5.5/10
145
9 user 4 critic

Way Down South (1939)

Approved | | Crime, Music | 21 July 1939 (USA)
In the pre-Civil War South, a plantation owner dies and leaves all his possessions, including his slaves, to his young son. While the deceased treated his slaves decently, his corrupt ... See full summary »

Writers:

(original story and screenplay), (original story and screenplay)
Reviews

Watch Now

With Prime Video

WATCH NOW
ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Golden Boy (1939)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Despite his musical talent, Joe Bonaparte wants to be a boxer.

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou, William Holden
Romance | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A concert violinist becomes charmed with his daughter's talented piano teacher. When he invites her to go on tour with him, they make beautiful music away from the concert hall as well. He ... See full summary »

Director: Gregory Ratoff
Stars: Ingrid Bergman, Leslie Howard, Edna Best
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The adventurous Lady Edwina Esketh travels to the princely state of Ranchipur in India with her husband, Lord Albert Esketh, who is there to purchase some of the Maharajah's horses. She's ... See full summary »

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Myrna Loy, Tyrone Power, George Brent
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When lovely and virtuous governess Henriette Deluzy comes to educate the children of the debonair Duc de Praslin, a royal subject to King Louis-Philippe and the husband of the volatile and ... See full summary »

Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Bette Davis, Charles Boyer, Jeffrey Lynn
Swanee River (1939)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

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: Sidney Lanfield
Stars: Don Ameche, Andrea Leeds, Al Jolson
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Romance and heartbreak walk hand-in-hand when Philip Chagal accidentally meets Helen Lawrence in a restaurant where she is a waitress. Unhappily married to a woman who suffers from mental ... See full summary »

Director: John M. Stahl
Stars: Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer, Barbara O'Neil
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Thrown out of the Riviera, a family of grifters meets a lonely, vulnerable rich old woman and insinuate themselves into her life while they sponge off her.

Directors: Richard Wallace, Lewis Milestone, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Roland Young
Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

When her father dies, a young woman helps a young man take command of the ship to fight the British during the war of 1812.

Director: Richard Wallace
Stars: Victor Mature, Louise Platt, Leo Carrillo
Adventure | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Because of a fight at a dog show between "Smoky" and "Shadow", Alsatian Shepherd dos, owned and trained by Judy Weston, "Smoky" loses first prize. Judy sells "Shadow", but Ben, the trainer,... See full summary »

Director: Howard Bretherton
Stars: Michael Whalen, Grace Bradley, Darryl Hickman
Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A young boy is forced to leave his family in the South and move in with relatives he doesn't know in New York.

Director: Kurt Neumann
Stars: Bobby Breen, May Robson, Charles Butterworth
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

After Larry Darrent accidentally kills his lover's blackmailing husband, someone else is arrested for the crime. When he is found guilty, Larry and Wanda have just three weeks together ... See full summary »

Director: Basil Dean
Stars: Vivien Leigh, Leslie Banks, Laurence Olivier
Primrose Path (1940)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Girl from the "wrong" side of the tracks falls in love with an ambitious young man from the "right" side of the tracks.

Director: Gregory La Cava
Stars: Ginger Rogers, Joel McCrea, Marjorie Rambeau
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Timothy Reid Jr.
...
Jacques Bouton
...
Timothy Reid Sr.
...
Pauline
...
Uncle Caton
...
Claire Bouton
...
Martin Dill
...
Cass
Robert Greig ...
Judge Ravenal
Lillian Yarbo ...
Janie
...
Gumbo (as Stymie Beard)
Hall Johnson Choir
Edit

Storyline

In the pre-Civil War South, a plantation owner dies and leaves all his possessions, including his slaves, to his young son. While the deceased treated his slaves decently, his corrupt executor abuses them unmercifully, beating them without provocation, and he is planning to sell off the father'e estate--including the slaves--at the earliest opportunity so he and his mistress can steal the money and move to France. The young boy doesn't want to sell his father's estate or break up an of the slave families, and he has to find someone to help him thwart the crooked executor's plans. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

HELP YOURSELF TO HAPPINESS! HERE'S A WHILE SHOW-FULL! (original poster - all caps)

Genres:

Crime | Music

Certificate:

Approved
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 July 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La strada del sud  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The earliest documented telecasts of this film took place in Los Angeles Saturday 30 July 1949 on KTLA (Channel 5) and in New York City Saturday 9 September 1950 on WPIX (Channel 11). See more »

Goofs

When explaining the law involving the executor of an estate, Mr. Bouton refers to the "Commonwealth of Louisiana." However, "commonwealth" is a specific designation for only four US states, not including Louisiana. The proper designation would have been "State of Louisiana." See more »

Soundtracks

Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
(uncredited)
Traditional Negro spiritual
Sung by Bobby Breen with backup by the Hall Johnson Choir
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
In the same year as Gone With The Wind
7 March 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

This small, unpretentious, but very wonderful film from the combined pens of Langston Hughes and actor Clarence Muse is one of the very few films that deals with slavery and from the point of view of the slave. Remarkable also that this came out in the same year as Gone With The Wind which dealt with the lost Confederacy which founded on the notion of keeping slavery alive in North America.

Muse and Hughes also borrowed a great deal from Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn in developing the relationship of the young master Bobby Breen and house servant Muse. Breen while still a minor child inherits father Ralph Morgan's plantation and unfortunately an executor in the person of Edwin Maxwell.

Maxwell wants to basically loot the estate, in the meantime he hires a very cruel overseer in Charles Middleton. When Muse does voice some mild objection to new policies instituted, Maxwell says he'll sell him. Breen and Muse make an escape worthy of Huck Finn and Jim and with Muse in drag and a veil they check into a posh New Orleans hotel operated by Alan Mowbray who is a Creole character out of Charles Dickens. Eventually they learn that Maxwell just wants to sell all the slaves and take the profits and run. Of course the slaves who have families don't have any say in the matter. In fact some whippings are dished out by Middleton though we never actually see one.

The Hall Johnson Choir play the plantation slaves and they have several numbers singing Negro spirituals both happy and sad depending on the mood of the film. Breen also sings some songs like Oh Dem Golden Slippers and Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child with the Choir. Also at Mowbray's dinner table Breen sings Stephen Foster's Some Folks Do which was my favorite musical number.

This film should be seen and revived as a great treatise on the slave experience. There is some stereotyping, but it's done in the context of the condition and servitude of the slaves and there is never any demeaning of anyone in this film. And when you've Langston Hughes and Clarence Muse taking some inspiration from such authors and Twain and Dickens you know this film is something special.

A lot of people in this cast from Bobby Breen on down got career roles here. Way Down South should be bought or rented at Amazon, it's a wonderful and moving viewing experience.


11 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?