Quiz about Steamboat Bill Jr
Quiz about Steamboat Bill Jr

Steamboat Bill, Jr. Trivia Quiz


This 1928 silent classic was Buster Keaton's last independent film -- and contains his most famous, breathtaking, and dangerous stunt.

A multiple-choice quiz by ubermom. Estimated time: 6 mins.
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Author
ubermom
Time
6 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
320,676
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
6 / 10
Plays
154
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. The film opens with a rivalry between the old steamboat, Stonewall Jackson, and the new King -- owned by J.J. King (Tom McGuire), who seems to own most of the town. But Steamboat Bill has hopes for his old tub, since his son, who he hasn't seen since infancy, is coming to visit. William, Jr. telegrams that Dad should know him by his white carnation. But young Willie's plan goes awry before we even meet him. Why? Hint

It's Mother's Day and just about all the men are wearing white carnations.
Willie is so laden with luggage that nobody can see the carnation.
The white carnation is turned black by the soot on the train.
His overcoat hides the carnation.

2. Since Willie's plan to be identified by the white carnation goes awry, his beefy he-man of a father doesn't recognize him at first. In fact, when Bill first sees the foppish little fellow with the beret and the ukulele, he rolls his eyes and seems relieved that this character isn't his son. But soon he learns the awful truth -- and sees something even more horrifying to his unbelieving eyes. What does Willie do that so shocks his father? Hint

He stops to pick a bouquet of pansies.
He jumps up on a table in fear of a mouse.
He gets out a bottle of cologne and spritzes himself -- and a passing dog.
He dances gaily while playing his ukulele.

3. Of course, Steamboat Bill takes his coxcomb of a son for an extreme makeover. Now it's Bill's plans that go awry, as events seem to conspire against him. He succeeds at getting rid of the dainty mustache, but a gust of wind blows away the hat he'd selected for Willie. What derails his attempts to dress his son in proper clothes? Hint

The store sends the order in Bill's size; Willie is lost in them.
Willie is so small, nothing in stock fits him.
Willie's school sweetheart intervenes and picks his clothes out for him.
He sends Willie for "work clothes" and Willie returns wearing a smart business suit.

4. Willie's first moments aboard the Stonewall Jackson are fraught with peril. He bangs himself up quite a bit and nearly falls overboard. Then he spots Kitty aboard the King. The young lovers rush to greet each other, but their fathers intervene. This leads to a shoving match between Bill and one of King's men which almost gets Willie dunked in the river. How does Bill get rid of King's man? Hint

He picks Willie up and uses him to head-butt the man overboard.
He makes Willie's hand into a fist and uses it to punch King's man.
He rams the Stonewall Jackson into the King, making the man tumble overboard.
He gives Willie a particularly hard shove into the man, sending him overboard.

5. Bill brings his son into the engine room to show him how to run the boat, but Willie bungles around and infuriates his father. But then suddenly he earns his father's praise. What does Willie do that so pleases his father? Hint

He rescues Bill's cat.
He takes a plug of tobacco and spits admirably.
He accidentally knocks King into the river.
He fights back when one of Bill's men shoves him.

6. Night falls, and Willie is determined to sneak off the Stonewall Jackson onto the King to see Kitty. Does he manage to board the King?

Yes
No

7. Rejected by both his father (who gave him a train ticket back to Boston) and his girl (who thinks he stood her up), a forlorn Willie packs his bag and begins heading back to the train station. But he spots Bill Sr. being hauled off to jail for getting into a scuffle with King. Willie tears up his train ticket and goes to work trying to get his father out of jail. What's his plan? Hint

He plans to dress as a woman to distract the guards.
He plans to smuggle escape tools to his father in a loaf of bread.
He plans to dig his father out.
He plans to steal the keys when the sheriff is sleeping.

8. Willie's plan frees his father for less than two minutes and earns him a pistol-whipping for his trouble. Willie gets loaded upside down into the car and hauled off to the hospital; Bill punches out the sheriff for abusing his son, and walks back into his cell. And now comes the dramatic climax -- the cyclone -- and the stunt to end all Keaton stunts -- the falling wall. Why is Willie just standing there in front of the building? Hint

He is stunned when a man jumps out a window and lands on the bed he is hiding under.
He stops to pick up a penny on the ground.
He stops to watch a car get blown down the street backward by its convertible roof.
He stops to roll a cigarette.

