Steamboat ’round The Bend

John Ford’s third feature with Will Rogers (1935, 80 min.) proved to be their last together, and was released only after the popular actor died in an air crash. Rogers plays a steamboat captain in the 1890s who commands a floating wax museum and dispenses patent medicine with a high alcoholic contentideal Ford material, with two of his favorite screenwriters, Dudley Nichols and Lamar Trotti, on board (adapting a novel by Ben Lucien Berman), as well as Stepin Fetchit, one of his favorite actors. But the movie is a distinct comedown from the previous Ford-Rogers pairing, the sublime Judge Priest, though it’s still an improvement on their first Dr. Bull. Ford complained 20 years later that producer Darryl F. Zanuck cut out most of the comedy, though the Americana that remains still carries a lot of flavor. With Irvin S. Cobb, Francis Ford, Eugene Pallette, and Charles Middleton. (JR)

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