23 user 7 critic

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938)

Tom Sawyer and his pal Huckleberry Finn have great adventures on the Mississippi River, pretending to be pirates, attending their own funeral and witnessing a murder.


Norman Taurog


Mark Twain (the beloved classic by), John V.A. Weaver (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Tommy Kelly ... Tom Sawyer
May Robson ... Aunt Polly
Walter Brennan ... Muff Potter
Victor Jory ... Injun Joe
David Holt ... Sid Sawyer
Jackie Moran ... Huckleberry Finn
Nana Bryant ... Mrs. Thatcher
Olin Howland ... Mr. Dobbins - Schoolmaster
Donald Meek ... Sunday School Superintendent
Charles Richman ... Judge Thatcher
Victor Kilian ... Sheriff
Marcia Mae Jones ... Mary Sawyer
Mickey Rentschler ... Joe Harper
Cora Sue Collins ... Amy Lawrence
Philip Hurlic ... Little Jim


Sentiment rules in this version of the Twain tale of boyhood in 1850 Missouri, reasonably faithful except for minor details and making the character Jim a boy instead of a man. Includes the whitewash episode, puppy love, the graveyard murder, the boys' running away to Jackson's Island, the salvation of Muff Potter, and the cave adventure. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"Tom, you might even be President someday...if they don't hang you first!" See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Walter Brennan (Muff Potter) and Victor Jory (Injun Joe) met while filming this movie and became lifelong friends. See more »


When Tom is wooing Becky by the river, the frog makes his hat jerk up and down. In the next shot, the string attached to the hat is clearly visible (at 25:40 in 91 minutes). See more »


[first lines]
Aunt Polly: Tom! You, Tom!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits read "A Picturization in Technicolor of the Beloved Classic by Mark Twain 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer'". See more »

Alternate Versions

Cut to 77 minutes for a 1959 reissue. The reissue print was the only version available for television for many years. See more »


Version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960) See more »


If I Ever See
Composer unknown
Poem by Lydia Maria Child
Sung a cappella by children on the hayride
Reprised a cappella by Ann Gillis in the cave
See more »

User Reviews

Selznick Technicolor dress rehearsal to Gone With the Wind
22 March 2006 | by johno-21See all my reviews

This film is in reality David O. Selznick's 1938 dress rehearsal for 1939's Gone With the Wind. Full length feature films in Technicolor weren't made until 1935 and there hadn't been many made by 1938. some studios didn't start using Technicolor until after 1940. Producer Selznick produced this big production film in Technicolor a year before he would masterfully capture the world's attention with it in Gone With the Wind. Production Designer William Cameron Menzies worked on both this film and GWTW for Selznick as did Art Director Lyle Wheeler, Special Effects Director Jack Cosgrove, Composer Max Steiner and Costume Designer Walter Plunkett. Wheeler was nominated for art direction for the 1938 Academy award for the Adentures of Tom Sawyer. He would received an astounding 26 nominations in his career including five wins including GWTW. Menzies got an Oscar and Cosgrove and Steiner were nominated for GWTW. Cinematographer James Wong Howe didn't join the others on GWTW but he had a cinematography career that spanned photographing Pola Negri movies in 1923 to Barbara Streisand in 1975 in Funny Lady a year before he died. Tom sawyer was directed by Norman Taurog who had a long directorial career from 1920 to almost 1970 and ended his career by directing nine of Elvis Presley's movies. Child actors Tommy Kelly as Tom Sawyer, Jackie Moran as Huckleberry Finn and Ann Gillis as Becky Thatcher. Veteran actors Walter Brennan is Muff Potter, Victory Jory is Injun Joe, Victor Kilian is the Sheriff, May Robson is Aunt Polly and Margaret Hamilton is Mrs. Harper. This film was trimmed from it's 93 minute run-time to 77 minutes when it was reissued in 1959 and that was the version that was shown on television that I saw when I was growing up. I've seen this a few times but haven't seen it in many years. It's one of the more faithful filmed adaptations of the many popular Mark Twain stories. I would give this an 8.5 of 10 but I would like to see the full version and see it on the big screen.

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Release Date:

11 February 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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