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Way Back Home (1931)

Passed | | Drama | 13 November 1931 (USA)
Seth Parker takes in Robbie Turner and protects him from his cruel father Rube. When the father disappears, Seth intends to raise Robbie as his own son. The vindictive father attacks Mary ... See full summary »


William A. Seiter (as William Seiter)


Jane Murfin (story), Jane Murfin (screenplay)


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Complete credited cast:
Phillips Lord Phillips Lord ... Seth Parker (as Phillips H. Lord)
Effie Palmer Effie Palmer ... Mother Parker (as Effie L. Palmer)
Frank Albertson ... David Clark
Bette Davis ... Mary Lucy
Frankie Darro ... Robbie
Dorothy Peterson ... Rose Clark
Stanley Fields ... Rufe Turner
Oscar Apfel ... Wobbling Duffy
Sophia M. Lord Sophia M. Lord ... Lizzie
Bennett Kilpack Bennett Kilpack ... Cephus
Raymond Hunter Raymond Hunter ... Captain Bang


Seth Parker takes in Robbie Turner and protects him from his cruel father Rube. When the father disappears, Seth intends to raise Robbie as his own son. The vindictive father attacks Mary Lucy, a neighbor's daughter who is also trying to help Robbie. Mary's boyfriend David rescues her and Rube runs off with his son. But not for long. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

13 November 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Other People's Business See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


That's still how we do painting of buoys and traps here in Jonesport --- if the brush still works, we just keep on using it until it literally falls apart or becomes totally board-stiff. I once respectfully asked an "old salt" about this, and he explained to me that the heavy sticky salt-water-resistant paint they use hardens and deteriorates paintbrushes almost right away, so they would lose money if they kept buying new ones all the time. See more »


Lizzie: [arriving at the barn dance in a flustery huff after a bone-jarring ride over bumpy roads with Cephus in his tin lizzie] You folks is awful lucky that you still travel by horse-and-buggy! I hain't NEVER had such a ride in my life! Stone walls don't mean a THING to Cephus - - you ride with HIM and you go four miles forward and TEN miles UP AND DOWN!
See more »


Auld Lang Syne
(1788) (uncredited)
Traditional Scottish 17th century music
Lyrics by Robert Burns
Sung a cappella by Phillips Lord and others
See more »

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User Reviews

Makes A Good Case for a Return to "Silent" Films
5 May 2006 | by aimless-46See all my reviews

Rebecca: This is so bad it's almost good.

Enid: This is so bad it's gone past good and back to bad again.

If 1932's "Way Back Home" had been made a couple years earlier, it might have caused Hollywood to abandon "talkies" and return to making silent films. Fortunately, by 1932 enough talking pictures had already been made for everyone to realize that sound was not necessarily a device of audience torture. This is a borderline musical, with some of the worst singing you will hear this side of my shower. By the last number you will be envious of those with a serious hearing loss.

Most of the viewers who stumble across this film are Bette Davis fans seeking out some of her early performances. Davis has a supporting role as the female half of the film's romantic interest. She is paired with Frank Albertson who plays a farm laborer whose mother is an outcast and whose father is a bachelor. She looks beautiful and fresh but nothing about portraying the character is challenging. It is arguably the worst early film in which she appeared.

It is based on an early radio character named Seth Parker, played by Phillips Lord in the film, whose family are simple country folks. Sort of Ma and Pa Kettle without any comedy. The principle subject of the film is Seth's unofficially adopted son Robbie, after ten years Robbie's biological father Rufus Turner is back to claim him.

The theme is that a community can rise above its prejudices regarding illegitimacy and genetic parentage if it has a good example to follow. Because everyone is a caricature and the acting is so uneven this worthwhile theme is turned into a sappy and silly embarrassment.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

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