Cast & Crew
Aboard a steamer headed to Aunt Sally's and Parson Silas Phelps's farm for the summer, Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer meet Jake Dunlap. Jake has hidden two diamonds in the heel of his boot and confesses that two thieves are after him. When they arrive, he dons a disguise and hides in a cabin near the Phelps's farm. Jake happens to be the long-lost brother of Jupiter Dunlap, the Phelps's hired hand. One night Silas loses his temper with Jupiter and hits him on the head in the forest. Terrified, Silas leaves Jupiter lying there, then, when Jupiter awakens he tells his other brother Brace. Jake is killed by the thieves in his cabin, and his body is discovered by Brace, who puts Jupiter's clothes on Jake and leaves him in the forest to set the parson up for murder. Brace checks Jake's pockets, but cannot find the diamonds. Silas is arrested, and Sally joins him for his stay in jail. Tom and Huck go to the graveyard at night and find the diamonds in the heel of Jake's boot. They realize there has been a case of mistaken identity and that Silas is innocent. Tom and Huck are accidentally locked in the crypt overnight, but manage to dig themselves out by the next day and burst into the courtroom just in time to prove that the man pretending to be Jake is actually Jupiter, by the birthmarks on his leg. Brace and Jupiter are exposed as con men, and Tom and Huck get a reward for finding the missing diamonds.
Edward J. Pawley
Foy Van Dolsen
Vic Demoruelle Jr.
A. E. Freudeman
Edward T. Lowe
Donald O'Connor, 1925-2003
Born Donald David Dixon O' Connor in Chicago on August 28, 1925, he was raised in an atmosphere of show business. His parents were circus trapeze artists and later vaudeville entertainers, and as soon as young Donald was old enough to walk, he was performing in a variety of dance and stunt routines all across the country. Discovered by a film scout at age 11, he made his film debut with two of his brothers in Melody for Two (1937), and was singled out for a contract by Paramount Pictures. He co-starred with Bing Crosby and Fred MacMurray in Sing, You Sinners (1938) and played juvenile roles in several films, including Huckleberry Finn in Tom Sawyer - Detective (1938) and the title character as a child in Beau Geste (1939).
As O'Connor grew into adolescence, he fared pretty well as a youthful hoofer, dancing up a storm in a string of low-budget, but engaging musicals for Universal Studios (often teamed with the equally vigorous Peggy Ryan) during World War II. Titles like What's Cookin', Get Hep to Love (both 1942), Chip Off the Old Block and Strictly in the Groove (both 1943) made for some fairly innocuous entertainment, but they went a long way in displaying O'Connor's athletic dancing and boyish charm. As an adult, O'Connor struck paydirt again when he starred opposite a talking mule (with a voice supplied by Chill Wills) in the enormously popular Francis (1949). The story about an Army private who discovers that only he can communicate with a talking army mule, proved to be a very profitable hit with kids, and Universal went on to star him in several sequels.
Yet if O'Connor had to stake his claim to cinematic greatness, it would unquestionably be his daringly acrobatic, brazenly funny turn as Cosmo Brown, Gene Kelly's sidekick in the brilliant Singin' in the Rain (1952). Although his self-choreographed routine of "Make "Em Laugh" (which includes a mind-bending series of backflips off the walls) is often singled out as the highlight, in truth, his whole performance is one of the highlights of the film. His deft comic delivery of one-liners, crazy facial expressions (just watch him lampoon the diction teacher in the glorious "Moses Supposes" bit) and exhilarating dance moves (the opening "Fit As a Fiddle" number with Kelly to name just one) throughout the film are just sheer film treats in any critic's book.
After the success of Singin' in the Rain, O'Connor proved that he had enough charisma to command his first starring vehicle, opposite Debbie Reynolds, in the cute musical I Love Melvin (1953). He also found good parts in Call Me Madam (1953), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), and Anything Goes (1956). Unfortunately, his one attempt at a strong dramatic role, the lead in the weak biopic The Buster Keaton Story (1957) proved to be misstep, and he was panned by the critics.
By the '60s, the popularity of musicals had faded, and O'Connor spent the next several years supporting himself with many dinner theater and nightclub appearances; but just when it looked like we wouldn't see O'Connor's talent shine again on the small or big screen, he found himself in demand at the dawn of the '90s in a string of TV appearances: Murder She Wrote, Tales From the Crypt, Fraser, The Nanny; and movies: Robin Williams' toy-manufacturer father in Toys (1992), a fellow passenger in the Lemmon-Matthau comedy, Out to Sea (1997), that were as welcoming as they were heartening. Survivors include his wife, Gloria; four children, Alicia, Donna, Fred and Kevin; and four grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Donald O'Connor, 1925-2003
Although the film is based on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, it is a loose interpretation of that work. The pressbook in the copyright records indicates that the scene of the Arkansas town was filmed on location at Lake Arrowhead, CA. For other films based on the novel, please see entry above on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.