Thursday, April 7, 2016

Steamboat Round the Bend (1935)

Director: John Ford

Writers: Dudley Nichols, Lamar Trotti, Ben Lucien Burman

Composer: Samuel Kaylin

Starring: Will Rogers, Anne Shirley, Irving S. Cobb, Eugene Pallette, John McGuire, Berton Churchill, Francis Ford, Roger Imhof, Rymond Hatton, Hobardt Bosworth, Stepin Fetchit, Charles Middleton

More info: IMDb

Plot:  A Louisiana con man enters his steamboat into a winner-take-all race with a rival while trying to find a witness to free his nephew, about to be hung for murder.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Hmmmm.  It starts out like it's a comedy and then it takes a sudden turn for the deadly serious early on when John's (Rogers) nephew, Duke (McGuire), shows up with his swamp gal, Fleety Belle (Shirley), to tell him he's killed a man in self defense.  It's a serious as a heart attack from that moment for another half hour without nary an attempt at humor.  It was a sure fire head scratcher.  Alright, enough of the Southern lingo.  This picture gets dire with Duke sentenced to hang and then there's the big steamboat race in the last act that lightens things up a little.   Naturally it all ends well.  John wins the race and Duke doesn't hang.  I've seen tons of movies from this era and it's not often that something jars me like this but seeing Stepin Fetchit do his "oh, lawdy, massa steamboat cap'n" stereotype is painful to watch.  Rogers died in a plane crash shortly after this film.  This was one of 5 pictures he released that year.  It's not much of a comedy but if you like Rogers (or Fetchit) then it's a curiosity but not much else.  And considering John Ford directed it...I don't see the greatness. 

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