5.5/10
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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)
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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:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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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 »

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

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

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User Reviews

 
Weird and politically incorrect but entertaining...
23 February 2013 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

"Way Down South" is based on a story by Langston Hughes and the screenplay was written by Clarence Muse--who also was a major character in the film. "Way Down South" is bound to play a lot differently today than when it debuted in 1939. The notion of happy and well-fed slaves is far from politically correct and I am sure many will blanch at this antiquated view of the Old South. While I am sure some slave owners were more benign in how their treated blacks, they still were slaves!! Oddly, Hughes and Muse were black men and, in an odd way, the film was progressive for its time as it promoted fair treatment of blacks...but they still were slaves!!

The film stars one of the more unusual stars in Hollywood history, Bobby Breen. Breen was a child star who only appeared in nine films--though they were starring roles. His AMAZING voice cannot be described--you just need to see and hear him for yourself. The films he made were mostly pleasant but forgettable pictures--though it's easy to like the boy in the films as he always seemed incredibly nice.

When the film begins, Bobby is very happy and the family's slaves on the plantation are equally happy. In fact, Bobby's best friend is one of the slaves (Stymie Beard of the Our Gang films)! But, when Bobby's father dies unexpectedly, his father's executor comes in and dramatically changes the place--selling slaves and beating them soundly. But Bobby can't stand to see his friends treated that way. Plus, what he doesn't know is that the executor actually is planning on taking EVERYTHING for himself! What's to happen of Bobby and the happy slaves?! This is an odd film in that it IS entertaining but it is a bit uncomfortable as well due to the odd subject matter. Well made but weird...that's for sure!


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