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HISTORY

Paramount Pictures previously released other silent films based on Mark Twain’s novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884): Tom Sawyer (1917, see entry); Huck and Tom; or, the Further Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1918, see entry); and Huckleberry Finn (1920, see entry). This sound remake of Tom Sawyer was followed by a remake of Huckleberry Finn (1931, see entry), in which many of the cast members reprised their roles including Jackie Coogan, Junior Durkin, and Mitzi Green.
       This film marked the first “talking picture” for Jackie Coogan, the sixteen-year-old Hollywood veteran whose last release was the 1927 silent, Buttons (see entry). Several news items, including the 19 Jul 1930 Hollywood Filmograph, referred to Tom Sawyer as Coogan’s “comeback.” Production was delayed by six months to allow the young actor to finish his sophomore year of high school, according to a Nov 1930 Motion Picture Classic article, which listed Coogan’s weekly salary as $7,500. Rehearsals were underway as of late Jul 1930, according to the 31 Jul 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today, and filming commenced by Aug 1930. That month’s issue of International Photographer indicated that production took place on the Paramount studio lot in Hollywood, CA. An article in the Dec 1930 New Movie Magazine suggested that location filming also occurred in or around Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park in Sacramento, CA.
       On 30 Sep 1930, Film Daily announced that editing was underway. The ...

