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Stand Up and Fight (1939)

It starts in 1844 in Maryland, where R.Taylor, owner a plantation with slaves, is forced by debts to sell his estate ad his people. Then he leaves for Cumberland, looking for a job (first ... See full summary »


W.S. Van Dyke (as W.S. Van Dyke II)


James M. Cain (screen play), Jane Murfin (screen play) | 2 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Wallace Beery ... Captain Boss Starkey
Robert Taylor ... Blake Cantrell
Florence Rice ... Susan Griffith
Helen Broderick ... Amanda Griffith
Charles Bickford ... Arnold
Barton MacLane ... Crowder
Charley Grapewin ... 'Old Puff'
John Qualen ... Davy
Robert Gleckler ... Sheriff Barney
Clinton Rosemond Clinton Rosemond ... Enoch
Cy Kendall ... Foreman Ross
Paul Everton ... Allan
Claudia Morgan ... Carolyn Talbot
Selmer Jackson ... Whittingham P. Talbot (scenes deleted)
Robert Middlemass ... Harkrider


It starts in 1844 in Maryland, where R.Taylor, owner a plantation with slaves, is forced by debts to sell his estate ad his people. Then he leaves for Cumberland, looking for a job (first time in his life), and ends up working for a stagecoach line run Wallace Beery and owned by Florence Rice. Before love and friendship can triumph, Taylor will have to commit to the cause of african-americans in search of freedom... Written by Andrea Violi

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

6 January 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A vasöklű See more »

Filming Locations:

Butte Meadows, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Black and White (Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film's earliest documented telecast took place in Tucson Thursday 20 June 1957 on KVOA (Channel 4); it first aired in Philadelphia 3 July 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), in Los Angeles 7 July 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), in Altoona PA 31 July 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), in Chicago 1 August 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Binghamton NY 15 August 1957 on WNBF (Channel 12), in New York City 24 August 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2), in Seattle 11 November 1957 on KING (Channel 5), in both Portland OR and Honolulu 3 December 1957 on KGW (Channel 8) and on KHVH (Channel13), and in Amarillo 27 December 1957 on KFDA (Channel 19); it found its way to San Francisco 12 October 1958 on KGO (Channel 7). See more »


Charles Bickford's character is named Morgan throughout the movie, but he's called Arnold in the closing credits. See more »


Referenced in Electrical Power (1938) See more »


Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair
(1854) (uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
Played at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

Another Rugged Role for Bob Taylor
30 November 2005 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In casting Robert Taylor in Stand Up And Fight, MGM was trying to broaden his appeal. His first few films established him as a handsome, but callow youth. Camille was a typical part for him. In doing this film, A Yank at Oxford, and Killer McCoy, MGM was trying to create a more masculine image for its heart throb.

Taylor plays the impoverished heir of a plantation in Maryland who is forced to sell his assets which of course in that society included black slaves. He's forced to go to work for a living and he gets a job with the new Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

The B&O's main competition is a stage and freight line which does a side business in capturing runaway slaves and returning them to their masters. The guys doing this are Charles Bickford and Barton MacLane with a wink and nod from manager Wallace Beery.

It's quite a culture shock for Taylor. He's grown up believing that blacks might be human, but of an inferior brand. The business that Bickford and MacLane are in disgusts him.

Taylor and Beery got good notices for this film. Starting out as antagonists both in business and generationally, they gain a grudging respect for the other.

The depiction of blacks as menials is the reason Stand Up And Fight is not broadcast too often. You run into a peculiar conundrum in dealing with movies about slavery. Because of the position they're in blacks have to act as subservient simply to survive and that in itself becomes offensive.

Roots changed all of that, but by that time Robert Taylor and Wallace Beery were gone as was director Woody Van Dyke. Stand Up And Fight surely isn't Roots by any means, but considering the era it was probably groundbreaking for its day, as was Paramount's Souls at Sea a few years earlier. Not many films dealt with slavery at all.

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