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The Vanishing Virginian (1942)

Passed | | Biography, Comedy, Drama | February 1942 (USA)
Biography of Robert Yancey, long-term district attorney in Lynchburg, Virginia.


Frank Borzage


Jan Fortune (screenplay), Rebecca Yancey Williams (based on the book by)


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Complete credited cast:
Frank Morgan ... Robert Yancey
Kathryn Grayson ... Rebecca Yancey
Spring Byington ... Rosa Yancey
Natalie Thompson Natalie Thompson ... Margaret Yancey
Johnny Mitchell ... Jim Shirley (as Douglass Newland)
Mark Daniels ... Jack Holden
Elizabeth Patterson ... Grandma
Juanita Quigley ... Caroline Yancey
Scotty Beckett ... Joel Yancey
Dickie Jones ... Robert Yancey Jr.
Leigh Whipper Leigh Whipper ... Uncle Josh
Louise Beavers ... Aunt Emmeline
J.M. Kerrigan ... John Phelps
Harlan Briggs ... Mr. Rogard
Katharine Alexander ... Marcia Marshall


Biography of Robert Yancey, long-term district attorney in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Heart-Throbs, Laughs, Thrills in an American Masterpiece!


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

February 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mr. Yancey of Virginia See more »


Box Office


$499,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Jack's car is a 1910 Stanley model 71 Touring. See more »


Referenced in Fingers at the Window (1942) See more »


Sobre las Olas (Over the Waves)
(1887) (uncredited)
Written by Juventino Rosas
Played in part on piano by Natalie Thompson
See more »

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User Reviews

A wonderful, nostalgic time....for some.
1 April 2015 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

The summary on IMDb for this one is perhaps the worst I have ever seen. It really does NOT describe the film at all and looks as if whoever wrote it never even saw this film! So, let me summarize the film....a bit.

This is a highly nostalgic film about the good 'ol days. In particular, it focuses on the upper-middle class family, the Yancey's who live in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1913. Mr. Yancey (Frank Morgan) is the city prosecutor--a well respected lawyer who folks want to see run for his seventh term. His wife is the ever-faithful Rosa (Spring Byington) and they have five kids--including two girls of very marriageable age. Rebecca Yancey (Kathryn Grayson) is smitten with a new lawyer who has come to town--but Mrs. Yancey is concerned because the young man's mother is 'no good' because she is a divorcée and once dated Mr. Yancey. In addition to the Yanceys, the household consists of two black servants and two of the servants' grandkids. As for the story, it is a series of vignettes that give us a glimpse of these decent people.

So is this film any good? Well, this is a very, very difficult thing to answer in just a few words. For its time, it is exquisitely crafted and has all the sentimentality (and then some) you'd expect from an MGM production. Some may balk at Ms. Grayson's singing--you'll either love it or you'll hate it (I am in the latter group and felt it was often unnecessary). However, the reason I cannot say it's a wonderful film is that in some ways it's a very racist film. All the black people are exceptionally well treated and seem to enjoy their subservient roles in society. And everyone (blacks and whites) get along so gosh-darn well--something that might have been true, at least superficially. However, the lynchings, name-calling and other aspects of Southern Virginia society are of course absent, as they didn't fit into this perfect image that Louis B. Mayer insisted in with his films. It's lovely...but also rather overly idealized.

By the way, one of the more interesting actresses in the film is Elizabeth Patterson who plays Mr. Yancey's mother. Only a few years later, Patterson starred in probably the best film on race done during the 1940s, "Intruder in the Dust". Unlike "The Vanishing Virginian", this film exposed the ugly side of Southern society--the racist, evil side bent on lynching a black man simply because they can. And, Patterson's character is one of the only ones in town willing to stand up to these thugs. See this film...skip "The Vanishing Virginian".

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