steamboats in movies

Steamboat Round the Bend
Outtakes, Promo Photos, and Behind the Scenes

Stepin Fetchit

Stepin Fetchit as Jonah, Will Rogers as Doctor John Pearly and former prize fighter John Lester Johnson in his uncredited role as Uncle Jeff in the scene where the CLAREMORE QUEEN was approaching the steamboats lined up for the race.

Uncle Jeff is holding the lead line like he's fixin' to take some soundings.

Steamboat Round the Bend

Publicity still, evidently from the "happy ending" of the 1935 film after Will Rogers and his crew had won the PRIDE OF PADUCAH from Irvin. S. Cobb in the steamboat race and saved Rogers' nephew Duke from the gallows with the aid of the evangelist called "The New Moses" who had witnessed Duke's fight with the man he was accused of murdering.

The prop department forgot to darken the inside of the bowl of Rogers' corn cob pipe which is in bright mint condition, so it had obviously never been smoked by Rogers or anyone else.

Anne Shirley looks so attractive in that dress. For most of the movie she was dressed in either boy's clothes or in an old Civil War era frock with a skirt that was too short and her legs covered with absurd pantalettes. The actress was born Dawn Evelyn Paris in New York in 1918, so she was 17 when she made STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND. She changed her name after playing the character Anne Shirley in ANNE OF GREEN GABLES made in 1934, the year before she played Fleety Belle here.

Will Rogers was a big fan of aviation but was grounded from flying while he made this movie for fear that something might happen to him before the movie was finished but after the movie was wrapped up he and Wiley Post flew up to Alaska where both men were killed in the crash of Post's plane at Point Barrow on August 15, 1935.


Unusual still from "Round the Bend" which may have been filmed as a scene for the movie then "cut" from the final version. Francis "Frank" Ford seems to be offering some advice to the little girl sitting on sacks of grain while a little boy sits between them nearby looking a little dubious about this strange white man. The little girl looks a bit baffled and/or intimidated. The PRIDE OF PADUCAH is behind them probably during the scene where Rogers as Doctor John is talking to the New Moses at the boat landing. We have a long shot of the two men, full view head to toe with the PADUCAH behind them in the distance. Somehow the image has dropped out of the museum pages. I'll scare up my latest scan of it and send it to you.


Will Rogers as Doc Pearly fishin' from the top deck of the PRIDE OF PADUCAH. He was in the same pose seated in the same chair with fishin' rod and all in the very last scene in the movie but the railing was not fancy like this, it consisted of plumbed pipes and joints and the camera was looking from a point of view suspended above the river. This is a detail from the insert inside the DVD case for the 2006 20th Century Fox DVD release of the movie.


I cropped in on this to focus on the "Floating Museum" banner on the CLAREMORE QUEEN and Fleety Belle and Duke sitting on the river bank admiring the spectacle.

Don't believe this set up was ever put on motion picture film, probably a publicist directed the still photographer to shoot a number of stills that could be used to promote the actress and actor, the boat and the river scenery.


"Swamp gal" Fleety Belle (Anne Shirley) with Dr. Pearly's nephew, the steamboat pilot Duke (John McGuire). The "engaged couple" were photographed on the foredeck of the CLAREMORE QUEEN.

Anne Shirley was born Dawn Evelyeen Paris, in New York City on April 17, 1918.

She began her career as a child actress under the name Dawn O'Day,

She adopted the name of the character Anne Shirley that she played in the first film version of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES in 1934.

Among her films was STELLA DALLAS (1937), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

She retired from acting in 1944, at the age of 26. She remained in Los Angeles, where she died at the age of 75 on July 4, 1993.

John McGuire was born on October 22, 1910.

As an actor he was best known for STANGER ON THE 3RD FLOOR (1940), SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1949) and INVISIBLE GHOST (1941).

McGuire died on September 30, 1980 in Dublin, Ireland.


John McGuire as Doc's nephew, the pilot DUKE

Anne Shirley as Duke's bride the "Swamp Gal" FLEETY BELLE

Irvin S. Cobb as ELI, Captain of the PRIDE OF PADUCAH


This was the last movie for Will Rogers. He died in an airplane crash shortly before the release of Steamboat Round the Bend.


Will Rogers looking into the wrong end of the telescope in the pilot house of the PRIDE OF PADUCAH. Irvin S. Cobb as Cap'n Eli and Vester Pegg as the pilot Mink are feigning great amusement.

Cap'n Eli

Irvin S. Cobb, Cap'n Eli of the PRIDE OF PADUCAH evidently really fishing or just posing for a publicity still during shooting of STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND on the Sacramento River.


Irvin S. Cobb as Cap'n Eli seems to be listening to somebody on another boat or on shore while he holds a speaking trumpet. Could be that Cobb was listening to instructions from director John Ford.

The twin smokestacks on the Sacramento River steamer which played the PRIDE OF PADUCAH were added to the boat to make it resemble a Mississippi River style boat. The pilot house and other details are very reminiscent of the DELTA QUEEN's which was in the same fraternity (or should it be "sorority"?) of Sacramento River boats.

Photo Courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Steamboat Collection Photographs


8 x 10 press photo of STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND author Ben Lucien Burman. Rubber stamped on the back August 8, 1939 along with the initials N.E.A. which probably stood for National Education Association

Text of the caption which was printed under a cropped version of the photo in newspapers:

When a distinguished committee gave Ben Lucien Burman's most recent novel, "Blow for a Landing," the Southern Authors' Award for the best book of 1938, it was recognition of the authenticity of his writing.

For Burman - pictured above at the helm of the river steamer GORDON C. GREENE - actually has served as a cub pilot on the Mississippi.

(The steamboat that Ben was a cub pilot on was the TENNESSEE BELLE according to a note hand written by him preceding his autograph which he inscribed in a copy I have of his novel STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND].