Way Back Home (1931)

81 mins | Drama | 13 November 1931

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HISTORY

The working title for this film was Other People's Business . MPH reviewed the film under that title. The name "Seth Parker" appears above the movie's title. The character of "Seth Parker" was created by Phillips H. Lord, whose Maine sketches featuring "Seth and Mother Parker" and "Lizzie and Cephus Perkins," were first popularized on the radio. This is the first film in which Lord appeared as "Seth Parker." Lord also appeared in the 1935 Arcturus Pictures film Obeah! , in which his character was called "the adventurer." "Seth Parker" was the name of his yacht in that film (see above). Phillips Lord was married to Sophia Lord, who also played "Lizzie Perkins" on the radio, at the time of this production. In an RKO inter-office memorandum from the "Critic Department," the box office potential of this story was discussed at length. The unidentified script reader complained about the datedness of the plot, stating that "a story of this type should never take itself seriously, for the day when pictures like The Old Homestead [a 1915 Famous Players film based on a well-known New England vaudeville character] would grip the attention of a movie audience is lost forever." The reader mentioned the financial failure of a 1930 RKO Amos 'n' Andy movie, Check and Double Check , as proof that popular radio stars do not always make popular film stars. In addition, the reader pointed out that the majority of "Seth Parker's" fans were "those people who are interested in the singing of hymns, old folk songs, and a very simple brand of humor" ... More Less

The working title for this film was Other People's Business . MPH reviewed the film under that title. The name "Seth Parker" appears above the movie's title. The character of "Seth Parker" was created by Phillips H. Lord, whose Maine sketches featuring "Seth and Mother Parker" and "Lizzie and Cephus Perkins," were first popularized on the radio. This is the first film in which Lord appeared as "Seth Parker." Lord also appeared in the 1935 Arcturus Pictures film Obeah! , in which his character was called "the adventurer." "Seth Parker" was the name of his yacht in that film (see above). Phillips Lord was married to Sophia Lord, who also played "Lizzie Perkins" on the radio, at the time of this production. In an RKO inter-office memorandum from the "Critic Department," the box office potential of this story was discussed at length. The unidentified script reader complained about the datedness of the plot, stating that "a story of this type should never take itself seriously, for the day when pictures like The Old Homestead [a 1915 Famous Players film based on a well-known New England vaudeville character] would grip the attention of a movie audience is lost forever." The reader mentioned the financial failure of a 1930 RKO Amos 'n' Andy movie, Check and Double Check , as proof that popular radio stars do not always make popular film stars. In addition, the reader pointed out that the majority of "Seth Parker's" fans were "those people who are interested in the singing of hymns, old folk songs, and a very simple brand of humor" and that the "average young person, between the ages of fifteen and thirty, who form a very large percentage of the movie audiences, do not listen to the broadcast." Although a Jul 1931 HR news item announced Eric Linden as the lead in the picture, that actor did not appear in the film. According to an Aug FD news item, scenes for the production were to be shot in Santa Cruz, CA. The MPH reviewer complimented Carl Dreher, RKO sound department chief, for his contribution to this film. The exact nature of Dreher's work on this particular production is not known, however. RKO borrowed Frank Albertson from Fox and Bette Davis from Universal. According to modern sources, Davis was paid $300 per week for three weeks of shooting on the picture. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
6 Jul 31
p. 5.
Film Daily
3 Aug 31
p. 6.
Film Daily
17 Jan 32
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 31
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 31
p. 3.
International Photographer
1 Nov 31
p. 29.
Motion Picture Herald
3 Oct 31
p. 32.
New York Times
16 Jan 32
p. 13.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Other People's Business
Release Date:
13 November 1931
Production Date:
began early August 1931
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 November 1931
Copyright Number:
LP2599
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Photophone System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
81
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In the village of Jonesport, Maine, farmers Seth and Mother Parker care for their foster son Robbie, while farm hand David Clark, the son of "Runaway" Rose, secretly courts his employer's daughter, Mary Lucy Duffy. Because Rose had eloped with a stranger years before and had returned alone to Jonesport with a baby, the townspeople ostracize her, and Mary Lucy's father, Wobbling Duffy, forbids his daughter from seeing David. Although David, a graduate of agricultural school, is fired by Duffy for chatting with Mary Lucy, he nevertheless agrees to meet her at a barn dance that night. At the same time, Duffy's friend, drunken ruffian Rufe Turner, shows up in Jonesport looking for Robbie, the son he had abandoned as a baby. After Seth cleverly prevents Duffy from attacking Mary Lucy at the dance, the humiliated farmer threatens his daughter and forces her out of his home. Mary Lucy then moves in with the Parkers, and her blossoming romance with David becomes the main topic of conversation for the local gossips. Seth and Mother care for and counsel Mary Lucy and also protect Robbie from Turner, who greedily demands his son's return. During a taffy-pulling party at the Parkers', Seth advises Mary Lucy and David, who are about to elope to Bangor, to stay in Jonesport for a few more days, then gives them money for a proper wedding. Later that night, Turner, who had been chased off by Seth at gunpoint, sneaks into Robbie's room and kidnaps him. When Seth discovers Turner's deed, he takes off in his buggy and, with help from the family Bible, catches and knocks out Turner as ... +


In the village of Jonesport, Maine, farmers Seth and Mother Parker care for their foster son Robbie, while farm hand David Clark, the son of "Runaway" Rose, secretly courts his employer's daughter, Mary Lucy Duffy. Because Rose had eloped with a stranger years before and had returned alone to Jonesport with a baby, the townspeople ostracize her, and Mary Lucy's father, Wobbling Duffy, forbids his daughter from seeing David. Although David, a graduate of agricultural school, is fired by Duffy for chatting with Mary Lucy, he nevertheless agrees to meet her at a barn dance that night. At the same time, Duffy's friend, drunken ruffian Rufe Turner, shows up in Jonesport looking for Robbie, the son he had abandoned as a baby. After Seth cleverly prevents Duffy from attacking Mary Lucy at the dance, the humiliated farmer threatens his daughter and forces her out of his home. Mary Lucy then moves in with the Parkers, and her blossoming romance with David becomes the main topic of conversation for the local gossips. Seth and Mother care for and counsel Mary Lucy and also protect Robbie from Turner, who greedily demands his son's return. During a taffy-pulling party at the Parkers', Seth advises Mary Lucy and David, who are about to elope to Bangor, to stay in Jonesport for a few more days, then gives them money for a proper wedding. Later that night, Turner, who had been chased off by Seth at gunpoint, sneaks into Robbie's room and kidnaps him. When Seth discovers Turner's deed, he takes off in his buggy and, with help from the family Bible, catches and knocks out Turner as he is about to flee with Robbie on a train. Because Seth never had legally adopted Robbie, the boy is placed in a Bangor orphanage, pending a legal decision. While waiting for the court's verdict, Seth lectures the townspeople on the subject of tolerance and encourages them to accept Rose and her newly married son into their hearts. Moved by Seth's words, the townspeople embrace the newlyweds and Rose, just as Robbie returns from Bangor as Seth's legal heir. +

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.