Great Performances

Life on the Mississippi (24 Nov. 1980)

TV Episode  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 52 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 1 critic

Most mid-19th-century Mississippi River boys dreamed of occupying that pinnacle of power and glamour, the pilot house of a riverboat. In a riot of local color, this film tells how, unlike ... See full summary »



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Title: Life on the Mississippi (24 Nov 1980)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
David Knell ...
Mr. Ealer
Donald Madden ...
Mr. Brown
George Richie
Bill Holliday ...
Mr. Thornburg
Luke Reilly ...
Marcy Walker ...
Don Brady ...
Mr. Leathers
Jack Lawrence ...
'Paul Jones' Captain
John Kirk ...
Mate on 'Paul Jones'
Bill Atwood ...
Watchman on 'Paul Jones'
Thom Thomas ...
Clerk on 'Paul Jones'
Jim Babrowski ...
Douglas Wells ...
Mr. Grogan


Most mid-19th-century Mississippi River boys dreamed of occupying that pinnacle of power and glamour, the pilot house of a riverboat. In a riot of local color, this film tells how, unlike many, Sam's dream comes true. A callow teenager, he talks the tough but consummate Horace Bixby into making him his apprentice on the "Paul Jones," eventually following him to the much finer "Aleck Scott." Meanwhile, he is already spinning fantastic yarns to everyone from awe-struck lads ashore, to fellow "cub pilots", to young lady passengers who catch his eye. Things temporarily take a turn for the worse when Bixby must attend a meeting and leave Sam to work under Brown, a dour tyrant with a grudge against him. Written by Paul Emmons <>

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Release Date:

24 November 1980 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The pleasure steamboat Julia Belle Swain of Peoria, Illinois was refitted to look like an 1850s riverboat to appear in the film. See more »


Bixby: When I was a boy, my comrades and I had one permanent ambition - to be a steamboat man. Boy after boy managed to get on the river. By and by I ran away too. Said I could never come home until I was a pilot and come home in glory. I tell you, I love this profession. I take a measureless pride in it. The pilot on a steamboat is the only unfettered, entirely independent human being to walk the face of the earth. She cuts her own course, too, the river. There's a glory to her. She'll take a man any...
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User Reviews

14 February 2002 | by See all my reviews

Charming little movie about great dreams and hopes of a young man.

Watch it for Marcy Walker's first performance as a VERY innocent young lady, Emmelie DeBeverly, and prepare to laugh about everything she says. If you know her as Eden Capwell on SANTA BARBARA you will probably be VERY surprised.

Nice landscape, with a slow-written story perhaps, but all in all a charming TV movie of 1982.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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