1885 ILLUSTRATION
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Huck Finn on Film

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  The first film version of Huck Finn appeared in 1920. Directed by William Desmond Taylor, it featured Lewis Sargent (Huck), George Reed (Jim), Gordon Griffith (Tom), Martha Mattox (Miss Watson), Katherine Griffith (Widow Douglass), L. M. Wells (Judge Thatcher), Frank Lanning (Pap), Orral Humphrey (The Duke), Tom Bates (The King) and Eunice Murdock (Aunt Sally).

  Like most silent movies, this one no longer survives. At the end of his 1930 Colophon essay on "ILLUSTRATING HUCKLEBERRY FINN", E. W. Kemble says that in making the film, Taylor "took a copy of the original edition and made his characters fit my drawings." The two sets of still photos below, from a 1920 magazine feature promoting the film and a 1923 British edition of the novel that used images from the film as illustrations, seem to confirm Kemble's claim.

  "I had not seen the book in years," Kemble also notes. It had been over two decades since an edition using his original 1885 illustrations had been published, so for him it was a source of pleasure to go to the movie and watch "my characters appear on the screen, resembling my types so faithfully, even as to pose." For us, the way the movie extended the cultural life of Kemble's re-presentations to a new generation as well as into a new medium is a striking reminder of how well his "types," which is to say his stereotypes, fit the popular conception of MT's "characters."

Images Courtesy Dave Thomson

Images from The Designer magazine article, "'Huckleberry Finn' Goes Into the Movies" (January 1920)
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Images from Eveleigh Nash and Grayson edition of Huck Finn (London 1923)
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