The Mystery of the Riverboat
Universal 1944 - 13 Chapters
Written by: Maurice Tombragel (Screenplay), Ande Lamb (Original story and adaptation)
Directed by: Ray Taylor, Lewis D. Collins
Cinematography: William Sickner
Starring Robert Lowery as Steve Langtry
Mantan Moreland as Napoleon
Lyle Talbot as Toller
Eddie Quillan as Jug Jenks
Supporting Cast: Marion Martin as Celeste Eltree, Marjory Clements as Jenny Perrin, Arthur Hohl as “Clayton,” Oscar O'Shea as Captain Perrin, Francis McDonald as Batiste, Eddy C. Waller as Charles Langtry, Ian Wolfe as Herman Einrich, Byron Foulger as Dr. Hartman, Earle Hodgins as Jean Duval, Anthony Warde as Bruno Bloch, Alec Craig as the chief engineer, Cy Kendall as Chief Dumont, Dick Curtis as Craig Casard, Jay Novello as Pierce, Joe Devlin as Louis Schaber
In this unique serial, set in New Orleans, after the inventor of a super-fuel and is brutally murdered, attorney Steve Langtry, Captain Perrin of the riverboat Morning Glory, his daughter Jenny, entertainer Jug Jenks and the ship's porter Napoleon struggle to fight crooks and a mysterious assassin from gaining control of swampland which contains valuable secrets.
Danger rears its ugly head first aboard ship, then on the road, near a levee about to break during a storm, and finally during a chase through the swamplands amid quicksand and explosives. There's plenty of excitement to be had here, once you get past Eddie Quillan's cheesy shipboard nightclub act. This serial is not repetitious but always seems to be moving forward to its ultimate destination. It's also low on the silly factor, as most of the main characters are quite believable in their roles, and even stock footage is put to excellent use.
THE MYSTERY OF THE RIVERBOAT is notable for its Louisiana location and also for being the only sound serial to include an African-American actor in a principal role -- Mantan Moreland here plays a ship's porter who ends up thoroughly enmeshed in the mysterious goings-on, and involved in nearly as much of the crucial action as the leading man, and his Napoleon comes off as the most interesting character in the story -- when he's onscreen, he's the one you want to watch. Not surprisingly for the time, he didn't receive anything close to second billing or a picture on the poster art. We've corrected this omission on the Squadron DVD cover.
Read comments by Squadron members about THE MYSTERY OF THE RIVERBOAT
The digital transfer here is exceptionally sharp, with excellent contrast, from a good quality splice-free original print with some noticeable developing streaks (which were present in the original film print) visible some of the time. Sound has been fully restored and is loud and clear and completely hiss-free. Reel change markers have also been eliminated.
List price $14.95, available now at $12.95