Before the steamboat race, one of the boats used in the filming began to sink. The crew frantically tried to bail, but water was coming in as fast as they could bail it out. The fire department was called, and set their pumps to work until 1 AM, to no avail; the water was still rushing in. Director Francis Martin called the man who built the boat, who stated that it could not spring a leak. Martin ordered the man to come down to the set and see for himself. Seeing the boat list to one side, the builder repeated that it could not spring a leak. The following conversation is reported to have taken place, at that point: Francis Martin: "All I know is we've been pumping water out of her hold for nine hours and it comes in as fast as we pump it out." Builder: "She ain't got a hold." Francis Martin: "I don't care what the technical term is, all I know is we've been pumping water out of her interior for nine hours." Builder: "She ain't got an interior any more than a raft. She's flat on the bottom, sitting on drums. You've got all that heavy stuff on one side and that's what makes it lean over. You've been bailing Malibu Lake into Malibu Lake for nine hours."
W.C. Fields wrote nearly all of his own dialogue to this film as well as several entire sequences in which he appeared, despite frequent objections from the director. After the success of this film, an exhibitor at Paramount announced that the comedian would be permitted full creative control to his following productions.