The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944)

130 mins | Biography | 6 May 1944

Director:

Irving Rapper

Producer:

Jesse L. Lasky

Cinematographer:

Sol Polito

Editor:

Ralph Dawson

Production Designer:

John Hughes

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

Samuel Clemens was born on 30 Nov 1835. As in the film, he was born and died during appearances of Halley's Comet. After the death of his father, Clemens was apprenticed to his brother, who ran the Missouri Courier . In 1857, Clemens became an apprentice boat pilot on the Mississippi and remained there until the Civil War. Clemens became a writer after traveling to Nevada in 1861 to work for his brother, a secretary to the territorial governor. He later spent a brief period as an unsuccessful prospector. While working for a San Francisco newspaper, he wrote The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County , first published in a New York newspaper, which made him nationally famous. He spent some years traveling abroad, wrote Innocents Abroad based on his travels, and through the book met Olivia Langdon. They were married in 1870. The Clemenses lived in Hartford, CN until 1891. Clemens lost money backing an impractical typesetting machine and investing in a publishing house. He paid his debts by means of a worldwide lecture tour, during which his daughter Susie died. He received many honors and died on 21 Apr 1910.
       Onscreen credits include the following statement: "All biographical material based on works owned or controlled by the Mark Twain Company and the play 'Mark Twain' by Harold M. Sherman." Production information on the play has not been found. The film was completed two years before its release. According to a 21 Apr 1944 article in Tidings , it was held back because Warner Bros. gave precedence to more ... More Less

Samuel Clemens was born on 30 Nov 1835. As in the film, he was born and died during appearances of Halley's Comet. After the death of his father, Clemens was apprenticed to his brother, who ran the Missouri Courier . In 1857, Clemens became an apprentice boat pilot on the Mississippi and remained there until the Civil War. Clemens became a writer after traveling to Nevada in 1861 to work for his brother, a secretary to the territorial governor. He later spent a brief period as an unsuccessful prospector. While working for a San Francisco newspaper, he wrote The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County , first published in a New York newspaper, which made him nationally famous. He spent some years traveling abroad, wrote Innocents Abroad based on his travels, and through the book met Olivia Langdon. They were married in 1870. The Clemenses lived in Hartford, CN until 1891. Clemens lost money backing an impractical typesetting machine and investing in a publishing house. He paid his debts by means of a worldwide lecture tour, during which his daughter Susie died. He received many honors and died on 21 Apr 1910.
       Onscreen credits include the following statement: "All biographical material based on works owned or controlled by the Mark Twain Company and the play 'Mark Twain' by Harold M. Sherman." Production information on the play has not been found. The film was completed two years before its release. According to a 21 Apr 1944 article in Tidings , it was held back because Warner Bros. gave precedence to more topical, war-related films. HR news items add the following information about the production: Olivia De Havilland was first announced in the role of "Livy." After De Havilland was suspended for turning down a role in Warner Bros.' The Princess O'Rourke ," she was replaced in this picture by Alexis Smith. Some scenes were shot on location in Sacramento, CA. The film received several Academy Award nominations: John Hughes was nominated for Best Art Direction; Fred MacLean for Best Interior Decoration; Max Steiner for Best Score; Paul Detlefsen and John Crouse Best Photographic Special Effects; and Nathan Levinson for Best Sound Effects. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
6 May 1944.
---
Daily Variety
3 May 44
p. 3, 6
Film Daily
3 May 44
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 42
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 44
p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
6 May 44
p. 1877.
New York Times
4 May 44
p. 25.
Tidings
21 Apr 1944.
---
Variety
3 May 44
p. 23.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Eddie Waller
Arthur Aylsworth
Oliver Prickett
Carol Joyce Coombs
Bill Lechner
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Orch arr
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff dir
Spec eff
Mont
Spec eff photog
Spec eff photog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv on character des
Tech adv on Mississippi River seq
Tech adv on frog jumping seq
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 May 1944
Production Date:
7 July--mid September 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
13 May 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12643
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
130
Length(in feet):
11,706
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On 30 Nov 1835, the night that Halley's Comet is visible over the Mississippi River town of Hannibal, Missouri, Samuel Clemens is born. As a boy, Sam plays on Jackson Island with his friends, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and their black slave boy, Jim. Sam loves the river and the steamboats that travel on it so much that despite the wishes of his widowed mother, he runs away from his job as a printer's apprentice and hires on a riverboat. After several years of practice, Sam becomes a good river pilot. One night, Sam stops a pickpocket from robbing Charles Langdon, and the two young men become friends. Sam is particularly struck by the portrait of Charles' pretty sister Olivia and announces that he intends to marry her. To that end, Sam quits the river and accompanies his friend, Steve Gillis, West, where they plan to make their fortunes in the silver rush. The two men have no luck at their claim, however, so when a local newspaper reporter is shot, Sam takes over his position. One day, Bret Harte challenges all comers to a jumping frog contest at Angel's Camp. Steve is determined to win and convinces Sam to bet all their money on the contest. After Bret's frog loses because Steve had earlier filled it full of buckshot, Sam confesses that he bet all their money on Bret's frog, and the two men hurriedly call for a rematch. Later, Sam writes up the story, using "Mark Twain," the boatman's cry for safe water, as his pseudonym. When the Civil War starts, Sam enlists on the ... +


