The Man Without a Country (1937)

The Man Without a Country (1937)

Run time: Approved | 21 min | Drama, Short | 27 November 1937 (USA)
Rating: 5.7
Director: Crane Wilbur
Writers: Forrest Barnes, Edward Everett Hale
Stars: John Litel, Gloria Holden, Ted Osborne
Based on a story by Edward Everett Hale and set in the early 19th Century in the United States. A young US Army lieutenant is tried for treason because of his friendship with the politician Aaron Burr. He angrily denounces the United States, is sentenced to lifelong exile on board a series of US Navy ships, and is never allowed to set foot on shore again. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Colour).

4 responses to “The Man Without a Country (1937)”

  1. tfsadmin says:

    This short, nominated for an Oscar, is reasonably good, but quite loose and more than a bit fanciful in its treatment of the source material. Ironically, the changes make the short weaker and LESS memorable than the original novella by Edward Everett Hale. By all means, catch the short if possible, but the orignal is far more interesting and satisfying. Turner Classic Movies runs this as filler between films on ocasion and has done so in March the last several years in its 31 Days of Oscar feature. Well worth watching.

  2. tfsadmin says:

    Edward Everett Hale's classic short story, The Man Without A Country has been done as a feature film on the big and small screen a few times. There was even a classic radio play that was narrated by Bing Crosby where Frank Lovejoy played Nolan that sold a few platters back in the day. But this 1937 adaption covers all the salient points in the story.

    I've always found it ironic that the guy who was putting this whole western conspiracy together in the first decade of the 19th century, Aaron Burr, was never convicted of anything, but that this fictional small fry Philip Nolan got such a sentence. It wasn't however for any vague plot against the USA because Aaron Burr's very vagueness of purpose kept him from conviction. Nolan was arrested for desertion and his guilt was pretty clear about that.

    John Litel as Nolan dreams of glory, riches, and adventure in winning his bride Gloria Holden. When he's reminded of his duty at the court martial, he utters the words that seal his fate about, 'damn the United States, I wish I may never hear of her again. As Hale says in the story the men who convicted and determined this sentence of exile for Nolan were those who had fought in the Revolution and such talk was an abomination to them.

    Nolan is sentenced to be placed aboard a Navy vessel where he's to live for the rest of his natural life without hearing a mention of the United States of America again. He lives under that burden up until the Civil War.

    Holden is showed begging for clemency from two presidents. James Monroe who was a Revolutionary veteran and survivor of Valley Forge and Andrew Jackson, a significant military figure in his own right from the next generation. Finally she wins a hearing from a president known for pardoning people, Abraham Lincoln.

    The ending is changed and quite frankly ripped off from Maytime. Still Litel and Holden make a fine pair of lovers eternal and The Man Without A Country is a stirring story, brought to us in a stirring adaption as a Warner Brothers short subject.

  3. tfsadmin says:

    I was 9 or 10 years old when I first saw this in 1937, It was part of a double feature including a cartoon, newsreel, coming attractions, this 21 minute short & 2 movies.

    A perfect afternoon for children

    Historically this true story is wanting, the short novel by Edward Everett Hale, was more interesting.

    John Litel a character actor for many years after: was the lead & he was very good. Later on he excelled at play9ng Fathers & School Principals, He was a skilled actor & a first rate gentlemen.

    Warner Bros. & other studios made many short subjects, this was one of the better ones.

    They still make shorts, but they only play at special festivals in major cities, This is really a shame.

    Can you imagine, telling a whole story in 21 minutes including some action, War of 1812 battle scene. They did it then. As I said I was only 9 yrs old. This is primarily for children & that was the intention of the frere's Warner

    I do not rate short short subjects,. Let my IMDb 7 be your guide. TCM does show this in on Occasion, Have your inquisitive children hunt for it. It was filmed in gorgeous 3-strip Technicolour.

  4. tfsadmin says:

    True story of a man who harbors traitorous feelings towards his country, this one being the USA, and suffering mightily for it down the road. Great pacing makes this go by really fast and by the time it is over, you wish that it was longer. Good acting from the entire cast–and also a treat to see a short subject in color!! Also a thrill to figure out who all the uncredited actors and actresses are–as they have been in countless films as supporting characters to the main actors. Very enjoyable through and through!!

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