Steamboats in the Movies
Universal Studios Prop Boat Enterprise, page 1
Universal's prop "riverboat" the ENTERPRISE.
Scanned from a 35mm color slide.
We all refer to the Universal Studios prop steamboat as the ENTERPRISE, since it was most remembered for its role by that name in the RIVERBOAT television series (1959-1961). Universal built the replica boat for the MISSISSIPPI GAMBLER (1953) staring Tyrone Power. It sat on a lake on the back lots of Universal Studios. Ultimately the ENTERPRISE was consumed by fire on the Universal lot.
Here's a partial list of shows featuring this replica boat:
MISSISSIPPI GAMBLER 1953 Universal, 1953*
THE FAR COUNTRY - Universal, 1954
THE GAMBLER FROM NATCHEZ - 20th Century Fox, 1954*
MAN OF A 1,000 FACES - Universal, 1957
RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL - Universal, 1958)
RIVERBOAT - Revue Productions television series that was broadcast on NBC, 1959-1961*
FOUR FOR TEXAS - Warner Bros., 1963*
Photo of a scale model of the ENTERPRISE "Riverboat" - most likely in a pond in the middle of a walkway at Universal Studios. The name "MATTERHORN" was superimposed in the lower left corner outside of the oval vignette so this photo probably came from a theme-park web site or blog (the name "Matterhorn" derived from the attraction at DISNEYLAND which is about 1 10th the size of the actual mountain on the border of Switzerland and Italy).
The model was probably functional and used to film scenes of the ENTERPRISE for the RIVERBOAT series in a miniature "riverscape" with a scaled down "wooded shoreline" and water that was activated to simulate a current. The model could have run on a track or may have been radio controlled.
The photograph of the model was most likely taken when it was on display outdoors in a pond in the middle of a walkway somewhere on Universal's property.
After its debut in THE GAMBLER, Universal's prop steamboat got pressed into service in the 1954 James Stewart Western directed by Anthony Mann entitled THE FAR COUNTRY that begins in Seattle in 1896 and ventures up to Alaska with a boat load of cattle during the Klondike gold rush. The top two frames were "matte shots" in which much of the upper portion of the scene was a painted in post-production, enhancing the steamboat and adding mountains in the distance
Some footage taken of the HENDERSON on the Columbia River for the 1952 James Stewart Western BEND OF THE RIVER, also directed by Anthony Mann served to give the illusion that the "CHINOOK" (as the boat is called in THE FAR COUNTRY) is paddling from Seattle to Alaska. Frames from BEND OF THE RIVER can be found among our earlier postings of movie stills.
"LILY SCARLET" in Duel on the Mississippi 1955
Universal prop Riverboat (a.k.a. ENTERPRISE) without any smokestacks in an "exploitation" flick directed by William Castle (best known for many low budget shockers like The House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts and The Tingler). Released by Columbia Pictures in '55
This time Universal's riverboat bears the same name as the movie's leading lady "Lily Scarlet" (Patricia Medina).
Available on DVD from Amazon.com.
DUEL ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Director: William Castle
Release date January 1st, 1955
1 hr. 12 min.
An aristocrat (Lex Barker) has a machete duel with the leader (Warren Stevens) of a Creole girl's (Patricia Medina) bayou gang in 1820s Louisiana.
Publicist's tag line"THE ROARING STORY OF THE NOTORIOUS LILI SCARLET—GAMBLING QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI!"
A little longer synopsis:
In bustling era of 19th-century Louisiana, sugar is as valuable as gold, and pirates like Lily Scarlet (Patricia Medina) will do anything to get it. After robbing Jules Tulane's (John Dehner) estate of his crop, Scarlet takes over Tulane's land debt and forces him to pay or go to prison. In exchange for postponing his debt, Scarlet allows Tulane's son, André (Lex Barker), to work as her servant. When André and Scarlet fall in love, it leads to jealous rage from Scarlet's former paramour, expert swordsman Hugo (Warren Stevens) - and when Hugo looks to raid the Tulane estate again, it is up to André and Scarlet to take him down and save the estate.
