Aboard the freighter Glencairn, the lives of the crew are lived out in fear, loneliness, suspicion and cameraderie. The men smuggle drink and women aboard, fight with each other, spy on ... See full summary »
Dr. John Pearly is an affable, turn-of-the-century con man who sells a patent medicine whose primary ingredient is whiskey. He resurrects a broken down steamboat with a makeshift crew and challenges the respectable but arrogant Captain Eli to a winner-take-all river race. Pearly hopes his nephew Duke will serve as pilot, but the young man stands accused of murdering a 'swamp rat' who threatened the honor of 'swamp girl' Fleety Belle. After Duke is arrested, Pearly tries to raise money for a lawyer by charging admission to a wax museum aboard his ship. Ultimately he gambles it all in the river race to Baton Rouge, where he hopes to find a witness whose testimony will free Duke. Written by
The film was released shortly after Will Rogers' death on 15 August 1935 from an airplane crash near Point Barrow, Alaska. Originally, the ending of the film had him waving goodbye to the character played by Irvin S. Cobb, but the ending was changed to avoid the audience thinking he was saying goodbye to them, which may have caused them to leave the theater in tears. The review which appeared in Variety 25 September 1935 indicated the film had been "announced" as 102 minutes, but had been considerably shortened, which no doubt accounts for some problems in continuity and the abrupt ending. See more »
Quite enjoyable and one of your last chances to see Willl Rogers...
This film debuted just after Will Rogers was tragically killed in a plane crash. Because of this, "Steamboat Round The Bend" is one of the last chances anyone had to see him in film. While it's not among his best films, it's pretty good and well worth seeing.
Rogers plays a 'snake oil' salesman (a guy who sells fake cure-all medicines) has been saving for some time to buy a dilapidated old steamboat. His plan is to run it with his nephew, Duke. However, when Duke arrives, he tells his Uncle that he's just killed a man in self-defense and has brought a woman from the swamps with him. Uncharacteristically, Rogers' character is nasty and voices a strong prejudice against swamp people (no, not the comic book character but people who live in the swamplands). Considering what a nice guy he was in his other films AND his famous quote ("I never met a man I didn't like"), this prejudiced attitude DID seem pretty strange--as did his playing a bit of a swindler.
Fortunately, his character DID improve as the film progressed. Later, instead of hating this girl (Anne Shirley), he felt sorry for her and cared for her when her beloved was jailed for this killing. However, what is Rogers to do--as the Nephew is due to be hung AND he's made a bet to beat a rival captain in the big race? tune in and see for yourself in this gentle slice of Americana.
As I said above, Rogers' character wasn't nearly as sweet as he'd been in other movies. But he was likable enough AND the rest of the cast did a good job--as too often in the past the film was all on Rogers' shoulders--here it's a nice ensemble cast. Berton Churchill (in the weirdest role of his career), Eugene Palette and Steppin Fetchit are on hand to provide some nice support--and Fetchit's a little easier to take as his horrible stereotypical act isn't as obvious and offensive as usual. Overall, well worth seeing.
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