IMDb > Way Down South (1939)

Way Down South (1939) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

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5.5/10   120 votes »
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Down 16% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers:
Clarence Muse (original story and screenplay) and
Langston Hughes (original story and screenplay)
Contact:
View company contact information for Way Down South on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
21 July 1939 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
HELP YOURSELF TO HAPPINESS! HERE'S A WHILE SHOW-FULL! (original poster - all caps)
Plot:
In the pre-Civil War South, a plantation owner dies and leaves all his possessions, including his slaves... See more » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for Oscar. See more »
User Reviews:
In the same year as Gone With The Wind See more (8 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
Bobby Breen ... Timothy Reid Jr.

Alan Mowbray ... Jacques Bouton

Ralph Morgan ... Timothy Reid Sr.
Steffi Duna ... Pauline

Clarence Muse ... Uncle Caton

Sally Blane ... Claire Bouton

Edwin Maxwell ... Martin Dill

Charles Middleton ... Cass
Robert Greig ... Judge Ravenal
Lillian Yarbo ... Janie
Matthew 'Stymie' Beard ... Gumbo (as Stymie Beard)
Hall Johnson Choir
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Willie Best ... Chimney Sweep (uncredited)
Stanley Blystone ... Slave Auctioneer (uncredited)
Mildred Boyd ... Dancing Slave (uncredited)
Don Brodie ... Slave Buyer (uncredited)
Jack Carr ... Luke (uncredited)
Ed Cassidy ... Slave Trader (uncredited)
Jack Clisby ... Servant (uncredited)
Charles Dixon ... Drummer (uncredited)
Ruby Elzy ... Singer in Hall Johnson Choir (uncredited)
Louise Franklin ... Dancing Slave (uncredited)
Freddie Jackson ... Servant (uncredited)
Lillian Randolph ... Slave (uncredited)
Blue Washington ... Slave (uncredited)
Marguerite Whitten ... Lulu (uncredited)

Directed by
Leslie Goodwins 
Bernard Vorhaus 
 
Writing credits
Clarence Muse (original story and screenplay) and
Langston Hughes (original story and screenplay)

Produced by
Sol Lesser .... producer
Barney Briskin .... associate producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
Victor Young (uncredited)
 
Cinematography by
Charles Edgar Schoenbaum (photography) (as Charles Schoenbaum)
 
Film Editing by
Arthur Hilton (film editor)
 
Art Direction by
Lewis J. Rachmil 
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
John Sherwood .... assistant director
Lee Sholem .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Richard Van Hessen .... sound technician
 
Special Effects by
Vernon L. Walker .... special effects (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Albert Deano .... wardrobe (as Albert Deanno)
 
Music Department
Hall Johnson .... vocal arrangements
Victor Young .... musical direction
 
Other crew
Clarence Muse .... dance director (uncredited)
Clarence Muse .... technical advisor (uncredited)
 
Crew believed to be complete


Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
61 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Certification:
USA:Approved (PCA #5414)

Did You Know?

Soundtrack:
Nobody PraySee more »

FAQ

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful.
In the same year as Gone With The Wind, 7 March 2012
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

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.

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