Review: ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’

Adventures of Tom Sawyer is in Technicolor and contains visual beauty and appeal in addition to a faithful and nearly literal adaptation of the Mark Twain story.

Adventures of Tom Sawyer is in Technicolor and contains visual beauty and appeal in addition to a faithful and nearly literal adaptation of the Mark Twain story.

The story of the boy in an isolated Missouri community of the 1880s, who made fence-painting an enviable art, who attended his own funeral services, who was the cynosure of all eyes in the witness chair at an exciting murder trial, who teased and plagued his elders and melted in tears at the slightest kindness, is imperishable.

Casting of the picture was reported a laborious job, in the course of which hundreds of boys were tested before Tommy Kelly, from the Bronx, NY, was selected for the role of Tom. His early scenes show self-consciousness but in the final sequences when he is being pursued by Injun Joe, Kelly performs like a veteran.

Walter Brennan is a standout among the adult players. He is the village drunkard, Muff Potter, accused of the graveyard murder.

May Robson loses no opportunities as Aunt Polly, whose life by turn is celestial and hellish depending upon the vagaries of Tom’s vivid imagination.

Injun Joe is played by Victor Jory with all the fiendish villainy in the part.

1938: Nomination: Art Direction

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Production

Selznick/United Artists. Director Norman Taurog; Producer David O. Selznick; Writer John V.A. Weaver; Camera James Wong Howe, Wilfrid M. Cline Editor Hal C. Kern, Margaret Clancey; Music Lou Forbes Art Lyle Wheeler, William Cameron Menzies, Casey Roberts.

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1938. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Tommy Kelly Jackie Moran Ann Gillis May Robson Walter Brennan Victor Jory

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