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Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
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
HEAR Glorious New Music and Songs by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II: "Gallivantin' Around", "Ah Still Suits Me", "I Have The Room Above Her", plus "Make Believe", "Ol' Man River", "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man of Mine". See more »
The scenes of the townspeople running toward the dock to greet the arrival of the show boat incorporate footage from the 1929 part-talkie film version. The moment in which this footage is used is very noticeable: for a few seconds, the image looks "speeded up", the way silent films used to look when shown on sound film projectors. See more »
When Joe begins to sing "Ol' Man River" he picks up a board and begins to whittle it. He slices off two pieces and then the camera switches to an oblique shot. But now the board is whittled to a slender rod. See more »
Did you understand the moral of the play, my dear?
Oh,sure, ma. Did you see how he kissed her?
Yes! I hardly thought that was in the best of taste!
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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 »
James Whale's outstanding 1936 film version of "Show Boat" is indeed a musical film that others must aspire to.His slick direction brings out not only the pathos of the piece,but the humor and dramatic chemistry as well.As with most screen adaptations of Broadway musicals there are some missing songs.Most sorely missed is Ravanal's stirring 'Till Good Luck Comes My Way" and Queenie's haunting "Misery's Comin Around",but even with these omissions its a great film.
Hammerstein's script is full of meaning and power.The cast is up for the chalanging subject matter. Original broadway cast members Charles Winninger as Capn Andy and Helen Morgan as Julie along with the London Joe,the legendary Paul Robeson, win best of film honors. Winninger's Andy is full of comedic humor well balanced with quiet tenderness.Morgan as Julie,although past her prime still commands the stage emotionally as the tragic Julie, and Robeson gives us a well layered performance as the easy going,but wise Joe. His "Old Man River" still sends chills down one's spine.
The rest of the cast is no less polished. Allan Jones and Irene Dunne as the central figures,Ravanal and Nola create a wondeful bond. their chemistry,both vocal and emotional is right on the mark.Hattie McDaniel is a delightful Queenie and shines in her partnership with Robeson (particularly in their duet,'Ah Still Suits Me").
The themes of Hammersteins' script still are valid today,Racisim,Spousal abandonment,Bigotry and Financial Hardship. This is what makes this film a classic.It still has something to say in today's so called "advanced" society.
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