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Paramount Pictures previously released other silent films based on Mark Twain’s novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884): Tom Sawyer (1917, see entry); Huck and Tom; or, the Further Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1918, see entry); and Huckleberry Finn (1920, see entry). This sound remake of Tom Sawyer was followed by a remake of Huckleberry Finn (1931, see entry), in which many of the cast members reprised their roles including Jackie Coogan, Junior Durkin, and Mitzi Green.
       This film marked the first “talking picture” for Jackie Coogan, the sixteen-year-old Hollywood veteran whose last release was the 1927 silent, Buttons (see entry). Several news items, including the 19 Jul 1930 Hollywood Filmograph, referred to Tom Sawyer as Coogan’s “comeback.” Production was delayed by six months to allow the young actor to finish his sophomore year of high school, according to a Nov 1930 Motion Picture Classic article, which listed Coogan’s weekly salary as $7,500. Rehearsals were underway as of late Jul 1930, according to the 31 Jul 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today, and filming commenced by Aug 1930. That month’s issue of International Photographer indicated that production took place on the Paramount studio lot in Hollywood, CA. An article in the Dec 1930 New Movie Magazine suggested that location filming also occurred in or around Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park in Sacramento, CA.
       On 30 Sep 1930, Film Daily announced that editing was underway. The 17 Oct 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today later stated that “photographing and other work” were nearing completion. A scheduled release date of 15 Nov 1930 was listed in the 28 Sep 1930 Film Daily, which identified Tom Sawyer as the first feature-length release in Paramount’s “campaign to get the kids back in the theater.” A review of the film in the 6 Dec 1930 Harrison’s Reports reiterated that point, noting that children had been “driven away [from movie theaters] more or less since the adoption of sound.” Theatrical release was set to be supported by a promotional tie-in with the clothing company, Tom Sawyer Wash Wear for Real Boys, as stated in a 20 Oct 1930 Film Daily item that likened the deal to Paramount’s previous tie-in with Peter Pan Kid Klothes for its 1924 release of Peter Pan (see entry).
       Prior to the general release date of 15 Nov 1930, early openings were scheduled to take place on 10 Nov 1930 in Charlotte, NC, and 12 Nov 1930 in Fort Worth, TX, according to contemporary advertisements in the Charlotte News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. When it opened wide, the picture enjoyed critical and commercial success. The 23 Nov 1930 Film Daily review claimed the film “holds like a spell from beginning to end,” and soon after, the 2 Dec 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today reported that it was breaking box-office records throughout the U.S. Months into the release, the Apr 1931 Silver Screen credited Coogan with making “such a hit” that Paramount rewarded him with a multiple-picture deal.
       Co-screenwriter Sam Mintz was credited as the dialogue writer in a 24 Aug 1930 Film Daily item. Guy Oliver was named as a cast member in the7 Aug 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today; he was later listed (in the role of “Mr. Deming”) among the cast in a 27 Dec 1930 Motion Picture Daily review of the film.
       A length of ten reels was cited in the Nov 1930 National Board of Review Magazine, although the film was copyrighted at a length of 7,648 feet. For information on other filmed versions of Mark Twain's novel, please see the entry for the 1938 David O. Selznick production of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, directed by Norman Taurog and starring Tommy Kelly and Jackie Moran.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Charlotte News [Charlotte, NC]
9 Nov 1930
p. 26
Educational Screen
Dec 1930
p. 305
EHW
18 Oct 1930
p. 45
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
31 Jul 1930
p. 9
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
4 Aug 1930
p. 2
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
7 Aug 1930
p. 6
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
17 Oct 1930
p. 5
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
2 Dec 1930
p. 3
Film Daily
24 Aug 1930
p. 4
Film Daily
7 Sep 1930
p. 4
Film Daily
28 Sep 1930
p. 2
Film Daily
30 Sep 1930
p. 7
Film Daily
9 Oct 1930
p. 12
Film Daily
20 Oct 1930
---
Film Daily
23 Nov 1930
p. 10
Film Daily
3 Dec 1930
p. 7
Fort Worth Star-Telegram [Fort Worth, TX]
9 Nov 1930
p. 11
Harrison's Reports
8 Nov 1930
p. 181
Harrison's Reports
6 Dec 1930
p. 194
Hollywood Filmograph
12 Apr 1930
p. 25
Hollywood Filmograph
31 May 1930
p. 11
Hollywood Filmograph
19 Jul 1930
p. 19
Inside Facts of State and Screen
29 Nov 1930
p. 4
International Photographer
Aug 1930
---
Life
9 Jan 1931
p. 22
Los Angeles Times
25 Nov 1930
Section A, p. 12
Los Angeles Times
27 Nov 1930
p. 14
Motion Picture
Nov 1930
p. 51
Motion Picture Classic
Nov 1930
p. 41
Motion Picture Daily
27 Dec 1930
p. 8
Motion Picture News
26 Apr 1930
p. 33
National Board of Review Magazine
Nov 1930
p. 18
New Movie Magazine
Dec 1930
pp. 44-45, 129
New York Times
20 Dec 1930
p. 20
New Yorker
27 Dec 1930
p. 24
Screenland
Mar 1931
p. 87
Silver Screen
Apr 1931
p. 52
Time
29 Dec 1930
p. 17
Variety
24 Dec 1930
p. 20
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PHOTOGRAPHY
Charles Lang
Dir of photog
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SOUND
Harold C. Lewis
Rec eng
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (San Francisco, 1876).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 November 1930
Premiere Information:
Charlotte, NC, opening: 10 Nov 1930; Fort Worth, TX, opening: 12 Nov 1930; Los Angeles opening: 27 Nov 1930; Chicago, IL, opening: 28 Nov 1930
Production Date:
Aug--Sep or Oct 1930
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Paramount Publix Corp.
17 November 1930
LP1736
Physical Properties:
Sound
Movietone
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
82
Length(in feet):
7,648
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Tom Sawyer has a falling-out with Becky Thatcher, his sweetheart, and seeks comfort in the forbidden company of Huck Finn, the town ragamuffin. Huck tells him of a mysterious cure for warts that requires them to visit the town graveyard at midnight. There they see Injun Joe, a treacherous half-breed, murder one of his companions. Muff Potter, also there, but in a drunken state, is made to believe he committed the crime. Tom and Huck swear a blood oath that they will not divulge what they have seen. Wrongfully rebuked by his Aunt Polly, Tom runs away from home, joining Huck and Joe Harper on an expedition to an island on the Mississippi, where they live for three days in carefree abandon. Getting homesick, Tom returns to find he is thought drowned, and the boys attend their own obsequies at the church. Tom confesses the truth about the murder at Muff Potter's trial, but Injun Joe eludes a posse. At the school picnic near a cavern, Tom and Becky get lost in the cave and stumble on Injun Joe unearthing a chest of gold; he pursues them, but falls into a crevasse to his death. Huck finds Tom and Becky and leads them to safety, retrieving the chest of ...

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Tom Sawyer has a falling-out with Becky Thatcher, his sweetheart, and seeks comfort in the forbidden company of Huck Finn, the town ragamuffin. Huck tells him of a mysterious cure for warts that requires them to visit the town graveyard at midnight. There they see Injun Joe, a treacherous half-breed, murder one of his companions. Muff Potter, also there, but in a drunken state, is made to believe he committed the crime. Tom and Huck swear a blood oath that they will not divulge what they have seen. Wrongfully rebuked by his Aunt Polly, Tom runs away from home, joining Huck and Joe Harper on an expedition to an island on the Mississippi, where they live for three days in carefree abandon. Getting homesick, Tom returns to find he is thought drowned, and the boys attend their own obsequies at the church. Tom confesses the truth about the murder at Muff Potter's trial, but Injun Joe eludes a posse. At the school picnic near a cavern, Tom and Becky get lost in the cave and stumble on Injun Joe unearthing a chest of gold; he pursues them, but falls into a crevasse to his death. Huck finds Tom and Becky and leads them to safety, retrieving the chest of gold.

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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.