Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Mantan Moreland and Robert Lowery

THE MYSTERY OF THE RIVERBOAT (1944). 13 chapter Universal serial. Directors: Lewis D. Collins and Ray Taylor.

After Dr. Hartman (the ubiquitous Byron Foulger), who has discovered a new fuel, is murdered, Steve Langtry (Robert Lowery) discovers that a group of men --headed by Clayton (Arthur Hohl) -- are out to cheat his father out of some land he owns, although he doesn't know why. For 13 chapters these men and Langtry and his pals try to outwit each other. Most of the action centers of the riverboat Morning Glory, which is operated by Captain Perrin (Oscar O'Shea) and his daughter Jenny (Marjory Clements). Entertainers on the riverboat, who get mixed up in the action, include Celeste Elstree (Marion Martin), who sings several numbers, and dancer Jug Jenks (Eddie Quillan), who is a character. The boat's porter is the delightful Napoleon (Mantan Moreland) and Lyle Talbot is cast as one of Clayton's henchmen. The best scenes have to do with the cracking of the levee and the subsequent flood, and a bit with a runaway bus with several people aboard. The Mystery of the Riverboat has a number of interesting elements, none of which quite jell with the others. 5 years after this, Lowery played Batman in the serial Batman and Robin.

Verdict: Entertaining if minor-league mish mash. **1/2.

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