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The time is the 1890s. Captain Sam (Henry Travers), owner of the showboat River Queen, travels along the Mississippi River bringing honest entertainment to each town. At a stop in Ironville, he meets Crawford (Alan Curtis), Bonita (Rita Johnson), and Bailey (Joe Sawyer), who are wanted by the local sheriff. Against the advice of his daughter Caroline (Lois Collier), his lead actor Dexter Broadhurst (Bud Abbott), and his chief roustabout Sebastian Dinwiddle (Lou Costello), the Captain joins them for a card game at a local gambling house.The Captain is plied with alcohol until he is intoxicated and gets involved in a crooked card game where he loses controlling interest in the show boat to Bonita and Crawford. They turn the showboat into a floating gambling casino with every game rigged in their favor. Dexter and Sebastian help the captain regain ownership of his vessel and oust the unwanted criminals.