Adaptation of the Broadway musical. Magnolia Hawks is the lovely but protected, and thus very naive, daughter of Cap'n Andy Hawks, the genial proprietor of a show boat that cruises the Missisippi, and his nagging wife, Parthy. She is best friends with the show boat's star, Julie LaVerne, but Julie and her husband Steve are forced to leave when it is revealed that Julie has "Negro" blood in her, thereby breaking the state law by being married to the white Steve. Magnolia replaces Julie as the show boat's female star, and the show's new male star is the suave gambler Gaylord Ravenal. "Nola" and Gaylord fall in love and marry against Parthy's wishes. They and their young daughter lead the high life when Gaylord is lucky in gambling, but live like dirt when he's unlucky. During one such unlucky streak, a broken Gaylord leaves Nola, and she is forced to start over by returning to the stage. Like Old Man River, as the famous song from this show goes, she just keeps rollin' along. Written by
Until 2014, the film was not officially released on a U.S. DVD, although the 1951 Technicolor remake had been available in that format since its early years. See more »
When Ravenal first meets Magnolia, just after he sings "Where's The Mate For Me?", she mentions that she plays the piano. He asks, "Was that you I heard just now?", but there is no indication in the film that he actually has heard her. This is probably because part of the scene may have been edited out before the film's release. In the original show, Ravenal sings the first verse of "Where's The Mate For Me?", and then hears Magnolia practicing offstage. Then he goes on to sing a part of the song which is not included in the film. Immediately afterwards, his first conversation with Magnolia takes place, and so, in the stage version, the audience knows exactly when he heard her practicing. See more »
For the opening credits, we see a cardboard cutout display of a show boat parade, with cutout paper townspeople watching it, on a moving turntable. The parade revolves past the camera carrying cardboard banners on which are printed the title and other credits to the film. Most of the parade figures are simply figures, but among them we can discern cutouts of Paul Robeson and Helen Morgan (the appearance of these figures does not coincide with the appearance of their names onscreen). In the background can be seen the shadows of a paddlewheel and a riverboat. See more »
There are a couple of famous, great songs in the opening 15 minutes of this film that hooked me in to watch the entire two-hour film.
I don't think the two-hour production ever wound up matching those early minutes but I still enjoyed it enough to give it "8 stars." Also, I still think it's better than the more-famous 1951 color re-make. It's a shame this 1936 film is not available on DVD, at least at this point here in the U.S.
Funny, but I did not particularly care for the two leading actors voices - Irene Dunne and Allan Jones. They are just two high-pitched for my tastes. I preferred the deep voice of Paul Robeson and was pleasantly surprised how well Hatie McDaniel sang.
The fun part of the film, however, wasn't the music but the story. It's pretty entertaining and a key reason for that was Charles Winniger, who keeps it alive with good humor. All the characters, except for Helen Westley's, are "good guys." and nice to follow. The story has a good mixture of drama, humor, sadness, sentimentality and song.
Also, there is some nice closeup photography with some great facial expressions. Some just make you laugh right out loud.
I am in agreement with those who think "Show Boat" was the best-ever and very good feel-good film.
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