IMDb > Way Down South (1939)

Way Down South (1939) More at IMDbPro »

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Way Down South -- Musical - life in the south complete with all the things you would expect in 1939.


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5.5/10   144 votes »
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Down 18% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Clarence Muse (original story and screenplay) and
Langston Hughes (original story and screenplay)
View company contact information for Way Down South on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
21 July 1939 (USA) See more »
In the pre-Civil War South, a plantation owner dies and leaves all his possessions, including his slaves... See more » | Add synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. See more »
User Reviews:
"Master Reid ain't never whipped nobody." See more (9 total) »


  (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:
61 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Victor System)
USA:Approved (PCA #5414)

Did You Know?

Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless ChildSee more »


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
"Master Reid ain't never whipped nobody.", 18 June 2015
Author: utgard14 from USA

An orphan in pre-Civil War Louisiana fights to save his late father's plantation (and his slave friends!) from a crooked lawyer's machinations. Oh boy will this one set some alarms off today. Probably the only reasons it isn't more hated is that (a) it is not as well-known as, say, Song of the South and (b) the script was written by two black men -- noted poet Langston Hughes and actor Clarence Muse, who also appears in this film as Uncle Caton. The star of the movie is Bobby Breen, a Canadian-born soprano with a brief acting career who is just about the corniest thing I've ever seen. The rest of the cast includes Alan Mowbray, Ralph Morgan, Matthew 'Stymie' Beard, Sally Blane, Edwin Maxwell, and the aforementioned Clarence Muse, who is probably the best part of the film.

It's not a bad movie if one can put aside one's political correctness. The short runtime helps. I'm not saying it's great or anything. Breen is an acquired taste and the depiction of slavery is...well, controversial is the kindest way of putting it. That being said, the slaves are positive sympathetic characters all and written with more respect than is usual for the period. That is likely thanks to Hughes and Muse. One also has to wonder if some hidden meaning was in the scene where Ralph Morgan's "friendly massa" character dies. Watch and you'll probably see what I mean. There's some singing, as you might expect from a movie starring a boy soprano. Frankly, I enjoyed the singing from the Hall Johnson Choir more than Breen. The historical qualities of the film alone should warrant viewing but it does have entertainment value, as well. I encourage everyone who is interested to give it a shot and judge for yourself instead of making up your mind before seeing it. The same goes for any old film that is considered controversial or offensive today.

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