Steamboats in the Movies, Page 7
In 1931 Universal Studios filmed an adaptation of Ben Lucien Burman's novel MISSISSIPPI, the movie was entitled HEAVEN ON EARTH.
Another of Burman's river novels, our "favorite" - STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND would be filmed under its original title in 1935.
HEAVEN ON EARTH was also filmed on the Sacramento River as was STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND.
As you can see from this photo of Lew Ayres as "States" and Anita Louise as "Towhead" this was taken in an actual pilot house, not a set as were the pilot houses interiors in STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND which were filmed on a sound stage with footage of the river rear projected on a screen behind the windows of the pilot house set.
Here in HEAVEN ON EARTH you can see a ladder, a smokestack and other steamboat hardware through the rear windows. All the details inside also give this location a historical realism with the "well used" look you expect these old boats to have after working on the river for a span of years. I also have a couple of the stylized floating "shanty boat" sets from this movie which I can scan and send.
Universal recycled the action footage from HEAVEN ON EARTH in a 13 episode "cliff hanger" serial called MYSTERY OF THE RIVERBOAT in 1944.
The most memorable action scene in HEAVEN ON EARTH is one of a steamboat deliberately plowing through the side of a shanty boat, cutting it in half.
Impressive Version of "Mississippi"
By MORDAUNT HALL
New York Times
December 19, 1931
At the Paramount is a worthy and earnest pictorial version of Ben Lucien Burman's novel, "Mississippi," which is known on the screen as "Heaven on Earth."
It is concerned with the poor whites of the lower Mississippi, who believe in spirits, sing their dirges and dwell on floating shanties.
This film, which was directed by Russell Mack, is imbued with an impressive atmosphere, which is heightened by the sincerity of the portrayals of all concerned, especially Lew Ayres, Anita Louise, Harry Beresford and Elizabeth Patterson.
It is a lethargic tale, for the most part, but one that reflects the mood of the people.
There are the shootings, the desire for vengeance, the sudden hatreds and the weird superstitions.
When criticizing the action in a scene, one is apt to reflect that the nature of the people has to be taken into consideration.
They have little imagination, except so far as their spirits are concerned, and one old woman says that the spirits are more accessible in the country than they are up by the court house, which means town to her.
They are uncouth, ragged, and when Towhead, the girl played by Anita Louise, falls in love with States (Mr. Ayres), she begs for help from the spirits.
As for States, he believes himself to be the son of Captain Lilly, of a Mississippi steamboat.
He shoots and wounds Chicken Sam, who then tells him that Captain Lilly killed his (State's) father and adopted him.
Armed with further proof, States forces an admission from Lilly, and the boy, who had been working on the steamboat, leaves his job and joins the folk on the floating shanty town.
The old Captain one day steers his boat for States's ramshackle home and smashes it.
There ensue other troubles, including a challenge to a duel to the Captain from States.
But the Captain, in the end, makes amends and Towhead and States leave the screen as happy as they can be under the circumstances.
HEAVEN ON EARTH, based on Ben Lucien Burman's novel "Mississippi"; directed by Russell Mack: a Universal Production. At the Times Square Paramount and the Brooklyn Paramount.
States . . . . . Lew Ayres
Towhead . . . . . Anita Louise
Captain Lilly . . . . . Harry Beresford
Vergie . . . . . Elizabeth Patterson
Merchant . . . . . Slim Summerville
Butter Eye . . . . . Air P. James
Preacher Daniel . . . . . Harlan Knight
Dr. Boax . . . . . Jack Duffy
Chicken Sam . . . . . John Carradine
Marty . . . . . Robert Burns
Andy . . . . . Lew Kelly
Buffalo . . . . . Jules Cowles
Maggie . . . . . Louise Emmons
Voodoo Sue . . . . . Madame Sul-te-wan
Lew as "States" with the man he believed to be his father, Captain Lilly (Harry Beresford) who had killed States' real father (a shantyboatman) and adopted States.
The photo of States and the Captain fishing off the side of the distressed deck of the steamboat was apparently from the idyllic stage of their relationship before States found out who is real father was.
The photo of States and the Captain in the latter's office aboard the steamboat must have been taken after States found out the truth about his parentage and joined the shantyboat community that the Captain despises.
At some point the Captain plows his steamboat into States' shantyboat to destroy it. So this photo may have been taken after that atrocity (States is holding a revolver in his right hand).