On 30 Nov 1835, the night that Halley's Comet is visible over the Mississippi River town of Hannibal, Missouri, Samuel Clemens is born. As a boy, Sam plays on Jackson Island with his friends, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and their black slave boy, Jim. Sam loves the river and the steamboats that travel on it so much that despite the wishes of his widowed mother, he runs away from his job as a printer's apprentice and hires on a riverboat. After several years of practice, Sam becomes a good river pilot. One night, Sam stops a pickpocket from robbing Charles Langdon, and the two young men become friends. Sam is particularly struck by the portrait of Charles' pretty sister Olivia and announces that he intends to marry her. To that end, Sam quits the river and accompanies his friend, Steve Gillis, West, where they plan to make their fortunes in the silver rush. The two men have no luck at their claim, however, so when a local newspaper reporter is shot, Sam takes over his position. One day, Bret Harte challenges all comers to a jumping frog contest at Angel's Camp. Steve is determined to win and convinces Sam to bet all their money on the contest. After Bret's frog loses because Steve had earlier filled it full of buckshot, Sam confesses that he bet all their money on Bret's frog, and the two men hurriedly call for a rematch. Later, Sam writes up the story, using "Mark Twain," the boatman's cry for safe water, as his pseudonym. When the Civil War starts, Sam enlists on the side of the South. In the meantime, his story is published in a newspaper, and the publisher, Oxford Chancellor, offers the writer a lecture engagement. In the audience are Charles and his sister Livy. After Sam's successful lecture, many famous and influential people come backstage to meet him, but he has eyes only for Livy. Charles and Livy invite Sam home, but their stern New England father Jervis does not like the rough young man, and orders him to leave. Sam pretends to be injured so that he can stay near Livy, and soon the two are engaged to be married. Rather than fight against his daughter's marriage, Jervis buys her a nearby home as a wedding present. Quickly, Sam writes several successful humorous books, but when his young son dies, Sam is so heartbroken that he stops writing. Livy convinces him to write the story of his beloved Mississippi as he would have wanted to tell it to their son, and Sam writes The Adventures of Tom Sawyer . After Sam insults the New England writers at a dinner in honor of John Greenleaf Whittier, he writes Huckleberry Finn to redeem himself in Livy's eyes. Sam now wants to write a serious book, but various moneymaking schemes exhaust his finances, and he must continue to write his successful humorous works. Finally, after the publishing company that Sam owns publishes the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, and Sam gives all the profits to Grant's widow, the Clemenses face bankruptcy. To raise money, Sam leaves his three daughters and ailing wife, and goes on a world-wide lecture tour. Sam finally pays off his debts and rejoins Livy in Florence, Italy. They then learn that he is to be awarded an honorary degree by Oxford University. Livy makes Sam promise to go to Oxford even if she cannot accompany him, and after she dies, he keeps his promise. Sam, now cared for by his eldest daughter, accrues more honors. On his seventy-fifth birthday, Halley's Comet returns, and Sam dies, as he was born, accompanied by the comet. +

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.