Steamboats in the Movies - MGM's Cotton Blossom, Page 2
MGM put the Cotton Blossom (from SHOW BOAT 1951) into service again in 1964 as the "Donnie Dixon" for the extremely broad and corny farce set during the Civil War called "Advance to the Rear." Six widescreen frames attached. The "captures" were pretty dark off the DVD but I was able to brighten and enhance them in Photoshop. The stacks were cut off in the upper right frame so I extended them, added smoke from a photo of the BEN HUR and extended the sky also.
Advance to the Rear (1964)
Director: George Marshall
Samuel A. Peeples and William Bowers (screenplay)
Jack Schaefer ... (story)
based on a novel "The Company of Cowards" by Jack Schaefer
New York Times Review
June 11, 1964
"Advance to the Rear, a broad and dinky little comedy starring Glenn Ford, Stella Stevens and Melvyn Douglas, opened yesterday at neighborhood theaters.
If ever a picture lived up to its title, it's this one.
The stars and the others flounder sheepishly in a warmed-over brew of slapstick and pratfalls as the Blues and Grays bump heads in wild confusion.
Even the sideline brightness of Joan Blondell cannot save the film."
Two more shots of the COTTON BLOSSOM in ADVANCE TO THE REAR. Leaning on the side of the pilot house in the top photo is a sign that reads "DONNIE DIXON."
Warner Bros. rented MGM's prop steamboat COTTON BLOSSOM (from SHOW BOAT) in 1956 and renamed it VICKSBURG for a movie entitled SANTIAGO in which Alan Ladd is hired to take a cargo of rifles aboard this steamboat from the coast of Florida to Santiago, Cuba in order to arm local rebels who are trying to overthrow the Colonial Spanish government. On the left are action frames of the sternwheel and bow demonstrating the boat's speedy crossing of the Gulf which in reality could have easily turned into "heavy seas" that would swamp and sink a river steamboat but it's relatively clear sailing for the protagonists except that they have to run the Spanish blockade which is between them and the coast of Cuba. That is Chill Wills as the VICKSBURG's Captain outside the pilot house. Am not sure who played the steersman at the pilot wheel in the lower right frame. There are some "shoot 'em up" scenes in the movie to qualify it as a moderately good "action adventure."
Santiago (1956) Directed by Gordon Douglas Screenplay by Martin Rackin & John Twist from the novel by Martin Rackin Starring Alan Ladd
MGM's 1962 Cinerama Western spectacular HOW THE WEST WAS WON included several steamboat sequences.
Top frame is in the cabin of the Sacramento Queen in which MGM used it appears that MGM's art director may have used some of the interior details - (arches and skylights) from the cabin set which they had built for their 1951 musical SHOW BOAT. Note a model of a sidewheeler secured to the bulkhead above the bartender, far right.
In the second frame MGM's COTTON BLOSSOM is visible as an atmospheric backdrop on the right outside the window in a night time scene where Gregory Peck stands indoors in the foreground with a carpet bag.
In the third frame is reused footage from MGM's 1957 Civil War epic RAINTREE COUNTY of the Delta Queen, apparently on the Ohio River somewhere with a boxy contrivance behind the pilot house to conceal her single smokestack and to provide housing for the rig that diverted her smoke into twin stacks.
Here's the COTTON BLOSSOM again, this time renamed the CHATTAHOOCHEE QUEEN for the 1953 Dick Haymes musical comedy for Columbia Pictures called CRUISIN' DOWN THE RIVER.
COTTON BLOSSOM cameo in a popular 1965 sitcom: MY FAVORITE MARTIAN
Go West, Young Martian: Part 1 (Season 3, Episode 1)
1st broadcast on 12 Sep. 1965
My Favorite Martian: Complete Season 3 available on DVD's
Partial synopsis relevant to the steamboat sequence of this episode from the Internet Movie data base: imdb.com
Uncle Martin rebuilds his cathode-ray centrifugal time breakascope - convinced that if he transports himself to just before the time he crashed, he can fix the problem and fly back to Mars. Detective Bill Brennan inadvertently flips the switch for the delay function, sending Tim O'Hara and Martin back in time. Instead of 1215 Merry Old England where they were sent last time, they are sent to 1849 St. Louis.
Unfortunately the CCTBS didn't make the trip with them. Instead it should still be in the exact same spot in what is the site of Los Angeles in 1849. Unfortunately, they run into Bill Brennan's great-grandfather, also a lawman, who arrests them for passing off "fake" money that Tim brought with him from 1965.
With some Martian trickery, they break out of jail just in time to catch a riverboat up the Missouri. This marks the start of their trek to Los Angeles. On the riverboat, they run into a woman who happens to be Mrs. Lorelei Brown's great-grandmother, Loralei Glutz.
The unfortunate circumstance of their meeting is that Tim, hearing her cries of a thief who has stolen her pocketbook, punches out the person who was chasing the crooks instead of the crooks themselves. Tim has altered the course of history as the pocketbook contained her dowry, without which she cannot get married which in turn means that Mrs. Brown would never have been born. So they have to catch the crooks and get Loralei Gltuz' dowry back to her. But the crooks turn the tables - they recognize Tim and Martin as the one's who were locked up in St. Louis and plan on turning them in. Before the ship's captain can do so, Tim and Martin abandon ship into the Missouri.
An illustration based on MGM's "Cotton Blossom"
The artist who painted this detail of a cover illustration is not credited in the book it came from. It was painted for the front of a 1965 paperback edition of Mark Twain's 1883 memoir and travelogue LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI. with an Introduction by John Willoughby; Classics Series CL55, Airmont Publishing, 1965.
Attached another example of an artist who used as reference a photo of the MGM COTTON BLOSSOM for use this illustration. It is from a 1956 British edition of Twain's HUCK FINN by Walter Hodges. The steamboat in the upper part of the painting has the trademark twin curved staircases on the bow. The characters on the raft in the lower part of the painting are Huck Finn, the runaway slave Jim and the two con men who call themselves "The Duke" and "The Dauphin."
Elevation drawing of the Cotton Blossom starboard profile.
The COTTON BLOSSOM again in MGM's 1960 version of HUCKLEBERRY FINN starring Eddie Hodges in the title role. Here the precocious actor is waving his straw hat at everybody on board in the opening scene of the steamboat landing at Hannibal, MO.