So rich and full was the life of Mark Twain, born Sam Clemens, that it requires two hours-plus to tell the full tale [adapted from Twain’s works, and Harold M. Sherman’s play Mark Twain, by Alan LeMay and Sherman]. It is a film that has its measure of symbolism: linking the humorist’s lifetime of 75 years to appearances of Halley’s Comet. The astronomical display was visible when Sam Clemens was born in Hannibal, Mo, on the banks of the Mississippi, and 75 years later, when the Chancellor of Oxford extols the great American writer, at a time when the famed university is also paying honor to Rudyard Kipling with an honorary doctorate of literature, it again makes its astral appearance.
In between Clemens has adventured as a river boatman, journeyman reporter, and western goldrusher, only to find sudden fame with his saga of the jumping frogs. Soon follow renown and fortune as Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and the rest of his ‘funny books’ capture the hearts and the minds of all America, only to be dissipated in abortive attempts with an automatic printing press, extravagant publishing ventures and the like.
1944: Nominations: Best B&W Art Direction, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture, Special Effects