Steamboat Round the Bend
Plot Summary and Cast


Plot Summary

Doctor John Pearly (Will Rogers) buys the run down Claremore Queen, and hopes to refurbish and use it as a base to sell his mostly-alcohol Pocahontas Remedy. He also plans to set up Professor Marvel's Wax Museum as a sideshow. He brings in his nephew Duke (John McGuire), a steamboat pilot, to run the boat.

Duke turns up with his girlfriend, Fleety Belle (Anne Shirley), but with her comes trouble. Duke had to kill a man in self-defense to protect her, then her father, brother, and fiancé turn up on the Claremore Queen to get her away from Duke. Doctor John chases them away, and convinces Duke to surrender himself to the sheriff.

Duke must go to jail, and loses in court. The only hope to save him from the gallows is to find the New Moses (Benton Churchill), an evangelical preacher who witnessed the fight. Doctor John and Fleety Bell set off to find the New Moses, and take him to Memphis to speak to the governor on Duke's behalf.

There's a steamboat race about to begin, so to get down the river, they must join the race. In addition, Doctor John makes a winner-take-all bet with Captain Eli, captain of the Pride of Paducah. During the heat of the race, the Claremore Queen runs out of wood for the furnace. Doctor John must sacrifice the wax figures to pick up steam.

The New Moses preaches against the "demon rum" and is at odds with First Mate Efe, who is perpetually drunk on Pocahontas Remedy. Just when they are falling behind in the race, the New Moses takes the bottle out of Efe's hands and throws it in the furnace. The resulting explosion gives them an idea, and they throw the remaining one hundred bottles of Pocahontas Remedy into the furnace to win the race.

Hearing testimony from the New Moses, the governor declares Duke innocent by self-defense. Doctor John wins the Pride of Paducah, and Duke and Fleety pilot the Claremore Queen.

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Will Rogers - Doctor John Pearly | Dialogue from the movie
Anne Shirley - Fleety Belle | Dialogue from the movie
Irvin S. Cobb - Captain Eli | Dialogue from the movie
Francis Ford - First Mate Efe | Dialogue from the movie
Berton Churchill - the New Moses - Dialogue from the movie
Stepin Fetchit - Noah / Jacob | John McGuire - Duke | Vester Pegg - Pilot Mink
The boats | The Legendary Steamer Cherokee
Professor Marvel's Wax Museum
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Will Rogers as Doctor John Pearly

Will Rogers steamboat round the bend

Anne Shirley as Fleety Belle


Doctor John and Fleety Belle.

Irvin S. Cobb as Captain Eli

captain Eli

Irvin S. Cobb as Cap'n Eli, owner of the Pride of Paducah, Doctor John's nemesis.

Benton Churchill as the New Moses


Will Rogers with Benton Churchill.

Francis Ford as Efe


Francis Ford plays the lovable, but perpetually intoxicated first mate, Efe.

Stepin Fetchit as Jonah / Noah


Stepin Fetchit as Jonah (Noah) on the deck of the CLAREMORE QUEEN.

John McGuire as Duke


A detail of Doctor John with his nephew, Duke, in jail.

Vester Pegg as Pilot Mink

Steamboat Round the Bend

Mink (right), played by Vester Pegg, is the pilot of the Pride of Paducah.



* The dialogue above is derived from the Fox DVD English subtitles.


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All captions provided by Dave Thomson, primary contributor and historian.