5.5/10
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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)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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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
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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
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 July 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La strada del sud  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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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 »

Soundtracks

Nobody Knows De Trouble I've Seen
(uncredited)
Traditional Negro spiritual
Hummed offscreen by the Hall Johnson Choir for the slaves onscreen
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User Reviews

Decent Race Film
27 February 2008 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Way Down South (1939)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Interesting race picture from RKO features two black writers (Clarence Muse, Langston Hughes) doing the screenplay. Set before the Civil War, a plantation owner dies leaving his farm and slaves to his young son (Bobby Breen). Soon an executive comes into play and tries to sell the slaves but the young kid won't stand for this as the slaves are his only friends. It's interesting to see a Hollywood picture from this era treating blacks with any sort of respect and in many ways it's more respectful than many of the other race pictures that I've seen, which were made by black directors. The film only runs 61-minutes so the drama of slavery isn't ever really looked at and the film would later be criticized by the NAACP for showing "happy slaves". The films main goal is to have a spotlight for the young Breen and he's pretty good here, although his musical numbers aren't anything special.


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