Uncle Tom's Cabin

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D. W. Griffith had originally been announced as the director of the Universal "super-production" version of Uncle Tom's Cabin, but negotiations fell through and the job went to studio workhorse Harry A. Pollard. Running 141 minutes, this was the most elaborate filmization of the Harriet Beecher Stowe "abolition" classic to date, and even though it wasn't entirely faithful to its source, audiences went home satisfied. James B. Lowe stars as bloody but unbowed slave Uncle Tom (a role traditionally assigned to a white man in blackface!), while George Siegmann, drooling tobacco juice and brandishing a whip with furious abandon, is Evil Personified as Simon Legree. Other familiar roles were filled by Margarita Fischer (a somewhat long-in-tooth Eliza), Virginia Grey (Eva), Mona Ray (Topsy) and Lucien Littlefield (Lawyer Marks) The film owes more to the theatrical versions of Uncle Tom's Cabin than the novel, including the escape of Eliza across the ice, an incident that was invented for the stage. Budgeted at one million dollars, Uncle Tom's Cabin had to be released several times in the 1930s to break even. Excerpts from the film later showed up in the opening scenes of 1955's Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops.

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