Huckleberry Finn (1974 film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||J. Lee Thompson|
|Produced by||Arthur P. Jacobs|
|Written by||Robert B. Sherman,|
Richard M. Sherman,
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
|Edited by||Michael F. Anderson|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
The movie was produced by Reader's Digest and Arthur P. Jacobs (known for his role in the production of the Planet of the Apes films) and directed by J. Lee Thompson. It stars Jeff East as Huckleberry Finn and Paul Winfield as Jim. The film contains original music and songs, such as "Freedom" and "Cairo, Illinois", by the Sherman Brothers: Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.
This film followed the previous year's highly successful Tom Sawyer, based on Twain's novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, also produced and written by the same team and starring East in the role of Huckleberry Finn.
Huckleberry Finn (Jeff East) is a boy from Missouri living with a kindly widow and her sister who has taken him in. One day his father (Gary Merrill), previously thought dead, shows up because he heard of treasure Huck had found. Huck's pap essentially kidnaps the boy, wanting $1000 for his safe return. Staging his own death, Huck escapes and meets up with the kindly slave Jim (Paul Winfield). Together they travel downriver, in search of Jim's freedom.
- Jeff East as Huckleberry Finn
- Paul Winfield as Jim
- Harvey Korman as The King
- David Wayne as The Duke
- Arthur O'Connell as Col. Grangerford
- Gary Merrill as Pap
- Natalie Trundy as Mrs. Loftus
- Lucille Benson as Widow Douglas
- Kim O'Brien as Maryjane Wilks
- Jean Fay as Susan Wilks
- Ruby Leftwich as Miss Watson
- Odessa Cleveland as Jim's wife
Setbacks in the film's production
The 1974 movie faced numerous setbacks in production. There was the sudden death of producer Arthur Jacobs halfway through the shoot. Director J. Lee Thompson had problems with the synchronized musical direction. The third major problem was the unfortunate timing of writer Robert B. Sherman's knee operation.
Without a producer, the film crew had difficulties managing the actors. Roberta Flack sang "Freedom" but insisted on having a guitar backing to her recording. She later threatened to sue if the original cast album was released with a dominant orchestral backing, and so although the album was recorded and printed, it was never released.
Despite these setbacks, the film still achieved some success and some of the film's songs, including "Freedom", are still considered classics.
The songs and score were written by the Sherman Brothers.
- "Freedom". Sung by Roberta Flack (who did not approve of the musical arrangement and threatened a lawsuit if the original cast album were not remixed to her liking).
- "Someday, Honey Darlin'". Sung by Paul Winfield.
- "Rotten Luck". Sung by Gary Merrill (the entire song was filmed sans-sync except for the final line of the song in which we see Merrill look back at the cabin and say, "And now my luck... It ain't so bad!").
- "Cairo, Illinois". Sung by Jeff East and Paul Winfield.
- "A Rose In A Bible".
- "Royalty!". Sung by Harvey Korman and David Wayne.
- "The Royal Nonesuch". Sung by Harvey Korman.
- "What's Right, What's Wrong?" Sung by Jeff East.
- "Into His Hands". Sung by Harvey Korman.
- Sherman, Robert B. Walt's Time: from before to beyond. Pages: 178-181, Santa Clarita: Camphor Tree Publishers, 1998.