9. As Willie struggles to stay safe in the storm, he spots Kitty in peril. Where is she? Hint

She's clinging to the wreckage of the King.
She's washing by in the river.
She's on the roof of a car that's floating by.
She's clinging to a house that's floating down the river.

10. Having rescued his girl, Willie now rescues his father -- about to drown when the jail washed into the river -- and his girl's father, who is clinging to the wreckage of the King. Just as everybody looks ready for their Happily Ever After, Willie grabs a life preserver and leaps into the river. Why? Hint

To rescue his hat
To rescue the cat
To rescue a preacher
To rescue the first mate


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. The film opens with a rivalry between the old steamboat, Stonewall Jackson, and the new King -- owned by J.J. King (Tom McGuire), who seems to own most of the town. But Steamboat Bill has hopes for his old tub, since his son, who he hasn't seen since infancy, is coming to visit. William, Jr. telegrams that Dad should know him by his white carnation. But young Willie's plan goes awry before we even meet him. Why?

Answer: It's Mother's Day and just about all the men are wearing white carnations.

Willie's plan goes doubly awry as he loses his own carnation.

Big, burly Bill is thrilled at the idea of seeing Willie all grown up. "I'll bet he's bigger'n me," he grins to his first (and only) mate. But Bill is in for some disappointments on more than one score.

Bill Sr. is played by Ernest Torrence, a towering 6'4" actor from Scotland, who made it unscathed through the transition to sound, only to have his life cut short in 1933 from complications of emergency surgery.
2. Since Willie's plan to be identified by the white carnation goes awry, his beefy he-man of a father doesn't recognize him at first. In fact, when Bill first sees the foppish little fellow with the beret and the ukulele, he rolls his eyes and seems relieved that this character isn't his son. But soon he learns the awful truth -- and sees something even more horrifying to his unbelieving eyes. What does Willie do that so shocks his father?

Answer: He dances gaily while playing his ukulele.

Bill's horror when he realizes that the tiny dandy is his son amuses his first mate enormously. Bill warns him, "If you say what you're thinking I'll strangle you!" But Willie's dance wasn't as inexplicable as it seemed to his father. He had only been trying to comfort a crying baby.

Keaton himself was an accomplished ukulele player.
3. Of course, Steamboat Bill takes his coxcomb of a son for an extreme makeover. Now it's Bill's plans that go awry, as events seem to conspire against him. He succeeds at getting rid of the dainty mustache, but a gust of wind blows away the hat he'd selected for Willie. What derails his attempts to dress his son in proper clothes?

Answer: Willie's school sweetheart intervenes and picks his clothes out for him.

Willie encounters Kitty (Marion Byron) at the barber shop. When she sees Willie at the clothing store she rushes in and gets him outfitted in a jaunty uniform, totally unfit for service aboard the dilapidated Stonewall Jackson. As Bill watches his effete son approach, his first mate hands him a pistol and tells him, "No jury would convict you."
4. Willie's first moments aboard the Stonewall Jackson are fraught with peril. He bangs himself up quite a bit and nearly falls overboard. Then he spots Kitty aboard the King. The young lovers rush to greet each other, but their fathers intervene. This leads to a shoving match between Bill and one of King's men which almost gets Willie dunked in the river. How does Bill get rid of King's man?

Answer: He makes Willie's hand into a fist and uses it to punch King's man.

The whole shoving match starts when King's man shoves Buster off the King and onto the Stonewall Jackson. Bill, outraged at seeing his son manhandled, rushes down and shoves Willie back aboard the King. Back and forth poor Willie goes, until he tumbles and drags King's man with him.
5. Bill brings his son into the engine room to show him how to run the boat, but Willie bungles around and infuriates his father. But then suddenly he earns his father's praise. What does Willie do that so pleases his father?

Answer: He accidentally knocks King into the river.

Willie accidentally starts the boat up twice, bumping into the King and knocking the passengers off their feet -- and King into the river. When Bill sees this he laughs and gives his son a manly hug, along with a chew of tobacco which the hapless Willie accidentally swallows.

