of Foster's best tunes, it would have been worth an "9" or even a "10". Instead it is tied to one of those idiotic Hollywood composer biographies. It is a sub-set to Hollywood biographies, all of which have fact problems. Here it is trying to concentrate on Foster's alcoholism (a fact), but not on the business problems he confronted in his career.

Foster was the first American composer of lasting merit (although his contemporary Louis Moreau Gottschalk came close). His compositions were totally composed by him (including lyrics). But he never had any business abilities, so that while tunes like "Old Folks At Home", "Beautiful Dreamer", "The Camptown Races", "I Dream of Jeannie" and "Oh Susannah" were massive popular hits, Foster got remarkably little of the profits. Added to his problems were the lack of efficient copy-write protection in the U.S. (or on the globe, for that matter) to prevent pirating of his work. He was also the first composer who tried to live on the successful profits of his compositions. Had he been frugal, and not a drinker, it just might have worked (for a few years he did prosper), but he fumbled it. His last years were spent still composing, but living as a Bowery derelict. His end is not quite the melodrama of the film - he fell in his room cutting himself (not cutting his throat). Due to his alcoholic condition weakening his body, he died a few days later in Bellevue Hospital.

Don Ameche is a terrific actor, and does what he can here - but it reminds us of an extended development of his Edward Salomon (Lillian Russell's doomed composer husband) in the Russsell biography. He is talented - greatly so - but drink and ill health doom her here. No new extension of his acting range as Foster.

By 1939 I wonder if there was increasing criticism by African - American groups regarding stereotyping in Hollywood. Probably not too much yet, or at least enough for the industry to take notice. Films about D.D.Emmett (DIXIE), and other films with minstrel segments in them would still appear within the next decade. It really is not until the end of the 1940s and into the 1950s that an effect of World War II is felt - a dislike for the disparate treatment of African Americans - and begins to have an impact. So the minstrel portions, historically correct (unfortunately), were totally acceptable in this film in 1939.

Oddly enough, given the accidental tragedy that ends this film, the fate of E.E.Christy is overlooked. Christy apparently had a nervous breakdown in the 1860s, and threw himself out of a window. One would not know that watching Jolson's performance, based on this script.

The concluding moment of this film always stuck in my craw. Tragically announcing the death of Foster at what was supposed to be the benefit to resurrect his career, Christy/Jolson announces the first performance of Foster's latest and greatest tune. He starts singing "Old Folks At Home" (renamed "Swanee River" - as in the film title), Jolson starts singing it (remember for the first time). When the music reaches the chorus, "All the world is sad and weary..." the whole audience arose and sang it's chorus lines. Remarkable example of massive psychic transference, or poor screenplay writing: I leave it to the viewer to guess which.


11 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Swanee River (1939) brianmckeever33
JOLSON STORY style Kickstarter larrystopmo-1
Discuss Swanee River (1939) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?