Harmony Lane (1935)

Genres - Drama, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Docudrama, Melodrama  |   Release Date - Oct 23, 1935 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 84 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Produced on a reasonably lavish scale by the usually parsimonious Mascot Pictures, Harmony Lane was the first of three filmed biographies of 19th-century songwriter Stephen Foster (the others were Fox's Swanee River [1939] and 1952's I Dream of Jeannie, produced by Mascot's successor, Republic Pictures). Douglass Montgomery stars as Foster, with Evelyn Venable and Adrienne Ames as the women in his life and William Frawley as minstrel impresario E.P. Christy (the part played by Al Jolson in Swanee River). The film follows Foster from his early attempts to study for the ministry to his first flush of success in the years just prior to the Civil War, ending with his death in drunken poverty in New York. Just what was it that so attracted Hollywood to this melancholy tale? Perhaps it was the fact that Stephen Foster's songs were in the Public Domain, thereby allowing producers to sidestep expensive copyright and licensing fees. Harmony Lane was written and directed by Joseph Santley, a prolific if uninspired helmsman of early-talkie musicals.

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Keywords

composer, songs, songwriter, alcoholism, ministry, poverty