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On February 27, 1850, Sacramento officially incorporated as a city. On the 161st anniversary of this event, we'll be showing the Buster Keaton classic which was filmed here!
William Burg from the Sacramento County Historical Society will be dropping by to speak following the film.
Steamboat Bill, Jr. cost approximately $400,000, much of which was spent in Sacramento. The film employed over 1000 locals as extras (the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce provided the staff for the hiring of these extras), and the town featured in the film was built along the Sacramento River, employing local workers. All materials for the construction were also purchased locally. Keaton's production filled hotels (including the Senator) and restaurants, and all food service was also hired locally.
In Steamboat Bill Jr., Keaton plays Willie Canfield, the namby-pamby son of rough-and-tumble steamboat captain "Steamboat Bill" Canfield (Ernest Torrence). When he's not trying to make a man out of his boy, the captain is carrying on a feud with Tom Carter (Tom McGuire), the wealthy owner of a fancy new ferryboat. Carter has a pretty daughter, Mary King (Marion Byron), with whom Willie falls in love. The two younger folks try to patch up the feud, but this seems impossible once the captain is jailed for punching out Carter. Willie tries ineptly to bust his dad out of jail, only to wind up in the hospital while trying to escape the law. As Willie lies unconscious in bed, a huge cyclone hits town, knocking down tall buildings like kindling. Upon awakening, he does his best to remain standing as the winds buffet him about. He takes refuge in a tree, which is promptly uprooted and blown toward the waterfront. Here is where Willie proves his manhood -- and ends the feud between Steamboat Bill and Carter -- by rescuing practically everyone in the cast from a watery grave.