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A Weekend With David O. Selznick — 8 Comments

  1. That does it. I have not seen this version of Tom Sawyer since I was a kid, and it's clearly time to see it again. The best film version, you say? Well, I am excited to see this again. 🙂

  2. I agree, Silver, you're overdue; you won't be sorry. Kids love the movie, but it takes grown-up eyes to appreciate it fully. I hold that it's the best movie version of a Mark Twain story. But there can be no question that it's the best version of this particular story. The 1930 version with Jackie Coogan suffers from primitive sound technology and the fact that Jackie was 16 at the time, a bit long in the tooth for his role (interestingly, though, that picture's ending prefigures the fadeout of the Selznick version). The less said about the 1973 musical version with the insufferable Johnny Whitaker, the better.

  3. About a year ago a query came up on a movie forum that wondered what was the oldest title with two co-stars still living? At the time the best answer was thought to be Bright Eyes (1934) with Shirley Temple and Jane Withers. After Shirley's death the best answer was thought to be The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Peck's Bad Boy at the Circus, both in 1938 and both with Tommy Kelly and Ann Gillis. But the query had a lot of wiggle room as far as what constituted a "co-star."

  4. Welcome, crag! I think you may have hit it — with Peck's Bad Boy with the Circus getting the edge, since Tommy and Ann both got top billing in that one. Until last April, when Mickey Rooney left us, I would have voted for A Midsummer Night's Dream.

  5. …with Olivia deHaviland. I see. I remember in those old discussion Rooney's name came up, but I don't recall that anyone made the connection to deHaviland. Interesting!

    While people are throwing their favorite Mark Twain productions out there, I have fond memories of the version with Patrick Day as Huckleberry Finn that appeared on "American Playhouse" in 1986.

  6. Jim

    Great blog and just wanted to chime in on Selznick's "Adventures of Tom Sawyer"
    Classic Selznick filming follies, according to my father the Art Director Lyle Wheeler. He imparted wisdom of trying to keep up with Selznicks meddling or as most who worked for him realized driven quest for perfection.
    As Lyle was SIP Supervising Art Director and head of the young studios art dept., 1935-1941 he was very busy with demands of production schedule especially 1936-1939. From "Garden of Allah" , "A Tale of Two Cities" through "A Star Is Born", "Nothing Sacred", "Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (teaming Lyle and William Cameron Menzies), "Young In Heart" to " Gone With The Wind", "Intermezzo" and finally "Rebecca"
    (Hitchcock's directorial debut in the US, who banned Selznick from visiting his own production sets, only communicating through his famous memos)
    Thank you
    W. Brooke Wheeler, son of Lyle Wheeler.