The Adventures of Mark Twain


2h 10m 1944
The Adventures of Mark Twain

Brief Synopsis

Twain moves from Mississippi riverboats to the Gold Rush to literary immortality.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Biography
Adaptation
Release Date
May 6, 1944
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 10m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
11,706ft

Synopsis

On November 30, 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.

Cast

Fredric March

Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain

Alexis Smith

Olivia Langdon

Donald Crisp

J. B. Pond

Alan Hale

Steve Gillis

C. Aubrey Smith

Oxford Chancellor

John Carradine

Bret Harte

Bill Henry

Charles Langdon

Robert Barrat

Horace E. Bixby

Walter Hampden

Jervis Langdon

Joyce Reynolds

Clara Clemens

Whitford Kane

Joe Goodwin

Percy Kilbride

Billings

Nana Bryant

Mrs. Langdon

Dennis Donnelly

Baby

Hooper Atchley

Secretary

Frank Wilcox

Judge Clemens

Jackie Brown

Sam Clemens, 12 years old

Dickie Jones

Sam Clemens, 15 years old

Kay Johnson

Jane Clemens

Eugene Holland

Huckleberry Finn

Michael Miller

Tom Sawyer

Frederick Spencer

Jim

Russell Gleason

Orion Clemens

Christian Rub

Jones

Harry Woods

Leadsman

Victor Kilian

Higgins

Eddie Waller

Southerner

Earle Dewey

Southerner

Ice Powell

Cowboy

Sammy Mckim

Cub pilot

Harry Worth

Gambler

Lee "lasses" White

Yokel

Ernie Adams

Pickpocket

William Gould

Officer

Arthur Aylsworth

Missourian

Jack Mower

Pilot

Frank Mayo

Pilot

Lew Kelly

Pilot

Paul Panzer

Pilot

Monte Blue

Captain

Paul Newlan

Boss deck hand

Ernest Whitman

Stoker

Emmett Smith

Repeater

Pat O'malley

Captain's aide

Frank Pharr

Stagecoach passenger

Norman Willis

Ben Lake

Dick Elliott

Bystander

Bud Osborne

Lee Griggs

Thurston Hall

Politician

Chester Conklin

Judge

John "skins" Miller

Cross-eyed man

Willie Fung

Chinese man

Creighton Hale

Man with mule

Fred Kelsey

Old man

Oliver Prickett

Miner

Leo White

Barber

Joseph Crehan

Promoter

Harry Wyler

Assistant editor

Roland Drew

Editor

Walter Soderling

Telegrapher

Sailor Vincent

Shopkeeper

Frank Darien

Shopkeeper

Frank Reicher

Doctor

Douglas Wood

William Dean Howells

Willie Best

George

Burr Caruth

Oliver W. Holmes

Harry Hilliard

John G. Whittier

Brandon Hurst

Ralph W. Emerson

Davison Clark

Henry Longfellow

Harry Holman

Drunken guest

Frank Dae

Houghton

Francis Pierlot

Paige

Joseph Crehan

General Ulysses S. Grant

Jessie Grayson

Housekeeper

George Lessey

Henry H. Rogers

Dorothy Vaughan

Kate Leary

Gloria Ann Crawford

Susie, as child

Lynne Baggett

Susie

Carol Joyce Coombs

Clara, as child

Charlene Salerno

Jean, as child

Joyce Tucker

Jean

Charles Waldron

Dr. Quintard

Paul Scardon

Rudyard Kipling

Charles Irwin

English reporter

Ross Ford

Howell's secretary

Rosina Galli

Italian nurse

George Sherwood

Prospector

Charles Marsh

Prospector

Charles Mcavoy

Prospector

Jim Farley

Prospector

Cliff Saum

Prospector

Henry Blair

Boy

Bobby Larson

Boy

Peter Lawford

English boy

Robert Herrick

English boy

Charles Peck

English boy

Bill Lechner

English boy

George Reed

Black man

Sam Mcdaniel

Black man

Dudley Dickerson

Black man

Libby Taylor

Black woman

Lillian Randolph

Black woman

Mildred Gover

Black woman

Richard Kipling

Bill Edwards

William Haade

Bill Kennedy

Stuart Holmes

Jack Gardner

Jack Gargan

Francis Sayles

George Humbert

Robert Homans

George Haywood

Betty Roadman

Viola Callahan

Joan Winfield

Sarah Edwards

Leah Baird

Videos

Movie Clip

Adventures Of Mark Twain, The (1944) - Born Under The Comet Opening with what will be a theme throughout, Halley’s comet in 1835 over Missouri, Frank Wilcox as Judge Clemens who becomes the father of Samuel, a.k.a. Mark Twain, who appears in the person of Fredric March, reflecting later in life, in the complicated Warner Bros. bio-pic, The Adventures Of Mark Twain,1944.
Adventures Of Mark Twain, The (1944) - You And Your Tall Tales Facing failure as miner in Nevada, with Alan Hale as his partner, Fredric March as Samuel Clemens doesn’t realize that Donald Crisp as J.B. Pond, is looking for “Mark Twain,” the pseudonym he first used when he submitted “The Celebrated Jumping Frog Of Calaveras County,” which had become a sensation back east, in The Adventures Of Mark Twain,1944.
Adventures Of Mark Twain, The (1944) - You Are Merely The Most Numerous Samuel Clemens (Fredric March, title character) uncomfortable and working with no introduction, in New York for his first lecture appearance as “Mark Twain,” improvises, with some real witticisms from the author, and Alexis Smith, her photo seen frequently before, appearing at last in the audience, with her brother, his old pal, Walter Hampden, in The Adventures Of Mark Twain,1944.
