The Naughty Nineties


1h 16m 1945

Brief Synopsis

In the gay '90s, cardsharps take over a Mississippi riverboat from a kindly captain. Their first act is to change the showboat into a floating gambling house. A ham actor and his bumbling sidekick try to devise a way to help the captain regain ownership of the vessel.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 6, 1945
Premiere Information
New York opening: 20 Jun 1945
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,843ft

Synopsis

In the 1890s, The River Queen , a family-oriented showboat owned by Captain Sam Jackson, docks in the small Mississippi town of Ironville, with a new show featuring actor Dexter Broadhurst. Also on board the ship is Dexter's bumbling but good-hearted assistant, Sebastian Dinwiddie. Just as the showboat arrives in town, gamblers Crawford, Bonita Farrow and Bailey are ordered to leave Ironville by the sheriff. Seeing an opportunity to make some real money, the three arrange to meet Captain Sam at the Gilded Cage saloon in St. Louis, and there wine and dine him. Despite the best efforts of Dexter and Sebastian to save the naïve seaman's investment, the three win controlling interest in The River Queen in a dishonest poker game. Crawford, Bonita and Bailey then set up a crooked gambling operation on the ship, agreeing to leave once Captain Sam pays them $15,000. After one of his customers is shot during a gambling dispute, Captain Sam publicly condemns his partners. Although Bonita warns him that another such outburst will land him and his performers ashore, Crawford begins to have pangs of guilt about his friends's treatment of the showboat performers, as well as romantic feelings for Caroline, Captain Sam's beautiful daughter. Meanwhile, Dexter and Sebastian break into Bailey's room whie he is sleeping to search for Captain Sam's promissory notes, but find nothing. Later, after Sebastian exposes a crooked dice game at one port, Bonita offers to play Captain Sam a single game of poker for the full interest in The River Queen . Unknown to Bonita, Crawford has rigged the deck so that the seaman will win, and in the ensuing mêlée, Dexter and Sebastian manage to capture Bailey and all his men. Bonita and Bailey are then arrested, and as his reward, Sebastian is finally given a role in The River Queen's latest production, playing "Little Eva" in Uncle Tom's Cabin .

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 6, 1945
Premiere Information
New York opening: 20 Jun 1945
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,843ft

Quotes

Strange as it may seem, they give ball players nowadays very peculiar names.
- Dexter Broadhurst
Funny names?
- Sebastian Dinwiddle
Nicknames. Nicknames.
- Dexter Broadhurst
Not -- not as funny as my name -- Sebastian Dinwiddie.
- Sebastian Dinwiddle
Oh, yes, yes, yes!
- Dexter Broadhurst

Trivia

Contains the famous "Who's on First" routine.

The only baseball defensive position NOT mentioned in the "Who's On First" routine: Right Field.

Listen closely during the "Who's On First" routine. The laughter that can be heard faintly belongs to the film crew and director. After numerous takes trying to eliminate it, the power of Abbott and Costello to elicit laughter during this sequence proved too strong. The director had no choice but to leave the giggling in.

Lou Costello recycles the "Lifesavers Candy" routine Groucho Marx used in the Marx Brothers' hit Horse Feathers (1932).

The boat used as the showboat "River Queen" in this production was also used as the "Cotton Palace" in Show Boat (1936)

Notes

According to Hollywood Reporter, producer Alex Gottlieb was assigned to develop an Abbott and Costello comedy entitled The Naughty Nineties in January 1943; it has not been determined, however, if any elements of Gottlieb's project were used in this film. Early Hollywood Reporter production charts include Mantan Moreland in the cast, but he did not appear in the released film. Abbott and Costello revised their famous "Who's on First?" comedy routine in The Naughty Nineties, having previously performed it in their 1940 film debut, Universal's One Night in the Tropics (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3271).