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Old Bones of the River

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Old Bones of the River
Directed byMarcel Varnel
Written byMarriott Edgar
Val Guest
J.O.C. Orton
StarringWill Hay
Graham Moffatt
Moore Marriott
CinematographyArthur Crabtree
Edited byR.E. Dearing
Alfred Roome
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors
Release date
December 1938
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Old Bones of the River is a comedy film released in 1938 starring British actor Will Hay with Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt and directed by Marcel Varnel, based on the characters created by Edgar Wallace. The film is a spoof of the 1935 movie Sanders of the River.[1][2]


Hay plays Professor Benjamin Tibbetts, representative of the Teaching & Welfare Institution for the Reformation of Pagans (otherwise known as T.W.I.R.P for short), and dedicated to spreading education amongst the natives of colonial Africa. Professor Tibbetts is the uncle of Wallace's character Lt Tibbetts, known as "Bones", so the Professor is referred to as "Old Bones".

As he arrives (still trying to learn the native language via recordings), Professor Tibbetts is tricked into sneaking a gin still into the country by Prince M'Bapi, half-brother of Bosambo, chief of the Ochori tribe. The steamer that brings him takes Commissioner Sanders on leave, with Captain Hamilton taking over his duties.

Later, Tibbetts makes his way to Kombooli High, where his students wear Eton collars alongside their native garb. Tibbetts dons a mortarboard but wears safari shorts under his gown owing to the heat.

When Hamilton falls ill with a dose of malaria, Tibbetts is forced to take over his duties, which include collecting the taxes. Travelling upriver by canoe, he finds Sanders' paddlesteamer the Zaire, operated by Harbottle (Moore Marriott) and Albert (Graham Moffatt).

M'Bapi leads a revolt against Bosambo, and the threesome rescue a baby from death by sacrifice.



  1. ^ Collinson, Gavin. "Old Bones of the River (1938)". BFI Screenonline. British Film Institute. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  2. ^ British Films of the 30s, 40s and 50s - www.britishpictures.com

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Old Bones of the River
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