A mostly silent version of Edna Ferber's original novel, with some songs from the musical as a last-minute addition


, (uncredited)


(by), (continuity) | 4 more credits »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Show Boat (1936)
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Despite her mother's objections, the naive young daughter of a show boat captain is thrust into the limelight as the company's new leading lady.

Director: James Whale
Stars: Irene Dunne, Allan Jones, Charles Winninger
Rio Rita (1929)
Musical | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Capt. James Stewart pursues the bandit "The Kinkajou" over the Mexican border and falls in love with Rita. He suspects, that her brother is the bandit.

Director: Luther Reed
Stars: Bebe Daniels, John Boles, Bert Wheeler
The Cocoanuts (1929)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

During the Florida land boom, the Marx brothers run a hotel, auction off some land, thwart a jewel robbery, and generally act like themselves.

Directors: Robert Florey, Joseph Santley
Stars: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The Wolves baseball team gets steamed when they find they've been inherited by one K.C. Higgins, a suspected "fathead" who intends to take an active interest in running the team. But K.C. ... See full summary »

Director: Busby Berkeley
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams, Gene Kelly
Faithless (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Socialite Carol Morgan romps through the depression and her wealth while breaking up with Bill Wade and getting back together with him.

Director: Harry Beaumont
Stars: Tallulah Bankhead, Robert Montgomery, Hugh Herbert
Hallelujah (1929)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

In a juke joint, sharecropper Zeke falls for a beautiful dancer, Chick, but she's only setting him up for a rigged craps game. He loses $100, the money he got for the sale of his family's ... See full summary »

Director: King Vidor
Stars: Daniel L. Haynes, Nina Mae McKinney, William Fountaine
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Ginger Rogers and Dennis Morgan, serving on a sequestered jury during a murder trial, fall in love. She is divorced, he is married.

Director: Bretaigne Windust
Stars: Ginger Rogers, Dennis Morgan, Thelma Ritter
Biography | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Light bio-pic of American Broadway pioneer Jerome Kern, featuring renditions of the famous songs from his musical plays by contemporary stage artists, including a condensed production of ... See full summary »

Directors: Richard Whorf, Vincente Minnelli, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Robert Walker, Van Heflin, Lucille Bremer
June Bride (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A magazine's staff, including bickering ex-lovers Linda and Carey, cover an Indiana wedding, which goes slightly wrong...

Director: Bretaigne Windust
Stars: Bette Davis, Robert Montgomery, Fay Bainter
Applause (1929)
Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A burlesque star seeks to keep her convent-raised daughter away from her low-down life and abusive lover/stage manager.

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Stars: Helen Morgan, Joan Peers, Fuller Mellish Jr.
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The rise of a showgirl, Gloria Hughes, culminating in a Ziegfeld extravaganza "Glorifying the American Girl".

Director: Millard Webb
Stars: Mary Eaton, Eddie Cantor, Helen Morgan
So Big! (1932)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Selina lived well until her father Simeon died. Her aunts sold the estate and put her in a boarding school. As an adult she wants to be a teacher in farming country. She falls in love with ... See full summary »

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Dickie Moore


Complete credited cast:
Otis Harlan ...
Jack McDonald ...
Jane La Verne ...
Neely Edwards ...
Elise Bartlett ...
Stepin Fetchit ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jules Bledsoe ...
Tess Gardella ...
Queenie [prologue] (as Aunt Jemima)
Bettye Junod
Carl Laemmle ...
Himself [prologue]


The film begins with Magnolia, daughter of Captain Andy Hawks and his domineering wife Parthy, enjoying her childhood aboard her father's show boat. Parthy, irritated over the supposed influence of leading lady Julie (Magnolia's idol and best friend) fires her, despite her husband's objections. Many years later, Magnolia is a young woman and becomes a leading lady. Her leading man is Gaylord Ravenal, a riverboat gambler with whom she falls in love and elopes. But the sudden and unexpected death of Captain Andy forces the couple to leave the boat and move to Chicago rather than endure the disapproving Parthy, and Ravenal's gambling luck soon runs out. Then, Parthy announces she's coming to visit. Written by Albert Sanchez Moreno

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Universal's Motion Picture Triumph! See more »


Drama | Musical | Romance



Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 July 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Show-Boat  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(including prologue) | (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric System) (talking and singing sequences)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was the first film to use Foley effects (specially created sound effects) on its soundtrack. The technique was named after Jack Foley, who performed the necessary sound effects while watching the film on playback. The process is still used on all films made today, and the effects artists who create the needed effects (such as footsteps, performed in synch with the image) are known as Foley artists. See more »


When Nola is given the letter Gaylord has left for her telling her he is leaving her, she is shown holding and reading the letter with her right hand holding the letter near the top and her left hand near the bottom. In the next shot, her hands have changed positions. See more »


Joe [prologue]: [singing] You an' me,/ We sweat and strain,/ Body all achin' and wracked with pain!/ "Tote dat barge!/ Lift dat bale!"/ Git a little drunk,/ And yuh lands in jail!/ Ah gits weary/ An' sick o' tryin',/ Ah'm tired o' livin',/ An' scared o' dyin', / But Ol' Man River,/ He jes' keeps rollin' along!
See more »

Crazy Credits

All performers in the prologue are identified verbally. See more »


Version of Show Boat (1951) See more »


Why Do I Love You
(1927) (uncredited)
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
In the score during the overture
Sung by an unidentifed singer during the exit music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Pretty good when judged as a silent film...
21 November 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

...but frustrating if judged as a talkie. I use the term "talkie" in the loosest of terms, because very few talking passages survive. In a tragic reverse of what is the case of many dawn of sound era films, the video film elements for this movie largely remain and do so in good quality, and the talking and singing passages largely do not. For example, you can find CDs of the entire soundtrack of 1929's Gold Diggers of Broadway - minus a very little - but it is the film itself that no longer exists with the exception of two reels. We owe this to the durability of Vitaphone discs and to the throw-away attitude that the film industry had towards these early talking and part-talking experiments.

There is a prologue at the beginning of the film in which stars from the Ziegfeld production do numbers from the musical, and the video portion of that is lost. Then the first half of the film is largely silent with synchronized sound effects. The second half of the film was largely synchronized dialogue, but the audio portion has been largely lost. All that remains where there is both video and dialogue are two short scenes between romantic leads Laura LaPlante (as Magnolia) and Joseph Schildkraut (as Gaylord Ravenal). Notice that the film has Ms. LaPlante billed ahead of the now well-known Schildkraut. LaPlante was a big star at Universal at the time having starred in films such as "The Cat and the Canary".

This incarnation of "Show Boat" differs from the 1936 and 1951 versions in big ways besides just the technical aspects. For one, a large portion of this film is devoted to the disintegration of the Ravenal marriage after the couple leave the Show Boat. Also, Julie is only a passing figure in this film, and Captain Andy has a completely different fate than in the latter two films.

In spite of all the odd decisions - to put the musical numbers associated with Ziegfeld in as a prologue, and to make this musical a part-talkie with non-musical stars in the first place, the film made money for Universal, largely outside the big cities where people had not seen Ziegfeld's Broadway version. In short, this is an example of a film that was dated in technique as soon as it was made, but was rushed out the door in order to cash in on the dawn of sound in motion pictures.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss Show Boat (1929) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page