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HISTORY

The 8 Sep 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review announced that Richard Barthelmess would star in the “talkie,” Weary River, a forthcoming First National Pictures, Inc. production. The 26 Sep 1928 Var stated that Frank Lloyd was hired to direct the picture.
       The 14 Nov 1928 Var added Aggie Herring to the cast.
       Principal photography began on 5 Nov 1928 at First National Studios in Burbank, CA, according to a 17 Nov 1928 Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World production chart.
       On 24 Nov 1928, Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World reported that Weary River would be one of the first pictures to utilize new sound stages on the lot. Four days later, however, Var indicated that the stages would not be completed until sometime after 1 Jan 1929, and that the company would record their sound at Warner Bros. Studios in Hollywood, CA.
       According to the 5 Dec 1928 Var, the completed prints had been turned over to Warner’s Vitaphone studios where sound effects and dialogue would be added. The 28 Dec 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review announced that a deal had been struck to release the pictures made by the joint venture as “First National-Vitaphone Productions.”
       On 12 Dec 1928, Exhibitors Daily Review noted that Richard Barthelmess had returned to work, following a recent bought of influenza.
       Principal photography was completed in late Dec 1929, as reported in the 5 Jan 1929 Exhibitors Herald-World. The 4 Jan 1929 Film Mercury stated that the titling of Weary River, which was partially silent, ... More Less

The 8 Sep 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review announced that Richard Barthelmess would star in the “talkie,” Weary River, a forthcoming First National Pictures, Inc. production. The 26 Sep 1928 Var stated that Frank Lloyd was hired to direct the picture.
       The 14 Nov 1928 Var added Aggie Herring to the cast.
       Principal photography began on 5 Nov 1928 at First National Studios in Burbank, CA, according to a 17 Nov 1928 Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World production chart.
       On 24 Nov 1928, Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World reported that Weary River would be one of the first pictures to utilize new sound stages on the lot. Four days later, however, Var indicated that the stages would not be completed until sometime after 1 Jan 1929, and that the company would record their sound at Warner Bros. Studios in Hollywood, CA.
       According to the 5 Dec 1928 Var, the completed prints had been turned over to Warner’s Vitaphone studios where sound effects and dialogue would be added. The 28 Dec 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review announced that a deal had been struck to release the pictures made by the joint venture as “First National-Vitaphone Productions.”
       On 12 Dec 1928, Exhibitors Daily Review noted that Richard Barthelmess had returned to work, following a recent bought of influenza.
       Principal photography was completed in late Dec 1929, as reported in the 5 Jan 1929 Exhibitors Herald-World. The 4 Jan 1929 Film Mercury stated that the titling of Weary River, which was partially silent, had been completed by Paul Perez.        Although multiple sources including Exhibitors Herald-World announced that Barthelmess would sing and play the piano in the film, and several reviews praised his singing voice, the 30 Jan 1929 Var reported that Frank Withers had doubled the actor’s voice, and another unnamed double had performed piano. According to the Jan 1930 Picture Play and the Jul 1930 Motion Picture Classic, Johnny Murray, not Withers, sang for Barthelmess, and the actor was reportedly “quite annoyed because he was misrepresented as doing his own singing.” The 2011 book Celluloid Symphonies: Texts and Contexts in Film Music History edited by Julie Hubbert confirmed that Murray performed the songs and Frank Churchill had doubled as the piano player.
       The premiere of Weary River, held on 24 Jan 1929 at the Central Theatre in New York City, was broadcast by three international radio “hook-ups”, according to the 17 Jan and 25 Jan 1929 FD, and the 26 Jan 1929 Exhibitors Herald-World.
       The wide release date for the Vitaphone sound version was set for 10 Feb 1929, with a silent version expected to be released on 7 Apr 1929, as stated in the 2 Feb 1929 Exhibitors Herald-World.
       The 2 Mar 1929 Motion Picture News reported a record-breaking run at the Central Theatre, with box-office receipts totaling $93,272 after four weeks and three days. The run had no end date planned at that time.
       The 27 Jan 1929 FD review praised the “fine work” of Barthelmess, but complained that the picture “lacks action and rambles too much.” However, the 30 Jan 1929 Var review deemed Weary River a “thoroughly fine” picture stating, “The story fits dialog and sound like the proverbial glove.”
       Frank Lloyd was nominated for an Academy Award in 1930 for three pictures that he directed in 1929: Weary River, Drag, and The Divine Lady, for which he received the “Best Directing” Oscar (see entries). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Daily Review
8 Sep 1928
p. 2.
Exhibitors Daily Review
12 Dec 1928
p. 4.
Exhibitors Daily Review
28 Dec 1928
p. 3.
Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World
17 Nov 1928
p. 48.
Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World
24 Nov 1928
p. 38.
Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World
8 Dec 1928
p. 50.
Exhibitors Herald-World
5 Jan 1929
p. 41.
Exhibitors Herald-World
26 Jan 1929
p. 19.
Exhibitors Herald-World
2 Feb 1929
p. 29.
Film Daily
17 Jan 1929
p. 2.
Film Daily
25 Jan 1929
p. 2.
Film Daily
27 Jan 1929
p. 4.
Motion Picture Classic
Jul 1930
p. 102.
Motion Picture News
2 Mar 1929
p. 618.
New York Times
25 Jan 1929
p. 20.
Picture Play
Jan 1930
p. 102.
The Film Mercury
4 Jan 1929
p. 15.
Variety
26 Sep 1928
p. 19.
Variety
14 Nov 1928
p. 29.
Variety
28 Nov 1928
p. 24.
Variety
5 Dec 1928
p. 11.
Variety
30 Jan 1929
p. 4, 14, 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Frank Lloyd Production
A First National Vitaphone Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Screen Version
Titles by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Special photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
COSTUMES
Costumes dir
MUSIC
Musical score & Vitaphone Symphony Orch cond by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Weary River" and "It's Up to You," words by Grant Clarke, music by Louis Silvers.
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 February 1929
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 24 January 1929
Production Date:
5 November--late December 1928
Copyright Claimant:
First National Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 March 1929
Copyright Number:
LP229
Physical Properties:
Sound
Mus, sd eff, and talking seqs, Produced & Reproduced by Western Electric System & Apparatus
Black and White
Length(in feet):
7,978
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Bootlegger Jerry Larrabee is framed by a rival gangster and is sent to prison, where he comes under the kindly influence of the warden. Jerry turns to music and forms a prison band, broadcasting over the radio. Radio listeners are deeply moved by his singing, and Jerry wins an early parole. He goes into vaudeville and quickly flops; he then moves from job to job, haunted by the past. Forced at last to return to his old gang, Jerry takes up with his former sweetheart, Alice. She gets in touch with the warden, who arrives on the scene in time to keep Jerry on the straight and narrow path. Jerry eventually becomes a radio star and marries ... +


Bootlegger Jerry Larrabee is framed by a rival gangster and is sent to prison, where he comes under the kindly influence of the warden. Jerry turns to music and forms a prison band, broadcasting over the radio. Radio listeners are deeply moved by his singing, and Jerry wins an early parole. He goes into vaudeville and quickly flops; he then moves from job to job, haunted by the past. Forced at last to return to his old gang, Jerry takes up with his former sweetheart, Alice. She gets in touch with the warden, who arrives on the scene in time to keep Jerry on the straight and narrow path. Jerry eventually becomes a radio star and marries Alice. +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
with songs


Subject

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.