Anita Louise as "Towhead," Lew Ayres as "States" and Beans the dog as "Shoe Fly." This is a companion piece for the photo of Ayres and Louise in the pilot house in Heaven on Earth 1931 based on the 1929 novel, Mississippi, by Ben Lucien Burman. Filmed on the Sacramento River 4 years previous to Steamboat Round the Bend.
The movie's art director had prop shantyboats built with exaggerated rusticity.
I haven't seen any photos of actual shantyboats that look like hovels in some areas of the rural South in the mountains and on the flood plains during the Depression.
Usually the shantyboats looked like long narrow frame cottages with conventional doors and windows with porches "fore and aft."
WARNER ARCHIVES JUST RELEASED ANNE SHIRLEY'S 1934 "ANNE OF GREEN GABLES" ON DVD.
I SAW THIS VERSION ON VHS TAPE YEARS AGO AND IT WAS GOOD.
FANS OF STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND 1935 WITH ANNE AS FLEETY BELLE WOULD ENJOY SEEING HER IN THE ROLE WHICH LED TO HER CHANGING HER "HOLLYWOOD" NAME FROM "DAWN O'DAY" TO "ANNE SHIRLEY" (HER CHARACTER'S NAME IN "GREEN GABLES"). SHE WAS BORN "DAWN EVELYEEN PARIS" IN NEW YORK CITY IN 1918. ATTACHED PHOTO OF HER WITH "MARILLA" AND "MATTHEW."
Anne Shirley . . .
O.P. Heggie . . .
Helen Westley . . .
THE 1985 CANADIAN TV MINI SERIES WITH MEGAN FOLLOWS IS EXCELLENT WITH THIS GREAT CAST:
Megan Follows . . .
Colleen Dewhurst . . .
Richard Farnsworth . . .
Anne of Green Gables (MOD)
Anne of Green Gables (MOD)
When a childless Canadian couple goes to an orphanage to adopt a boy to help work their farm, they are surprised to learn their new child is a girl--Anne of Green Gables.
Ships to U.S. only.
Genre: Drama, Family, Romance
Writers: Sam Mintz
Cast: Anne Shirley, Tom Brown, O.P. Heggie, Helen Westley, Sara Haden, Murray Kinnell, Gertrude Messinger, Charley Grapewin, Hilda Vaughn, June Preston
Anne of Green Gables (MOD)
She's talkative, imaginative, occasionally combative and regularly exhaustive, but redheaded orphan Anne Shirley works her way into the hearts of a Prince Edward Island farm couple - and she'll do the same with you. A year after its top-notch film of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, RKO scored another box-office hit with this equally admired version of Lucy Maud Montgomery's 1908 classic. Adopted by elder siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert (Helen Westley and O.P. Heggie), Anne isn't the able-bodied boy they requested from the orphanage, but they count their blessing anyway. Over time, she endears herself to one and all, particularly best friend Diana Barry (Gertrude Messenger) and romantic interest Gilbert Blythe (Tom Brown). Most moved by this experience was Anne Shirley, who changed her professional name from Dawn O'Day to that of her Anne of Green Gables title role, going on to renown as the Oscar®-nominated costar of Stella Dallas as well as leads in The Devil and Daniel Webster and Murder, My Sweet.
This photo shows a motion picture camera on the deck below the pilot house of the PORT OF STOCKTON on the Sacramento River. The PORT OF STOCKTON appears to have been decorated with "patriotic bunting" so this picture may have been taken during a Fourth of July event on the Sacramento River or the steamboat may have been used as a platform to film a scene in HEAVEN ON EARTH (1931) which was based on another Burman novel called MISSISSIPPI. In 1935 the PORT OF STOCKTON would be remodeled to play the PRIDE OF PADUCAH in John Ford's movie STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND starring Will Rogers.
Photo Courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
I GOT A COPY OF HEAVEN ON EARTH ON DVD A WHILE AGO, BUT IT'S SP MANY GENERATIONS REMOVED FROM THE ORIGINAL THAT IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO WATCH - MAYBE SOME DAY A QUALITY TRANSFER WILL BE MADE BY UNIVERSAL . . . I HOPE SO.
One of those "iconic" lines from a "Down South" song called "When It's Sleep Time Down South":
"Steamboats on the river a coming or a going"
This song originated from one of the rejected titles that had been proposed for a 1930 stage production called "Under A Virginia Moon," written by Georgia Haswell Fawcett.
