Harmony Lane


1h 24m 1935

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 28, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Mascot Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Mascot Pictures Corp.; Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,641ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

In the winter of 1848, Stephen Foster stands at the back of a black church, absorbing the melodies of the spirituals. With an idea for a song, he rushes to the home of his sweetheart, Susan Pentland, but he is expelled by her father, who disapproves of musicians, as does Stephen's own father. Ordered by his father to work in the Dunning Foster Steamship Co., Stephen becomes engaged to Susan, and he is inspired to complete his song "Oh! Susanna." However, although the song is internationally popular, Stephen is a failure in the family business, and Susan writes that she has married someone else. Depressed, Stephen is at a hofbrau with his friend, Professor Henry Kleber, a music teacher, when he meets Edwin P. Christy, an egotistical but likable leader of a minstrel show. Still heartbroken over Susan, Stephen is lured home by a family friend, Jane McDowall, and they are married in 1850. He sells "Old Folks at Home" to Christy for five hundred dollars, but Jane is dissatisfied, demanding a home of her own and spending money. Disapproving of minstrel shows, she walks out when Christy asks Stephen to give the first public performance of his song. Susan, who attends the show with her husband, Andrew Robinson, is touched by the song and invites the Fosters to visit them in Kentucky. There Stephen writes "Old Black Joe" and learns that Susan broke their engagement because of rumors told by Jane. From 1852 to 1857, he writes prolifically to support Jane and their daughter Marion, to whom he is devoted; however, one night he meets the drunken Christy singing "No One to Love" and brings him home, after which Jane announces she is leaving. Instead, Stephen leaves and moves to New York, where he turns out more music and begins to drink. Susan and Andrew visit him, but Stephen tells Susan he cannot bear to see her anymore. Soon he is beset by rejections from publishers, who no longer want "plantation songs," financial problems and alchoholism. In 1862, Stephen writes "Beautiful Dreamer," but sells it for only twenty-five dollars because he needs the cash. Kleber and Christy arrange a benefit performance, and Susan is sent to ask Stephen to attend. She is shocked at his aged, worn condition, miserable apartment and torn clothes. Although he promises to come, Kleber later finds Stephen dying, and Christy makes the announcement of his death.

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 28, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Mascot Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Mascot Pictures Corp.; Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,641ft (9 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Preceeding the credits is the following note: "This picture is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Collins Foster, one of America's never-to-be-forgotten sons. The man who wrote the songs which will forever live in our hearts." A news item in Hollywood Reporter notes that William Frawley replaced George Jessel, who was unable to start filming on time. According to the Variety review, this was the first film in which Frawley sang. As Republic took over Mascot in 1935, reviews of Harmony Lane list both companies as distributors. Other films based on Foster's life include Twentieth Century-Fox's 1940 release Swanee River, directed by Sidney Lanfield and starring Don Ameche (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.4420).