A historical documentary based on the rum runner shoot out of 1929 will be filmed later this year in Newport and across Rhode Island, and will feature the 1920’s Newport Rum Runner “Black Duck”.
The dramatized documentary film centers around the life and exploits of Charles Travers who, at age 23, was captain of the Black Duck rum runner in 1929 when it was involved in an infamous shoot-out with the U.S. Coast Guard off Newport Harbor, according to an announcement provided to What’sUpNewp on Monday. The incident set off public outrage and protests across the country when it became known that the rum runners were unarmed and had essentially been ambushed on a foggy December night by a rogue U.S. Coast Guard captain.
Research is underway and re-enactment scenes will be shot this winter in Rhode Island. It is being distributed by the British documentary specialists Starline Entertainment (www.starlinecontent.com) and will be offered to PBS.
Paul Madden will direct the film with local producers John and Patricia Cahill Taft, who restored the classic motor yacht 1929 ELCO Rum Runner II that is a fixture in Newport harbor. Paul Madden has written and directed several films and owned and restored Beechwood Mansion in the 1980’s. Together with URI’s Theater and History departments, he founded The Beechwood Theatre Company that entertained tourists for many years with theatrical mansion tours.
“We will be covering the whole spectrum of that tumultuous period in Newport between the World Wars. This area was not only a center for rum running but was also highly disputed turf between the Prohibition gangs from New York, Boston, and Providence, “ Paul Madden stated in a press release on Monday. “Our research shows that fishermen, factory workers, and all the locals basically supported and protected the rum runners whose generosity helped them survive in hard economic times.”
“We will not only present historic archive film and photos, we will be recreating the main dramatic elements of the story,” commented John Taft in the release. “We plan to re-stage the night-time shootout where the ambush actually happened with authentic period boats, local actors, and plenty of action.” The producers are already scouting the locations for filming dramatic recreations for the film that include Ft Adams, Fort Wetherill, former speakeasies, historic courtrooms, salt-water farms and Newport mansions.
The producers will donate all revenues earned by the film to a Newport charitable historic-preservation foundation, and they are currently talking to several candidates.