Billed as "A character comedy of Southern life," one of the proposed titles "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" was rejected but actor Clarence Muse, who had a part in the play, asked if he could write a song for a scene after the director asked him to sing something as an underscore.
Muse liked the title they had rejected (which was a line of dialogue in the play), and decided to use that as the title of his song.
When Muse went home, he got together with the songwriting brothers Leon and Otis René, and they composed "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" that night. The play had just a short run, but the song got a great response.
In 1931, it was used in two films: SAFE IN HELL (sung by the film's star Nina Mae McKinney), and sung by Clarence Muse on the soundtrack under the opening titles for HEAVEN ON EARTH (based on Ben Lucien Burman's novel MISSISSIPPI).
Jazz artist Louis Armstrong's instrumental/vocal version became identified with him: youtube
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Written by Clarence Muse with Leon and Otis René
Armstrong's version of the lyrics to which he added some "scat"
between some of the lines that are not included in the transcript:
"Now the pale moon shining on the fields below
The folks are crooning soft and low
You needn't tell me boy because I know
When it's sleepy time down south
Yes, the soft winds blowing through the pinewood trees
The folks down there live a life of ease
When old mammy falls on her knees
When it's sleepy time down south
Yes, steamboats up the river comin' and going
Splashing the night away
Hear those banjos ringing, and the folks are singing
And they dance 'til the break of day, hey
Dear old Southland with it's dreamy songs
Takes me back there where I belong
How I'd love to be in mammy's arms
When it's sleepy time way down south
Good evening everybody!
OPERATIC ADAPTATION OF "LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA" BY GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ THAT WE HAVE FRAMES FROM THE MOTION PICTURE VERSION IN STEAMBOATS IN THE MOVIE. STYLIZED SET OF THE STEAMBOAT IS SEEN IN THE 4 PHOTOS FROM TODAY'S L.A. TIMES.
LINK TO VIDEO BELOW SHOWS THE BOAT SET ON A TURNTABLE WITH SEVERAL SCENES OF SINGERS BELTING OUT ARIAS.
Washington National Opera presents: Florencia in the Amazon
Published on Sep 21, 2014
FLORENCIA IN THE AMAZON
'Florencia en el Amazonas' a culture clash solved by orchestra
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Opera is not standing still. It's growing, uncontrollably, by leaps and messy bounds latimes.com
Novelist Gabriel García Márquez's magic realism inspired the story; Puccini inspired the vocal lines As the first opera by a Mexican composer and, astonishingly, the first Spanish-language opera commissioned by a major U.S. opera company, Daniel Catán's "Florencia en el Amazonas" had by its very nature all the makings of becoming an operatic game-changer when it was first performed in Houston in 1996. Texans loved it. Angelenos loved it when it reached Los Angeles Opera the following year.
Catán, who lived in L.A. and died in 2011, became a beloved local composer and an international figure. At last, we had a new Spanish-language opera for a host of excellent native Spanish-speaking singers on the international circuit.
And finally, after 17 years, L.A. Opera returned "Florencia" to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Saturday night in a modified version of Francesca Zambello's original production. The game has by now long been changed. But as this revival makes curiously clear, not quite as we might have first imagined.
What struck the first-night audience as new in "Florencia" was not its Latin roots, essential though they were to Catán's source and musical style. The inspiration for this story—of passengers on a ship traveling on the Amazon in the early 1900s to hear the return of a native opera star but discovering something else entirely—was the magic realism of Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez.
The inspiration for the gorgeous pigmentation of Catán's atmospheric orchestral writing, the most original part of the score, was the Amazon itself, the magical sounds and sensations of the jungle. But the inspiration for the vocal lines was Puccini. That was a shock from a composer who had a background in North and Latin American as well as European, Modernism.
There is inevitably in "Florencia" a titillating tension between the sophisticated Latin instrumental writing and anachronistic Italianate singing. But it was hard to hear that at first. At the opera's premiere, for instance, a distinguished European opera critic who was part of a large international press contingent that had traveled to Houston to hear what had been promoted as the most newsworthy new opera of the year, was in dismay; he complained that he could not possibly find a way to justify to his editors the expense of reporting on warmed-over verismo opera. No one in Germany would care, he insisted.
Americans did care. And Catán's overt neo-Romanticism wound up as the main reason "Florencia" caught on (even in Europe) and helped generate a new genre of populist opera.
