Mississippi (1935)

73 or 75 mins | Comedy-drama | 22 March 1935

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HISTORY

A pre-release article in MPH 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 HR indicates that Henry Myers was signed to develop this story. According to news items in HR , 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 (see above). 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 Var 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. NYT 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 ... More Less

A pre-release article in MPH 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 HR indicates that Henry Myers was signed to develop this story. According to news items in HR , 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 (see above). 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 Var 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. NYT 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). More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
17 Jan 35
p. 1.
Daily Variety
18 Jan 35
p. 1.
Daily Variety
26 Jan 35
p. 1.
Film Daily
2 Apr 35
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
17-Dec-34
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jan 35
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 35
p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily
23 Feb 35
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
2 Mar 35
pp. 54-55.
Motion Picture Herald
12 Jan 35
p. 54.
New York Times
14-Apr-35
---
New York Times
18 Apr 35
p. 27.
Variety
24 Apr 35
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Fill-In dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Contr to trmt
Contr to trmt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Orig photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Magnolia by Booth Tarkington (New York, 27 Aug 1923).
SONGS
"Soon," "It's Easy to Remember," "Down by the River" and "Roll Mississippi," words and music by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
"Old Folks at Home," words and music by Stephen Foster.
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 March 1935
Production Date:
ended 25 January 1935
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
22 March 1935
Copyright Number:
LP5417
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
73 or 75
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
540
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 ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.