If you like to watch old movies devoid of acclaimed actors, directors and studios and judge for yourself if it is a good movie, avoid this one. I watched it solely to see old depictions of Mississippi riverboat people, both blacks and whites, but these were hardly the most offensive.
Louise Beevers as Opal, the maid (of course), had minimal decent dialogue as a woman and a person, and Gloria Jetters as Azella, a small black child, delivered more than would have been expected from a child back then who wasn't Shirley Temple or Natalie Wood. There is even an enjoyable spiritual sung by the fiery black reverend (even tho the character is named in the film, the actor goes uncredited) on the docks with other black singers. Delightful to see as black portrayals can get extremely rare in most films and historically compelling as well. More offensive were the mobsters (tired cliches from Lyle Talbot) and the French songstress, Yvette, played by Fifi Dorsay, who comes across like she is every man's desire.
But the clinchers are the two uncredited Native American indians, no doubt really Anglo performers of some kind, who say virtually nothing and this was probably to their advantage, being deprived of any 'ugh' and 'how' phrases. The characters are named Double and Nothing (introduced as "Double or Nothing") and play the drums to the fledgling trumpeter played by Eddie Quillan. In one scene they are being released from jail and one of the Natives hands the officer a message that reads 'Merci Bien'. The officer quips that it must be in Indian as he apparently cannot read it. Ba-dum-bump!
Frances Langford was the only performer I was really familiar with, so I expected this to be a vehicle for her. In fact it seems to be a launching pad for Quillan, totally uninteresting as trumpet player Jeff Calhoun. He is supposed to get 'the tickle', the inspiration to play mesmerizing, captivating music at such times. Quillan is almost frightening at these moments as he raises his eyebrows, bulges his eyes and tosses his big dark eyes back and forth. Not an inviting portrayal and Harry James had nothing to worry about.
Thankfully it is only an hour and a half long. Still not worth the time. The 'plot' involved the gangsters thinking the miracle elixir sold on the riverboat was a whiskey running operation and Langford acting jealous of Dorsay and Quillan constantly apologizing for playing at inopportune times on his trumpet. Comedy relief characters like the Professor played by Charles Butterworth and the ditzy Captain's wife played by Elmira Sessions get on my nerves more than racial or ethnic characters.
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