Mississippi


1h 13m 1935

Brief Synopsis

A young pacifist after refusing on principle to defend her sweetheart's honor and being banished in disgrace, joins a riverboat troupe as a singer, acquires a reputation as a crackshot after a saloon brawl in which the villain of the piece accidentally kills himself with his own gun, falls in love with his former fianceé's sister and finally bullies an apprehensive family into accepting him.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 22, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Magnolia by Booth Tarkington (New York, 27 Aug 1923).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

In the antebellum South, Commodore Orlando Jackson is the bumbling, drunken captain of the Mississippi showboat The River Queen . One night he takes the show on land to General Rumford's plantation to entertain at an engagement party at which Rumford's daughter Elvira will announce her engagement to Tom Grayson, his ward. The gathering is interrupted by Major Patterson, a former suitor of Elvira. He protests the engagement on the grounds that they were previously engaged, and challenges Tom to a duel. Tom, who is an Easterner, refuses to duel over petty jealousy, but loses the respect of Elvira and Rumford for not conforming to Southern custom. He is asked to leave, and as he is departing, Rumford's youngest daughter Lucy confesses to being in love with him. Despite her beauty, Tom does not take her seriously because she is young. He signs a contract with Jackson to sing on the showboat. During one of Jackson's many card games, Tom saves his employer's life by preventing an angry gambler from knifing him. Jackson is grateful and uses this incident to save himself from Captain Blackie, to whom he owes money. Jackson invents a character named Colonel Steele, "the singing killer," and tells Blackie that Tom is Steele. During Tom's performance that night, Blackie attempts to stop the show, threatening to kill Tom. Tom becomes angry, interrupts the show and fights with Blackie, killing him with his own gun. After this, Jackson, a teller of tall tales, advertises that his show stars the notorious Steele, and Tom seems to take the personal attributes that suit the character. Tom acquires great fame, and by the time he meets Lucy again, she has grown into womanhood. They fall in love, but when she discovers he is the Colonel Steele who reportedly killed her cousin, she leaves him and returns home. Tom later receives a letter from Lavinia, Lucy's maid, informing him Lucy is engaged to be married. He goes to the plantation and successfully intimidates both Major Patterson and Lucy's fiancé, thus regaining Rumford's admiration. After realizing the Steele story is a lie, Lucy happily returns with Tom to the showboat.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 22, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Magnolia by Booth Tarkington (New York, 27 Aug 1923).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A pre-release article in Motion Picture Herald attributes the screenplay to credited writer Herbert Fields and Hugh Wiley, who wrote black stories for The Saturday Evening Post. However, a pre-release article in Hollywood Reporter indicates that Henry Myers was signed to develop this story. According to news items in Hollywood Reporter, director Wesley Ruggles took over direction of some scenes due to Sutherland's illness; however, Sutherland returned to complete the film. According to a press release, Karl Struss began as cameraman on this film. Modern sources state that he was pulled from this film to photograph a Mae West picture (presumably Goin' to Town. A production still shows Struss on the set of Mississippi. An advertisement for the film billed The Cabin Kids as "Those Ethiopian Quintuplets...five sun-tanned, rhythm-shouting scamps." According to the press book, the children-Ruth, 11; Helen, 10; James, 9; Winifred, 6; Fred, 4-were taught by their stepmother Mrs. Beatrice Hall. A black chorus backed Bing Crosby's "Swanee" number. The pressbook notes Eugene Merritt supervised the recording of Crosby's films. An article in Variety notes that the "Crosby part was written with Lanny Ross in mind." The article also mentions that Molasses and January, the radio comedy team, are billed in reviews but do not appear in the film. New York Times notes that much of W. C. Fields's performance was ad-libbed, including a number with a calliope. Other films based on Booth Tarkington's play are Famous Players-Lasky's 1924 The Fighting Coward, directed by James Cruze and starring Ernest Torrence and Mary Astor, and the 1929 River of Romance, directed by Richard Wallace and starring Charles "Buddy" Rogers and Mary Brian (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.1710 and F2.4635). A modern source notes that some of the card tricks and Indian stories used in this film were also used in My Little Chickadee (see below).