Appearing in MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES, 1957.
The attached frame is from the Comedy/Western RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL (1958), starring War Hero turned Actor Audie Murphy. Murphy's co-star Walter Matthau as "Judge Kyle" lived aboard the little shantyboat on the far left.
Riverboat 1959 ANNE BAXTER as Ellie Jenkins: "A Race to Cincinnati"
TV GUIDE ad:
"A Race to Cincinnati"
Season 1 Episode 4
October 4th, 1959
6 - 7 p.m. NBC TV
Guest star Anne Baxter as Ellie Jenkins
Universal's "ENTERPRISE" RIVERBOAT in "THE RAWHIDE YEARS" 1955
4 FRAME CAPTURES FROM UNIVERSAL'S "ENTERPRISE" RIVERBOAT AS SHE WAS PRESSED INTO SERVICE AGAIN AS BOTH THE "MONTANA QUEEN" AND THE NORTHERN BELLE IN DAY AND NIGHT SCENES FROM THIS 1955 TONY CURTIS WESTERN WHICH CAN BE SEEN IN ITS ENTIRETY ON YOUTUBE:
The Rawhide Years (1955) Tony Curtis Western Movie
Published on Jul 17, 2015
The Rawhide Years (1955). Western Movie.
Directed by Rudolph Maté.
With Tony Curtis, Colleen Miller, Arthur Kennedy, William Demarest.
THE GAMBLER . . . THE GUNSLINGER . . . THE RIVER LADY KNOWN AS 'ZOE' . . .
They Risked Their Luck On A Turn Of A Card . . . Their Lives On The Draw Of A Gun!
Ben Matthews gives up the flashy life of a riverboat gambler, hoping to settle down in Galena with his girlfriend, luscious entertainer Zoe. But Galena's leading citizen is murdered on the boat; Ben, on arrival, finds a lynch mob after his neck, and flees. Three years of wandering later, Zoe's letters stop coming and Ben returns to find her and attempt the hopeless task of clearing himself.
Square poster for RIVER LADY 1948
Colorful poster for the 1948 Universal movie RIVER LADY
Synopsis excerpted from a review by L Jones 66 word press:
Set in the upper Mississippi River Valley during the decade after the Civil War, "RIVER LADY" is an adaptation of Frank Waters and Houston Branch's 1942 novel. It told the story of a conflict between the citizens of a Minnesota mill town, the loggers who worked downstream and the lumber mill owners. The representative of a local lumber syndicate named Bauvais wants to purchase a struggling lumber mill from its owner, H.L. Morrison. But the latter refuses to sell. However, the owner of a gambling riverboat owner named Sequin manages to purchase the mill in order to provide a reputable job for her boyfriend, Dan Corrigan, a lumberjack whom she loves. However, Sequin has a rival in Morrison's only daughter, Stephanie. When the latter learns about Dan and Sequin's engagement, she exposes Sequin's purchase of the Morrison mill. Dan becomes enraged when he realizes that his fiancé has manipulated his life and in a drunken fit, rejects the riverboat owner and marries Stephanie. Business sparks eventually ignite between a vengeful Dan and an angry Sequin, who has aligned herself with the mercenary Bauvais.
· Yvonne De Carlo as Sequin
· Dan Duryea as Beauvais
· Rod Cameron as Dan Corrigan
· Helena Carter as Stephanie Morrison
· Lloyd Gough as Mike Riley
· Florence Bates as Ma Dunnegan
· John McIntire as H.L. Morrison
· Jack Lambert as Swede
· Esther Somers as Mrs. Morrison
· Anita Turner as Esther
· Edmund Cobb as Rider
· Dewey Robinson as Bouncer
· Eddy Waller as Hewitt
· Milton Kibbee as Limpy
· Billy Wayne as Dealer
All captions provided by Dave Thomson, Steamboats.com primary contributor and historian.