1931's "Heaven on Earth" was adapted from Ben Lucien Burman's 1929 novel MISSISSIPPI, detailing the warring factions between steamship folks and shantytown residents, with Captain Lilly (Harry Beresford) of the Morning Glory and son States (Lew Ayres) parting ways when the latter learns that his real shanty dwelling father had been killed by Lilly, who then adopted the boy as his own. In defying the captain and returning to his own people, superstitious kin who believe in spirits and voodoo, States is quite happy boarding with Aunt Vergie (Elizabeth Patterson) and her teenage daughter Towhead (Anita Louise), the latter instantly smitten with the handsome newcomer. Captain Lilly proves unable to entice States to return to the Morning Glory, and recovers his dog Shoo-Fly in the mistaken belief that he was stolen by States (the culprit was actually Towhead). Lilly spitefully destroys States' own newly built shanty, injuring the visiting girl, resulting in a marriage proposal that further divides father and son, but the stormy waterlogged climax provides for a happy ending. A very hard to find pre-code feature produced by Carl Laemmle Jr. (currently in extremely poor condition), with a meagre cameo from Slim Summerville as a sympathetic jeweler, and a major part for 8th billed John Carradine, here credited for the only time on screen under his first professional moniker 'Peter Richmond' (his birth name being 'Richmond Reed Carradine,' though his mother always called him 'Peter'). In just his third film role, he can be spotted early on as shantytown resident Chicken Sam, so named for his penchant for stealing chickens, who takes a potshot at the dog, only to be hit by return fire from States, who proceeds to patch up his wounded arm. This offers Sam the opportunity to divulge States' true heritage, that he himself is actually a shantytown person, the captain his real father's killer, suggesting court records to prove that what he says is the truth. We only see Carradine once more, just after the one hour mark, leading a posse to free the imprisoned States after Captain Lilly has him arrested for daring to propose to the pretty Towhead. With this being Carradine's Universal debut in late spring of 1931, it proves that he was present during the Robert Florey preproduction phase of "Frankenstein," and supports his story of refusing without regret to be tested for The Monster (Bela Lugosi having balked at playing the mute role). He did a total of seven Laemmle-era Universals before making a triumphant return as a star in 1943's "Captive Wild Woman" (following "Heaven on Earth" with "The Invisible Man," "The Black Cat," "Transient Lady," "Bride of Frankenstein," "Alias Mary Dow," and "She Gets Her Man").
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