19 user 6 critic

Weary River (1929)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 10 February 1929 (USA)
A gangster is put in prison, but finds salvation through music while serving his time. Again on the outside, he finds success elusive and temptations abound.


Frank Lloyd


Courtney Ryley Cooper (story by) (as Courtney Riley Cooper), Bradley King | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Richard Barthelmess ... Jerry Larrabee
Betty Compson ... Alice
William Holden William Holden ... Warden
Louis Natheaux ... Spadoni
George E. Stone ... Blackie (as George Stone)
Ray Turner ... Elevator Boy (as Raymond Turner)
Gladden James ... Manager


Jerry Larabee (Richard Barthelmess)is a gangster who can play piano and sing, mostly to entertain his girl Alice (Betty Compson), who is quite visibly thrilled by his crooning. But as the result of a gangland shootout he had with rival mobster Spadoni (Louis Natheaux), Larabee must do a stretch in prison. The kindly warden (William Holden) sees a potential for redemption in him, and talks Mary into giving him up, so he will break all contact with his previous life. Through his musical talents, Jerry is soon doing radio broadcasts with the prison orchestra, and one of his own compositions, "Weary River" is a smash hit with listeners. In no time, he's released, with a concert tour lined up. unfortunately, hecklers cause the overly sensitive ex-gunman to lose his confidence and he's a flop. Down on his luck, he drifts back to his old gang buddies and Mary, who's never stopped loving him. After learning that his stint up the river was a frame-up by Spadoni, a showdown is arranged at their... Written by WesternOne

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Two passion-wrapped souls living, loving-then a song bringing new life-new love! (Print Ad- Philadelphia Inquirer, ((Philadelphia, Penna.)) 3 May 1929) See more »


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


When it came time for Richard Barthelmess to sing the title song (not once but four times in the course of the film), the Vitaphone technicians performed a bit of audio-visual sleight-of-hand. While Barthelmess moves his lips, the voice we hear is that of Johnny Murray. A Photoplay article of July 1929 reported that Murray had also been retained to provide Barthelmess' voice in the future, in the event that he starred in any other musicals. However, in this film, Barthelmess does indeed sing a few bars of Frankie & Johnnie on his own, most pleasantly and naturally, to Betty Compson, before she interrupts him, claiming she didn't ask him for 'Grand Opera.' See more »


When Barthelmess is brought in to the prison bathroom, there is already an inmate having a bath, who has disappeared before the scene is over. See more »


Alice Gray: What a sap I've been. Just a 14-carat sap. And you! You're just a phony! That's what you are. You're just a yellow phony!
See more »

Alternate Versions

First National also released this film in a silent version. See more »


Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here
(1917) (uncredited)
Music by Theodore Morse and Arthur Sullivan
In the score when Jerry meets his pals in a bar
See more »

User Reviews

A little old fashioned but nice...sort of like my wife when I first met her!
7 March 2017 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

"Weary River" is what you might call a transitional style movie from Warner Brothers/Vitaphone. While it's not truly a full talking picture since much of it is silent and uses intertitles, some of it is sound--a bit of the dialog and the songs. This is exactly what they did previously with "The Jazz Singer" and by 1929, they'd finally be making all sound pictures. So, many of the films from the studio in 1928 would be like this...providing enough sound to please the masses...for now.

Jerry (Richard Barthelmess) is a gangster, though he dresses nice and doesn't look or sound like one. His life of crime eventually catches up to him and he's sent to prison. The warden of the place is an odd one--very progressive for the time and dedicated to fixing the cons who can be fixed. As for Jerry, he's initially dubious but soon finds a niche leading the prison's orchestra and writing music. He's so successful that he eventually becomes a radio sensation and one of his songs is a hit. Soon, he's released from prison. However, there's a strong pull from his old life--and when he finds out who set him up, he's mad enough to kill. What's next? And, how does the old warden enter the picture?

This film suffers a bit here and there because the movie is a tad overly melodramatic. And, the story wraps up too quickly and easily. Still, for the time, it's a very good picture and worth your time.

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Release Date:

10 February 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Weary River See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System) (Western Electric Apparatus) (sound effects, music and talking sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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