We only see the cat briefly, later, when the mate appears on deck to toss it aside for the night. Willie has yet to fight back against anybody. It's Bill who gets pugnacious when Willie is treated roughly at anybody else's hands.
6. Night falls, and Willie is determined to sneak off the Stonewall Jackson onto the King to see Kitty. Does he manage to board the King?

Answer: Yes

Willie climbs aboard and manages to sneak through a door, but in spite of his best efforts -- which leave him, Kitty's father, and one of King's men drenched in the river -- Willie never gets to his romantic rendezvous. But his father sees him climbing aboard the King and is fed up. He's sending his son back to Boston.
7. Rejected by both his father (who gave him a train ticket back to Boston) and his girl (who thinks he stood her up), a forlorn Willie packs his bag and begins heading back to the train station. But he spots Bill Sr. being hauled off to jail for getting into a scuffle with King. Willie tears up his train ticket and goes to work trying to get his father out of jail. What's his plan?

Answer: He plans to smuggle escape tools to his father in a loaf of bread.

It's really unfair that Bill gets locked up, since he had only confronted King and torn up a notice condemning the Stonewall Jackson. King threw a rock at Bill, breaking a window. But King has money and connections, so it's Bill who gets hauled off. And the dancing fingers routine Willie does to try to convey to Bill the purpose of the bread loaf is one of the most striking and memorable bits in the film.

The close-up shot of Willie handling the money and ticket was shot with a hand double; you can spot the intact right index fingertip and know those aren't Keaton's hands.
8. Willie's plan frees his father for less than two minutes and earns him a pistol-whipping for his trouble. Willie gets loaded upside down into the car and hauled off to the hospital; Bill punches out the sheriff for abusing his son, and walks back into his cell. And now comes the dramatic climax -- the cyclone -- and the stunt to end all Keaton stunts -- the falling wall. Why is Willie just standing there in front of the building?

Answer: He is stunned when a man jumps out a window and lands on the bed he is hiding under.

Willie and his bed are blown down the street. When the bed stops briefly in front of the building, Willie rolls underneath, only to be stunned as a man went leaping from the open upstairs window onto Willie's bed. The bed blows away in the storm, and Willie staggers to his feet. The wall comes crashing down, leaving Willie standing in the open upstairs window.

The wall was a real wall of a real house; Keaton's set designer, Fred Gabourie, and his team had cut it loose from the house and hinged it at the bottom. Keaton's marks were two nails driven into the ground to plant his heels on. He had inches to spare on each side. His credited director was off in a corner, praying. Most of his crew refused to watch. His cameraman cranked with his eyes closed. And Keaton, who had just been told the day before that he was losing his studio, later recalled standing beneath that two-ton wall as it came down and not caring if it crushed him or not.

Keaton follows up the crashing wall with a scene in a wrecked theater that echoed events from his childhood in vaudeville, including getting scared senseless by a seemingly incarnate ventriloquist's dummy.
9. As Willie struggles to stay safe in the storm, he spots Kitty in peril. Where is she?

Answer: She's clinging to a house that's floating down the river.

Willie uses an anchor as a grappling hook to snag the house as it's floating past. He crosses on the rope, grabs Kitty (who nearly strangles him with her embraces), and starts back with her. They fall into the river, but Willie manages to get both of them onto the Stonewall Jackson safely.

Since 16-year-old Marion Byron, who played Kitty, couldn't swim, Keaton used his sister, Louise, as a stunt double in the water scenes. The water was cold, and the crew often fished the Keaton siblings out of the river to warm them with blankets and brandy.
10. Having rescued his girl, Willie now rescues his father -- about to drown when the jail washed into the river -- and his girl's father, who is clinging to the wreckage of the King. Just as everybody looks ready for their Happily Ever After, Willie grabs a life preserver and leaps into the river. Why?

Answer: To rescue a preacher

Everybody is reconciled, and the preacher is there. It's time for a wedding!

Keaton had originally planned a flood for his finale, but due to a deadly flood on the Mississippi, Keaton's producers insisted that the cataclysm be changed. Keaton chose a cyclone -- renting six enormous and powerful wind machines to blow him about -- and managed to keep many of his flood gags by transferring them to the river.
Source: Author ubermom

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