Adventures Of Mark Twain, The (1944) - Safe Water Dickie Jones has assumed the title role as Samuel Clemens, age 15, learning to be a Mississippi River steamboat pilot, ca. 1850, Robert Barrat his crusty mentor captain Bixby, though the corresponding episodes in Clemens’ real life came later, in the Warner Bros. bio-pic The Adventures Of Mark Twain,1944, starring Fredric March.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Biography
Adaptation
Release Date
May 6, 1944
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 10m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
11,706ft

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1944

Best Score

1944

Best Special Effects

1945

Articles

The Adventures of Mark Twain


Sol Polito could shoot anything. During his 35-year career, the Italian-born cameraman filmed toe-tapping chorines in 42nd Street (1933), a folk legend come to life in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and dueling divas Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins in Old Acquaintance (1943), all at Warner Bros. The studio's leading ladies loved him because he knew how to make them look young and appealing no matter how old and tired they got. On The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944), however, he did the reverse. He helped Fredric March age 75 years for one of the actor's most famous portrayals.

It seemed that nobody but Jesse L. Lasky wanted to make The Adventures of Mark Twain. After scoring a hit with another American legend in Sergeant York (1941), he fought for a year to convince Warner Bros. to back a screen biography of the noted writer and humorist. Director Irving Rapper wasn't interested in making the film until he learned that his friend, March, was the first choice to star. March had been suggested by Twain's only living daughter, Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch, who informed Lasky that she would not help with the picture unless March played her father. But even with such a stirring endorsement, March had his doubts. He only accepted the role after the makeup department shot a test in which he played Twain at 65. When a shot of March in make-up was released to the papers, Twain's daughter thought somebody had discovered another archival photo of her father.

March set out to learn all he could about Twain, a daunting task considering that the studio's research department had assembled a 72 page bibliography on the man, not to mention finding 2,345 photos and conducting interviews with 148 people who had known or observed him. One of those was actor C. Aubrey Smith, who had seen Twain accept an honorary degree at Oxford. In the film, he would play the Oxford chancellor conferring that degree.

March spent 12 weeks working with the make-up department to develop Twain's look for the various ages depicted in the film. Since Twain's nose seemed to change shape over time, they created three different noses for March to wear at different ages. March also pored over the single piece of film on Twain, a 100-foot newsreel. After speaking to many who had known Twain and hearing contradictory accounts of his speech patterns, he put their testimonies together, deciding that he would start speaking slowly until he was sure his listener was following him. Then he would speed up to match the rhythm noted by other witnesses. Years later he would confess to missing one of Twain's mannerisms, his habit of playing with the bottom of his shirtsleeve. He would also praise Hal Holbrook for incorporating that in his award-winning stage performance in Mark Twain Tonight.

Although the film was shot largely on the Warner Bros. back lot, second unit crews captured footage of Twain's hometown, Hannibal, Mo.; the study in his farm in Elmira, N.Y.; and his home in Hartford, Conn. The Mississippi River shown in the film was actually a studio miniature, complete with rotting stumps along the shore and a model version of the paddle wheeler Twain saw destroyed during the Civil War. The special effects department also aided in the dramatization of Twain's story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," and created animated versions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, all of which helped the film score an Oscar® nomination for Best Special Effects.

Although The Adventures of Mark Twain was finished in 1942, it sat on the shelf for almost two years as the studio focused on releasing pictures about World War II while they were still timely. After completing a USO tour, however, March urged Warner's to release the film to military audiences because of its sense of American history. The GIs saw the picture in March 1944, with a theatrical release finally scheduled two months later. Critics lauded March's performance, though they found the film overly episodic as it tried to capture events from several periods of Twain's life. However, over time, the film and March's performance have attracted a devoted following, largely through television presentations.

