Swanee River (1939)

84 mins | Drama, Biography | 30 December 1939

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HISTORY

       According to a news item in HR , David O. Selznick was interested in working on this film. Material contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library adds that Richard Sherman worked on a treatment, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. In story conferences, Darryl F. Zanuck suggested Nancy Kelly for the role of Jane and Al Shean for Kleber. Twentieth Century-Fox publicity materials at the AMPAS Library note that some sequences were shot along the Sacramento River. Studio publicity also adds that Don Ameche learned to dance the soft shoe and play the violin for his role in this film. A news item in HR adds that Andrea Leeds was borrowed from Sam Goldwyn to make this picture. In 1935, Mascot Pictures produced a film on Foster's life entitled Harmony Lane , which was directed by Joseph Santley and starred Douglass Montgomery (see entry). Louis Silvers was nominated for an Academy Award in the Music (Scoring) category.
       Offscreen cast and role listings are derived from a Call Bureau Cast Service cast list dated 3 Jan 1940. Esther Dale is credited as "Temperance Woman" on a revised 20th Century-Fox cast list dated 10 Nov 1939, but her name does not appear on the Call Bureau Cast Service ... More Less

       According to a news item in HR , David O. Selznick was interested in working on this film. Material contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library adds that Richard Sherman worked on a treatment, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. In story conferences, Darryl F. Zanuck suggested Nancy Kelly for the role of Jane and Al Shean for Kleber. Twentieth Century-Fox publicity materials at the AMPAS Library note that some sequences were shot along the Sacramento River. Studio publicity also adds that Don Ameche learned to dance the soft shoe and play the violin for his role in this film. A news item in HR adds that Andrea Leeds was borrowed from Sam Goldwyn to make this picture. In 1935, Mascot Pictures produced a film on Foster's life entitled Harmony Lane , which was directed by Joseph Santley and starred Douglass Montgomery (see entry). Louis Silvers was nominated for an Academy Award in the Music (Scoring) category.
       Offscreen cast and role listings are derived from a Call Bureau Cast Service cast list dated 3 Jan 1940. Esther Dale is credited as "Temperance Woman" on a revised 20th Century-Fox cast list dated 10 Nov 1939, but her name does not appear on the Call Bureau Cast Service list. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Dec 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
26 Dec 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 39
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 39
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Dec 39
p. 1.
Motion Picture Daily
27 Dec 39
p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald
23 Dec 39
p. 40.
New York Times
30 Dec 39
p. 9.
Variety
27 Dec 39
p. 12.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
The Hall Johnson Choir
Al Herman
Claire Du Brey
Tommy Seidel
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Darryl F. Zanuck in charge of prod
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
DANCE
Dances staged by
Dances staged by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor dir
SOURCES
SONGS
"My Old Kentucky Home," "Ring de Banjo," "Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair," "Here Comes the Heavin' Line" and "Old Black Joe," words and music by Stephen Foster.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 December 1939
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 30 December 1939
Production Date:
began late August 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth-Century Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
13 December 1939
Copyright Number:
LP9693
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Microphonic Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
84
Length(in feet):
7,894
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
5664
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Stephen Foster's family insists that he accept a seven-dollar-a-week shipping clerk job in Cincinnati, but he prefers to write songs. Stephen's prospective father-in-law Andrew McDowell has no faith in Stephen, who wants to write "music from the heart of the simple people of the South." The struggling composer is content to sell "Oh Suzanna" for fifteen dollars to minstrel singer E. P. Christy and allows Christy to take credit as its writer. Soon, the song is sweeping the country, and Stephen follows it with "De Camptown Races" and goes on tour with Christy's troup. Solvent at last, Stephen marries Jane McDowell, and a daughter Marion is born to them. Inspired by his wife's beauty, Stephen writes "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair." However, Stephen's prosperity ends when his classical music fails and the advent of the Civil War brands his music as traitorous. When he turns to drinking, Jane leaves him, but two years later returns to encourage him to write "The Old Folks at Home." Stephen never hears his composition performed, however, for on the night that Christy presents the song to a New York audience, the composer dies of a heart ... +


Stephen Foster's family insists that he accept a seven-dollar-a-week shipping clerk job in Cincinnati, but he prefers to write songs. Stephen's prospective father-in-law Andrew McDowell has no faith in Stephen, who wants to write "music from the heart of the simple people of the South." The struggling composer is content to sell "Oh Suzanna" for fifteen dollars to minstrel singer E. P. Christy and allows Christy to take credit as its writer. Soon, the song is sweeping the country, and Stephen follows it with "De Camptown Races" and goes on tour with Christy's troup. Solvent at last, Stephen marries Jane McDowell, and a daughter Marion is born to them. Inspired by his wife's beauty, Stephen writes "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair." However, Stephen's prosperity ends when his classical music fails and the advent of the Civil War brands his music as traitorous. When he turns to drinking, Jane leaves him, but two years later returns to encourage him to write "The Old Folks at Home." Stephen never hears his composition performed, however, for on the night that Christy presents the song to a New York audience, the composer dies of a heart attack. +

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.