AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Hearts in Dixie
Director: Paul Sloane (Dir)
Release Date:   10 Mar 1929
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 26 Feb 1929; Los Angeles opening: 6 Mar 1929
Duration (in mins):   71
Duration (in feet):   6,444
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Clarence Muse (Nappus)  
    Eugene Jackson (Chiquapin)  
    Stepin Fetchit (Gummy)  
    Bernice Pilot (Chloe)  
    Clifford Ingram (Rammey)  
    Mildred Washington (Trailia)  
    Zack Williams (Deacon)  
    Gertrude Howard (Emmy)  
    Dorothy Morrison (Melia)  
    Vivian Smith (Violet)  
    Robert Brooks (True Love)  
    A. C. H. Billbrew (Voodoo woman)  
    Richard Carlyle (White doctor)  
    Bilbrew Chorus    

Summary: Nappus, an old black man who works a farm, despite his advanced years, has a daughter named Chloe who is married to Gummy, a shiftless young man who does nothing but sun himself while Chloe does both the housework and the manual labor. Gummy and Chloe have two children, Chiquapin and Trailia. Chloe and Trailia are taken ill, and instead of sending for the white doctor, Gummy sends for the voodoo woman. Both mother and daughter die, and Nappus sells his farm and his mule to raise enough money to send Chiquapin north to become a doctor, hoping that the boy will someday return south to help his people. 

Production Company: Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Paul Sloane (Dir)
  A. H. Van Buren (Addl dir)
Producer: William Fox (Pres)
Writer: Walter Weems (Scen, story and dial)
Photography: Glen MacWilliams (Dir of photog)
Film Editor: Alexander Troffey (Film ed)
Sound: Arthur L. von Kirbach (Sd)
Dance: Fanchon & Marco (Choreog)
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "Hearts in Dixie," music and lyrics by Walter Weems and Howard Jackson; Deep River" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," music and lyrics by Henry Thacker Burleigh; "Old Folks at Home," music and lyrics by Stephen Foster; and other songs.
Composer: Henry Thacker Burleigh
  Stephen Foster
  Howard Jackson
  Walter Weems
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Fox Film Corp. 16/3/1929 dd/mm/yyyy LP234

Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Comedy-drama
Sub-Genre: African American
  with songs
Subjects (Major): Children
  African Americans
  United States--South

Note: According to news items, Charles Gilpin originally was cast in the role of "Nappus." George Reed was next mentioned for the role, which eventually was given to Clarence Muse. According to a Chicago Tribune article on 9 Dec 1928, the cotton field scenes of the film were shot on location near Bakersfield, CA. An ad in The San Jose News on 21 Feb 1929 listed the following additional song titles among the "25 songs you'll love" in the picture: "Lil' Liza Jane" and "All Over Heaven."
       Hearts in Dixie was the first African-American feature film produced by a major studio, as well as being the first African-American musical. Ads for the film boasted that it was "The screen's first singing, dancing and talking comedy of the Southland, with two hundred entertainers from the levees and cotton fields." As noted in the Chicago Tribune article, the picture was the first of several films then being made in Hollywood that featured all, or primarily, African-American casts. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
California Eagle   14 Dec 1928.   
California Eagle   21 Dec 1928.   
ChiDef   16 Mar 1929   pt. I, p. 6.
Chicago Tribune   9 Dec 1928   p. 17.
Christian Science Monitor   5 Mar 1929   p. 7.
Film Daily   3 Mar 1929.   
New York Times   28 Feb 1929   p. 30.
New York Times   10 Mar 1929.   
Reading Eagle   9 Jun 1929   p. 12.
San Jose News   21 Feb 1929   p. 6.
Variety   6 Mar 1929   p. 15.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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