The Adventures of Mark Twain

Overview

Dismissed by critics as corny and obvious in 1944, this overlong but sincere biopic looks pretty good when seen today, cliches notwithstanding. Fredric March, 47 at the time, convincingly plays American author Sam Clemens, aka Mark Twain, from his early 20s to his death at 75. In typical movie-biography fashion, every single incident that happens in Twain's life is an INSPIRATION: he hears the depth-indication call "Mark Twain" while working on a riverboat and his face lights up; he engages in a jumping-frog ...
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Overview

Dismissed by critics as corny and obvious in 1944, this overlong but sincere biopic looks pretty good when seen today, cliches notwithstanding. Fredric March, 47 at the time, convincingly plays American author Sam Clemens, aka Mark Twain, from his early 20s to his death at 75. In typical movie-biography fashion, every single incident that happens in Twain's life is an INSPIRATION: he hears the depth-indication call "Mark Twain" while working on a riverboat and his face lights up; he engages in a jumping-frog contest against Bret Harte John Carradine and comes up with his first popular published story; and so on. Alexis Smith is better than usual in the role of Twain's wife Olivia Langdon, even keeping a straight face while Twain courts her in Fluent Quotation "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it," he says during a Hollywood-romance cloudburst. Though the script barely touches upon the dark side of Twain's nature, we are not spared his financial reverses brought about by bad investments and his struggle to publish Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs. The closing sequence, with Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn beckoning the spirit of Mark Twain to heaven as Halley's Comet fills the skies, may seem laughable on paper, but works quite well on film; even director Irving Rapper expressed amazement at the effectiveness of this scene!
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The Adventures of Mark Twain is a decent biography of half of one of America's most celebrated writers -- half because it tends to present the lighter side of Mark Twain while ignoring the darker side that made him a complex and interesting person and writer. None of the bite or bile that seeps through his writing is presented on the screen, resulting in a fairly sugarcoated character that's certainly pleasant to be with and has a ready supply of witty observations but doesn't come fully alive as a human being. Of course, the film is also prone to the kind of clichés (and factual errors) that Hollywood biopics are famous for, but the clichés at least are handled fairly well. Indeed, director Irving Rapper does a more than decent job all around of keeping things entertaining and interesting; he even makes an ending that could seem unbearably corny into something quite memorable. Obviously, he's aided immeasurably in this by the wonderful performance of Fredric March, who is at all times convincing and melds his own specific charm with that of Twain to create a character that one is happy to spend time with. Mark Twain has more than its share of flaws, but Fredric March makes up for a great deal of them.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/23/2009
  • UPC: 883316125625
  • Original Release: 1944
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Time: 2:10:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Fredric March Mark Twain
Alexis Smith Olivia Langdon
Donald Crisp J.B. Pond
Alan Hale Steve Gillis
C. Aubrey Smith Oxford Chancellor
John Carradine Bret Harte
William Henry Charles Langdon
Robert H. Barrat Horace E. Bixby
Walter Hampden Jervis Langdon
Joyce Reynolds Clara Clemens
Whitford Kane Joe Goodwin
Percy Kilbride Billings
Nana Bryant Mrs. Langdon
Dick Jones Sam Clemens at fifteen
Kay Johnson Jane Clemens
Jackie Brown Sam Clemens at twelve
Michael Miller Tom Sawyer
Joseph Crehan Promoter, Ulysses S. Grant
Cliff Saum Prospector
Harry Tyler Assistant Editor
Roland Drew Editor
Douglas Wood William Dean Howells
Willie Best George
Burr Caruth Oliver Wendell Holmes
Brandon Hurst Ralph Waldo Emerson
Davison Clark Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Monte Blue Captain
Paul Newlan Boss Deckhand
Ernest Whitman Stoker
Emmett E. Smith Repeater
Pat O'Malley Captain's Mate
Chester Conklin Judge
George Lessey Henry H. Rogers
Dorothy Vaughan Kate Leary
Lynne Baggett Susie
Carol Coombs Clara as a Child
Joyce Tucker Jean
Paul Scardon Rudyard Kipling
Harry Hilliard John Greenleaf Whittier
Diana Barrymore
Thurston Hall
Bobby Larson
Frank Mayo
Lee Powell
Frank Reicher
Robert E. Homans
Technical Credits
Irving Rapper Director
Lawrence W. Butler Cinematographer, Special Effects
Harry Chandlee Screenwriter
Ralph Dawson Editor
Leo F. Forbstein Musical Direction/Supervision
John Hughes Production Designer
Jesse Lasky Producer
Robert B. Lee Sound/Sound Designer
James Leicester Cinematographer
Alan LeMay Screenwriter
Edwin Linden Special Effects
Fred MacLean Set Decoration/Design
Orry-Kelly Costumes/Costume Designer
Sol Polito Cinematographer
Don Siegel Cinematographer
Max Steiner Score Composer
Perc Westmore Makeup
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