Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Mickey Rooney may have been born to play Mark Twain's legendary hellraiser Huck Finn, but 1939's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is so MGM-ized that Rooney seems to be sedated. Otherwise, this is a slick retelling of the Twain classic, with Huck escaping both the oppressive kindliness of the widow Douglas (Elizabeth Risdon) and the brutality of his drink-sodden Pap (Victor Kilian) by faking his own death. He heads down the Mississippi River in the company of fugitive slave Jim (Rex Ingram), who hopes to be reunited with his wife and child. Along the way, they get mixed up in the larcenous schemes of the "King" (Walter Connolly) and the "Duke" (William Frawley.) When Jim stops in his flight to save Huck's life after the latter is bitten by a rattler, the slave is captured and sentenced to be hanged for the "murder" of the still-missing Huck. The boy returns the favor by revealing that he's still alive (completely bypassing the hilarious episode in the book wherein Huck and Tom Sawyer--who has been written out of this filmization--map an elaborate jail breakout scheme). The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is most familiar to baby-boomers via the 30-minute abridged version made available for school showings in the 1960s.
lessons, runaway [from home], Americana, friendship, on-the-road, slavery, con/scam, on-the-run, death-penalty, false-accusation, inheritance, law, captive, captor, escape, generation-gap, hen-pecked, husband, kidnapping, marriage, orphan, reward