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Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

Not Rated | | Action, Comedy, Drama | 20 May 1928 (USA)
The effete son of a cantankerous riverboat captain comes to join his father's crew.


(as Chas. F. Reisner), (uncredited)



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Complete credited cast:
Tom Lewis ...
Marion Byron ...


Following through on a promise to his mother, William Canning Jr. goes to River Junction to meet his father who has not seen him since he was a child. The younger Canning isn't quite what the elder was expecting but the old man has bigger problems. He's being put out of business by J.J. King, who not only owns the local hotel and bank, but has recently introduced a new paddle wheel steamer that puts Cannings older boat, the Stonewall Jackson, to shame. Bill Jr. and Kitty King take a liking to each other much to the dismay of both of their fathers. When a fierce storm hits River Junction, Bill Jr. is forced to save Kitty, her father and his father. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

river | storm | captain | rescue | steamer | See All (62) »


Hold on everybody. It's a Hurricane of Laughs! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 May 1928 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El héroe del río  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »


Just before the house facade falls on Keaton, a stagehand can be seen through the first floor window giving it an extra push. See more »


William Canfield Jr.: That must have happened when the dough fell in the tool chest.
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Featured in So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton & MGM (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

silent comedy gold! an excellent choice for a first Keaton to see
27 June 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Call shenanigans on me as a movie-buff, but I've never fully completed watching a Buster Keaton film (I've seen most of the General, but not enough to give a fair estimate). What luck then to find Steamboat Bill Jr in a 1 dollar bin, because Keaton does indeed live up to the hype! Although it's still on my mind to say that Chaplin is the genius of silent comedy, Keaton's wit in the staging of purely physical gags and even in the wording of the title cards is top-notch and is a standard to live up to for comedians today. It's got some things that are almost textbook in the realm of slapstick (he's standing right under a house about to fall on him, thank goodness for the window space!), but it's also very original in some other ways, if only in little details. I loved seeing the jail-house scene, where on sees the mood totally laid out- suspense in the guise of mishaps involving a huge loaf of bread loaded with tools to get Bill's father out of jail. The twists that happen involving the jailman, and the escape, are worth checking out the film alone.

Other little gags speak to how well Keaton could work gags big and small, be it riding a flying tree (!) to the water, or just trying to set up a plank to go to Stonewall Jackson's ship. There's even a sequence that I would show immediately to those wanting to get a sense of Keaton at his best, which actually involves as much reaction from those around him as Keaton himself, with the trying-on-the-hats sequence, where one is too small, or too big, or just too goofy. It almost goes way too over the top in the climax (how many things in town can Bill Jr go around in a tailspin, including winding up on what looks like a film set, ha!), but why carp? It's an exemplary form of showing a level of sophistication in doing dumb things, which includes sincerely dumb dialog ("Hey, my son's coming to visit, I haven't seen him since he was a baby" "I bet he's a grown lad now"). I'm sure the General will stay a Keaton classic for decades to come, but as far as purely accessible comedy on all levels Steamboat Bill Jr is hard to beat from the era.

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