[Variety Reviews]

Tom Sawyer, Detective



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February 15th 1939

Miniature Review
'Tom Sawyer, Detective'(Par).
No name cast in wandering version of Mark Twain tale. Indicates limited draw.

Tom Sawyer, Detective

Paramount production and release. Features Donald O'Connor and Billy Cook. Directed by Louis King. Screenplay by Lewis Foster, Robert Yost and Stuart Anthony; based on the Mark Twain classic; editor, Ellsworth Hoagland; camera, Ted Tetziaff. At Strand Brooklyn, week of Feb. 10, '39, dual. Running time: 68 MINS.
Tom Sawyer...................Billy Cook
Huckleberry Finn.............Donald O'Connor
Uncle Silas..................Porter Hall
Jeff Rutledge................Phillip Warren
Ruth Phelps..................Janet Waldo
Aunt Sally...................Elisabeth Risdon
Jupiter Dunlap/Jake Dunlap...William Haade
Brace Dunlap.................Edward J. Pauley
Sheriff Slocum...............Clem Bevans
Judge Tyler..................Raymond Hatton
Prosecuter...................Howard Mitchell
Clayton......................Stanley Price
Dixon........................Harry Worth
Aunt Polly...................Clara Blandick
Farmer Sikes.................Si Jenks
Tulip........................Etta McDaniel
Curfew.......................Oscar Smith
Sheriff Walker...............Monte Blue
Alex Cooper..................Foy Van Dolson

_______

..... Mark Twain doubtlessly would have difficulty in recognizing his story from this screen version. of the lesser known yarn, "Tom Sawyer Detective." Also he would have difficulty in identifying some of the characters and what they do. Picture may satisfy certain juveniles, but, for adult trade, it is a minor 'B' effort. Exhibitors, furthermore have the task of selling a no-name cast.
..... Production seemingly represents considerable production outlay. It is hampered, however, by feeble scripting and equally deficient direction. Louis King's handling of the juveniles evidences that's not his forte. He requires four rels to really get into the meat of the yarn, which requires a deft and original handling to amount to much. When he finally gets going, weird offshoots of the original tale crop out to hamper a clear recital of the Mark Twain juve characters.
..... After pushing the boys (Huck and Tom Sawyer) off on a vacation, then up the river and back to school, the fable finally gets down to the main amateur sleuth theme. Story depicts an Arkansas Preacher, unjustly accused of murder, and the ingenuity of the two lads which saves the day and proves in the court what has long been obvious to the audience.
..... Billy Cook and Donald O'Connor are cast as Tom and Huck. Both show a spark intermittently, but not adequately. They are supported by a miscellaneous troop, with veterans of ability subordinated to newcomers who flounder miserably.
..... Porter Hall lends some realism to the wronged deacon, but Elisabeth Risdon, usually capable, is smothered in her role. Edward J. Pawley appears as a patently villainous landowner. Phillip Warren, newcomer, looms as just another juve, as the young lawyer-hero in the film. Opposite him is spotted newcomer Janet Waldo, for love interest. Both evidence a lack in fundamentals. William Haade, in the dual role, shows glimpses of talent. In contrast, capable Clara Blandick is confined to a minor bit. And Raymond Hatton is submerged in a comedy judge role while Monte Blue is on for a flash as a sheriff. Clem Bevans is satisfying as a hick sheriff. Support is weaker than usual for a program film.
................................Wear



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