Producer: Jesse L. Lasky
Director: Irving Rapper
Screenplay: Alan LeMay, Harry Chandlee
Based on an adaptation by Alan LeMay and Harold M. Sherman of biographical material owned by the Mark Twain Co.
Cinematography: Sol Polito
Art Direction: John Hughes, Fred MacLean
Music: Max Steiner
Principal Cast: Fredric March (Samuel Clemens), Alexis Smith (Olivia Langdon), Donald Crisp (J.B. Pond), Alan Hale (Steve Gillis), C. Aubrey Smith (Oxford Chancellor), John Carradine (Bret Harte), Walter Hampden (Jarvis Langdon), Percy Kilbride (Billings), Willie Best (George).
BW-131m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Frank Miller
The Adventures Of Mark Twain

The Adventures of Mark Twain

Sol Polito could shoot anything. During his 35-year career, the Italian-born cameraman filmed toe-tapping chorines in 42nd Street (1933), a folk legend come to life in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and dueling divas Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins in Old Acquaintance (1943), all at Warner Bros. The studio's leading ladies loved him because he knew how to make them look young and appealing no matter how old and tired they got. On The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944), however, he did the reverse. He helped Fredric March age 75 years for one of the actor's most famous portrayals. It seemed that nobody but Jesse L. Lasky wanted to make The Adventures of Mark Twain. After scoring a hit with another American legend in Sergeant York (1941), he fought for a year to convince Warner Bros. to back a screen biography of the noted writer and humorist. Director Irving Rapper wasn't interested in making the film until he learned that his friend, March, was the first choice to star. March had been suggested by Twain's only living daughter, Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch, who informed Lasky that she would not help with the picture unless March played her father. But even with such a stirring endorsement, March had his doubts. He only accepted the role after the makeup department shot a test in which he played Twain at 65. When a shot of March in make-up was released to the papers, Twain's daughter thought somebody had discovered another archival photo of her father. March set out to learn all he could about Twain, a daunting task considering that the studio's research department had assembled a 72 page bibliography on the man, not to mention finding 2,345 photos and conducting interviews with 148 people who had known or observed him. One of those was actor C. Aubrey Smith, who had seen Twain accept an honorary degree at Oxford. In the film, he would play the Oxford chancellor conferring that degree. March spent 12 weeks working with the make-up department to develop Twain's look for the various ages depicted in the film. Since Twain's nose seemed to change shape over time, they created three different noses for March to wear at different ages. March also pored over the single piece of film on Twain, a 100-foot newsreel. After speaking to many who had known Twain and hearing contradictory accounts of his speech patterns, he put their testimonies together, deciding that he would start speaking slowly until he was sure his listener was following him. Then he would speed up to match the rhythm noted by other witnesses. Years later he would confess to missing one of Twain's mannerisms, his habit of playing with the bottom of his shirtsleeve. He would also praise Hal Holbrook for incorporating that in his award-winning stage performance in Mark Twain Tonight. Although the film was shot largely on the Warner Bros. back lot, second unit crews captured footage of Twain's hometown, Hannibal, Mo.; the study in his farm in Elmira, N.Y.; and his home in Hartford, Conn. The Mississippi River shown in the film was actually a studio miniature, complete with rotting stumps along the shore and a model version of the paddle wheeler Twain saw destroyed during the Civil War. The special effects department also aided in the dramatization of Twain's story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," and created animated versions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, all of which helped the film score an Oscar® nomination for Best Special Effects. Although The Adventures of Mark Twain was finished in 1942, it sat on the shelf for almost two years as the studio focused on releasing pictures about World War II while they were still timely. After completing a USO tour, however, March urged Warner's to release the film to military audiences because of its sense of American history. The GIs saw the picture in March 1944, with a theatrical release finally scheduled two months later. Critics lauded March's performance, though they found the film overly episodic as it tried to capture events from several periods of Twain's life. However, over time, the film and March's performance have attracted a devoted following, largely through television presentations. Producer: Jesse L. Lasky Director: Irving Rapper Screenplay: Alan LeMay, Harry Chandlee Based on an adaptation by Alan LeMay and Harold M. Sherman of biographical material owned by the Mark Twain Co. Cinematography: Sol Polito Art Direction: John Hughes, Fred MacLean Music: Max Steiner Principal Cast: Fredric March (Samuel Clemens), Alexis Smith (Olivia Langdon), Donald Crisp (J.B. Pond), Alan Hale (Steve Gillis), C. Aubrey Smith (Oxford Chancellor), John Carradine (Bret Harte), Walter Hampden (Jarvis Langdon), Percy Kilbride (Billings), Willie Best (George). BW-131m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. by Frank Miller

Quotes

Ladies and gentlemen, William Shakespeare, the greatest author in the English language is dead.....and I feel far from well myself.
- Mark Twain

Trivia

The scene where Clemens receives an honorary degree from Oxford University in 1907 was the recreation of an event that C. Aubrey Smith actually witnessed.

Notes

Samuel Clemens was born on November 30, 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 April 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 April 21, 1944 article in Tidings, it was held back because Warner Bros. gave precedence to more topical, war-related films. Hollywood Reporter 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.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer July 22, 1944

Released in United States Summer July 22, 1944