5.6/10
151
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... 

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
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
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Long-missing Bill Cardew returns to find his wife Vicky remarried...and in no hurry to settle for just one husband.

Director: Wesley Ruggles
Stars: Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray, Melvyn Douglas
Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Rita Hayworth co-stars with famed recording artist Tony Martin in this musical comedy featuring the music of Andre Kostelanetz and his orchestra. Following various comic misunderstandings, ... See full summary »

Director: Joseph Santley
Stars: Tony Martin, Rita Hayworth, Edith Fellows
Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A New York bandleader journeys to Hollywood when he is offered a contract with a studio, but he is determined to do things his way and not theirs.

Director: Victor Schertzinger
Stars: James Cagney, Evelyn Daw, William Frawley
The Spoilers (1942)
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

In Nome, Alaska, miner Roy Glennister and his partner Dextry, financed by saloon entertainer Cherry Malotte, fight to save their gold claim from crooked commissioner Alexander McNamara.

Director: Ray Enright
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott, John Wayne
Dr. Cyclops (1940)
Adventure | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A mad scientist working in the South American jungle miniaturizes his colleagues when he feels his megalomania is threatened.

Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack
Stars: Albert Dekker, Thomas Coley, Janice Logan
Comedy | Horror | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

The manager of Kay Kyser's band books them for a birthday party bash for an heiress at a spooky mansion, where sinister forces try to kill her.

Director: David Butler
Stars: Kay Kyser, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The owner of a coal mining operation, falsely imprisoned for fratricide, takes a drug to make him invisible, despite its side effect: gradual madness.

Director: Joe May
Stars: Cedric Hardwicke, Vincent Price, Nan Grey
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Carlo Roma and his foster-son, Toma, and their friend Beppo, are living a happy fisherman's life in San Francisco until Carlo's widowed sister-in-law, Stella, shows up with her brat-son, ... See full summary »

Director: Bernard Vorhaus
Stars: Bobby Breen, Leo Carrillo, Henry Armetta
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A cuckolded embezzler on the verge of suicide is helped by a tout, an alcoholic playwright, and a pick-up girl to reimburse the money with a gambling sting.

Directors: Ben Hecht, Lee Garmes
Stars: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Timothy Reid Sr.
...
...
Uncle Caton
...
...
Martin Dill
...
Cass
...
Judge Ravenal
...
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 more 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

Nobody Knows De Trouble I've Seen
(uncredited)
Traditional Negro spiritual
Hummed offscreen by the Hall Johnson Choir for the slaves onscreen
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 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? | Report this
Review this title | See all 9 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page