Chronicle of the importance of cotton to the economy and culture of the American South.



(original screenplay)

On Disc

at Amazon


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Famous Spanish bandit Artiguez returns to his native Spanish village after 20 years in French exile but Spanish cop Vinolas is setting a trap for him.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Robert Shaw
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A professional assassin codenamed "Jackal" plots to kill Charles de Gaulle, the President of France.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Edward Fox, Terence Alexander, Michel Auclair
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After leaving a wealthy Belgian family to become a nun, Sister Luke struggles with her devotion to her vows during crisis, disappointment, and World War II.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Audrey Hepburn, Peter Finch, Edith Evans
Crime | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

An episode in the "Crime Does Not Pay" series. Dave Miller, an aircraft plant worker, is actually selling secret bomber plans to foreign agents. United States Intelligence Department agents... See full summary »

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Dick Purcell, Lenita Lane, Egon Brecher
The Search (1948)
Certificate: Passed Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In the Post-War Berlin, an American private helps a lost Czech boy to find his mother.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Montgomery Clift, Ivan Jandl, Aline MacMahon
High Noon (1952)
Thriller | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A marshall, personally compelled to face a returning deadly enemy, finds that his own town refuses to help him.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell


Uncredited cast:
Eli Whitney (uncredited)
Frank Whitbeck ...
Narrator (voice) (uncredited)


Cotton is one of the most important crops grown worldwide. What was once the land rich but dollar poor southern US and cotton are synonymous with each other, the crop itself originally imported from India. Despite the ease of growing cotton and the world demand for it, the labor intensive activity of separating the seed from the lint made it an expensive proposition until the creation of the cotton gin by inventor Eli Whitney in the late eighteenth century. Whitney was an unassuming schoolmaster when he created his deceptively simple but time and labor saving device, which revolutionized the cotton industry and led to great increases in the planting of cotton crops and production in the southern US. This increase had the unforeseen consequence of insufficient laborers to pick the cotton, which in turn led to an increase in the slave trade from West Africa, and the growing economic disparity between the rich cotton plantation owners and the poor slaves. The moral question of slavery ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

20 January 1940 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Included on a special edition home video of Gone with the Wind (1939). See more »


Narrator: Gone. Gone with the wind.
See more »


References Gone with the Wind (1939) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

"Cotton IS the south"
31 March 2009 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

This short documentary (or "miniature" as MGM liked to call them), designed as an accompanying bit of background info during the rush of Gone with the Wind fever, is one of the few Fred Zinnemann shorts that can be seen on DVD.

It often comes up in discussions about Zinnemann that his background in this area gave his full-length pictures a "documentary feel", although this isn't really the case. In the first place, other than the occasional realist touch here and there, I wouldn't say he had what you could call a pronounced documentary approach. Secondly, looking at The Old South (and other MGM miniatures which turn up as DVD extras) you can see these shorts largely consisted of staged scenes. Much of the "real event" shots appear to be stock footage, and for the final montage they even stole the opening shot from 1929's Hallelujah, directed by King Vidor! Still, one or two things make this stand out as the work of Zinnemann. In particular there is the way he shoots outdoor scenes – pretty and tranquil images with lots of overhanging tree branches. Much later he would use shots like this to help bring out the poignancy of an important scene; here he is probably just doing it for aesthetics. He has consistently attempted to fill the frame with life and character, sometimes getting the better of himself. For example in the scene where two landowners discuss the slave trade, the arrangement of the shot draws our attention more to the activity in the background and away from the speakers, rather than balancing them effectively.

The Old South is available as part of the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink four disc edition of Gone with the Wind. Although it looks pretty and may be of vague interest to Zinnemann buffs, to be honest you can probably do something better with your eleven minutes.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss The Old South (1940) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: