Tap Roots (1948)

 |  Drama, War, Western  |  25 August 1948 (USA)
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In 1860s Mississippi, the Dabneys, founders of the Dabney plantation in Levington, experience tragedy and turmoil when they refuse to join either side of the American Civil War.



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Complete credited cast:
Aven Dabney
Whitfield Connor ...
Clay MacIvor
Hoab Dabney
Bruce Dabney
Arthur Shields ...
Reverend Kirkland
Griff Barnett ...
Dr. MacIntosh
Sondra Rodgers ...
Shellie Dabney
Ruby Dandridge ...
Russell Simpson ...
Big Sam Dabney


Morna Dabney is engaged to soldier Clay MacIvor in the days before the War Between the States. Morna's grandfather Big Sam Dabney founded their Mississippi plantation near Levington, which thrives in the Deep South, but he remains loyal to the Union, as does his son Hoab, Morna's father. As Mississippi secedes, Hoab plans to withdraw the area around his plantation and remain neutral, and he gains support from local newspaperman Keith Alexander. Keith falls in love with Morna, whose fiancé Clay has joined the Confederate Army. Clay plans to punish the would-be neutral citizens of Levington by raiding the area, but Morna, with the help of her grandfather's Choctaw friend Tishomingo, attempts to thwart the attack. Morna sacrifices greatly to protect her home and the man she really loves. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When she lost her lover...her sister gained one!


Drama | War | Western


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Release Date:

25 August 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Tal der Leidenschaften  »

Box Office


$2,118,688 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Film loosely based on the true life story of Newton Knight, a farmer who tried to secede Jones County from Mississippi. See more »


Set in 1860, dynamite (invented in the mid 1860s) is used in the film. See more »

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User Reviews

Susan Hayward and Boris Karloff
18 December 2013 | by (Youngstown,Ohio) – See all my reviews

1948's "Tap Roots" has been described as a poor man's "Gone with the Wind," and that pretty much sums up the simplistic plot, with Van Heflin and Susan Hayward supplying the love interest. As Hoab Dabney, patriarch of the Lebanon Valley in Mississippi, Ward Bond enjoys one of his most prominent movie roles, ably assisted by the scene stealing Boris Karloff, surprisingly cast as Choctaw Indian medicine man Tishomingo, equally adept at healing as he is wielding a mean whip. The slave-owning Dabneys decide to stay neutral as the Civil War gets underway, rousing the townsmen to defy the Confederates, regardless of the consequences (Jonathan Hale has one scene as General Joseph Johnston). By this time, Karloff made infrequent returns to the studio that made him a star (ending with 1953's "Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"), and his casting was most definitely inspired by his recent portrayal of Guyasuta, Chief of the Senecas, in Cecil B. De Mille's "Unconquered" (1946). The darkly-complected actor had played a multitude of Native Americans, mostly villainous, during the silent era, but had only these two roles since the advent of talkies (his only sound Western was 1930's "The Utah Kid").

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