1985's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the only filmed version of the Mark Twain classic to cover every episode in the original novel and not merely such familiar vignettes as the "King and the Duke" business. Presented in four parts, Finn opens in 1844, with young Huck (Patrick Day) being kidnapped from the home of the Widow Douglas (Sada Thompson) by his brutal, drink-sodden Pap (Frederic Forest). Huck escapes by faking his own death and rafting down the river in the company of escaped slave Jim (Samm-Art Williams). Part two offers the seldom-dramatized scene in the novel wherein an abolitionist is lynched; part three recounts the Shepardson/Grangerford feud; and part four culminates with the chicanery of the King (Barnard Hughes) and the Duke (Jim Dale) and the capture of Jim. Featured in the huge cast are Lillian Gish, Geraldine Page, Butterfly McQueen, Richard Kiley, and Eugene Oakes as Tom Sawyer. Originally clocking in at 240 minutes, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was first telecast in February and March of 1986 on PBS' American Playhouse; it is currently available in a 105-minute videocassette version.
by Hal Erickson synopsis