Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Director: Richard Thorpe

Cast: Mickey Rooney, Walter Connolly, William Frawley

     
 

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Mickey Rooney may have been born to play Mark Twain's legendary hellraiser Huck Finn, but 1939's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is so MGM-ized that Rooney seems to be sedated. Otherwise, this is a slick retelling of the Twain classic, with Huck escaping both the oppressive kindliness of the widow Douglas (Elizabeth Risdon) and the brutality of his

Overview

Mickey Rooney may have been born to play Mark Twain's legendary hellraiser Huck Finn, but 1939's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is so MGM-ized that Rooney seems to be sedated. Otherwise, this is a slick retelling of the Twain classic, with Huck escaping both the oppressive kindliness of the widow Douglas (Elizabeth Risdon) and the brutality of his drink-sodden Pap (Victor Kilian) by faking his own death. He heads down the Mississippi River in the company of fugitive slave Jim (Rex Ingram), who hopes to be reunited with his wife and child. Along the way, they get mixed up in the larcenous schemes of the "King" (Walter Connolly) and the "Duke" (William Frawley.) When Jim stops in his flight to save Huck's life after the latter is bitten by a rattler, the slave is captured and sentenced to be hanged for the "murder" of the still-missing Huck. The boy returns the favor by revealing that he's still alive (completely bypassing the hilarious episode in the book wherein Huck and Tom Sawyer--who has been written out of this filmization--map an elaborate jail breakout scheme). The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is most familiar to baby-boomers via the 30-minute abridged version made available for school showings in the 1960s.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a good if not great adaptation of the Mark Twain classic. Part of the problem is simply that Hollywood in 1939 was not really ready to deal with the racial themes that permeate the book, although this Finn does make a game try. Still, it seems a little bit hamstrung by the need to preach tolerance while at the same time not offending southern theater owners, who often refused to play films that were too sympathetic to black characters. Another problem is the casting of the title role. While Mickey Rooney was probably the best choice available who was also a box-office name, he is not really an ideal Huck Finn. Rooney is the all-American boy, but even though he can be scruffy, he's too squeaky for Finn. And when given the chance to dress as a girl, he plays it like the kid vaudevillian he really is, rather than like a normal boy. That said, Rooney does keep the film lively, and he has a definite presence that works in the context of how the material has been adapted for the screen; if he is not ideal casting as Twain's Huck Finn, he's pretty ideal for MGM's Huck Finn. Children won't much care about this distinction; they'll simply enjoy his antics, the fast pace of the film, and the many amusing and touching episodes.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/23/2009
UPC:
0883316125649
Original Release:
1939
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:32:00
Sales rank:
29,310

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