It is a little easier, although still somewhat problematic, to come to terms with Catán's old and new in the L.A. Opera revival. Part of what made it easier was the outstanding conducting of Grant Gershon, who unraveled new layers of wonder in Catán's orchestration. The pit, more than stage, is where most of the magical realism is realized.
Marcela Fuentes-Berain's Márquez-manqué libretto populates the ship with characters who find love in the time of cholera. For two couples and the opera star, Florencia, the Amazon becomes a river of psychopharmacological properties, a drug that opens their various emotional blockages.
Florencia, who travels incognito, seeks fulfillment in a lost love of a butterfly hunter. The blockage of the young lovers, Rosalba and Arcadio, is their disdain for love. The blockage of middle-age lovers Paula and álvaro is their familiarity. The Prospero-like Ríolobo, who serves as narrator, is the spirit of the river, able to command its mystical powers.
The Amazon has its work cut out for it, and Catán compensates for the libretto's clumsy obviousness with shifting rhythms in the orchestra, where the rhythms are neither obvious nor clumsy. Lush, lurid climaxes are plentiful, but a brass undercurrent, with special credit to devious trombone glissandi, offers the aural impression of sand shifting underfoot.
New to Zambello's unfussy production, which takes place on a minimalist ship designed by Robert Israel, are painterly Amazonian projections by S. Katy Tucker that add a nice touch. Eric Sean Fogel's tasteful new choreography for five dancers symbolizes the river's strange nature more effectively than does Ríolobo, a fairly wan character.
"Florencia" requires a parade of Puccinians, and L.A. Opera features five singers who are native Spanish speakers. Unfortunately, Chilean soprano Verónica Villarroel—a regular with the company in the 1990s who hasn't performed in an opera here for a decade—comes vocally too late to the title role. But mezzo-soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera provides a robust Paula, and soprano Lisette Oropesa, a brilliantly perky Rosalba.
Arturo Chacón-Cruz's sweet and lithe tenor may be a shade too light for Arcadio, but he is an appealing presence onstage. Baritone José Carbó adds athletic grace to Ríolobo; Gordon Hawkins is an álvaro with an edge; David Pittsinger, an affable ship's captain.
All find their love and are transformed by it, but they are little more than the river's Puccinian pawns. Thanks to the L.A. Opera orchestra, at least, this ol' man Amazon really rolls along.
In what I think is Walt Disney's most beautiful animated feature PINOCCHIO (1940) there are two sidewheel steamboats, both with stacks side by side in the manner of our favorite Inland Waterways boats.
The boat on the left transported gullible, foolish boys who are lured to "enjoy" for one night the perverse excesses of an amusement park on "Pleasure Island" off the coast of Tuscany where they are encouraged to misbehave as much as they like by vandalizing property, smoking and fighting.
As a result of their night of debauchery the boys are transformed into donkeys who are then rounded up by sinister dark figures who nail the donkey/boys in crates; put them aboard the boat on the right and transported from Pleasure Island back to the mainland where they are sold to salt mines and circuses by the ringleader of the operation, "The Coachman." The latter characters appears to have been based on Charles Laughton's character, Sir Humphrey Pengallan who led a gang that lured ships at night onto the rocky shores of Cornwall in order to salvage their cargoes in Hitchcock's 1939 motion picture JAMAICA INN.
The marionette without strings called Pinocchio longs to become a "real boy" and after engaging in excesses on Pleasure Island he begins to transform into a donkey (beginning with long ears and a tail) but is rescued from the island before the he can transform further by his loyal "Conscience" Jiminy Cricket.
The blu-ray edition of PINOCCHIO is spectacular - the Technicolor is enhanced and the images refined and sharpened brilliantly - it's a feast for the eyes.
The protagonist characters are endearing and charming and the villains humorous but menacing, the voice actors perfect including Cliff Edwards (a native of Hannibal, Missouri) as the key character Jiminy Cricket, who is the narrator and sings what became Disney's signature song "When You Wish Upon a Star."
Frame capture of the Sacramento steamboat CAPTAIN WEBER as the "Cumberland" in DIXIE 1943.
Bing Crosby starred as black face minstrel man Dan Emmett who wrote the popular song DIXIE, first performed in 1859 that became the anthem of "Southerners" during the Civil War to the dismay of Emmett who was a "Northerner." The scene this frame came from was recycled as "stock footage" 10 years later in the Tyrone Power "vehicle" MISSISSIPPI GAMBLER 1953. For more about the Mississippi Gambler boat, go here.