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.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Charles Winninger ...
...
Joe
...
Helen Westley ...
Queenie Smith ...
Sammy White ...
Donald Cook ...
...
Francis X. Mahoney ...
Rubber Face
...
Sunnie O'Dea ...
Arthur Hohl ...
...
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Storyline

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 Tommy Peter

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The grandest show you'll ever know See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 May 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Edna Ferber's Show Boat  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Noiseless Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Flora Finch (Hard-of-Hearing Woman), George Hackathorne (YMCA Worker), Theodore Lorch (Simon Legree) and Max Wagner (Soldier) were filmed in scenes which were cut before the movie's release. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Julie: [to Magnolia] Once a girl like you starts to love a man, she don't stop so easy.
Magnolia: Well, couldn't you stop loving Steve if he treated you mean?
Julie: No, honey, no matter what he did.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits for this film say "A James Whale Production" although Whale did not produce the film, while the film's posters say "A Carl Laemmle, Jr. Production", and Laemmle did produce the film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed! (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Make Believe
(1927) (uncredited)
Music by Jerome Kern
Orchestral reprise during the closing credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Excellent
1 May 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The BEST version ever of the musical. It follows a show boat and the family that runs it through three generations concentrating on Magnolia (Irene Dunne) and her husband Ravenel (Allen Jones).

Some people have complained that Dunne's high-pitched singing voice is TOO high-pitched...they're not completely wrong. Still she sings in tune and her "Make Believe" duet with Jones is just great. Actually all the songs are great and belted out by the cast--highlights are "Can't Help Lovin' That Man", "Bill" and the great Paul Robeson doing "Old Man River". The movie also is very faithful to the stage play--it has almost all the songs and manages to fit a 3 hour play into a 2 hour film. The last section with Kim seems rushed but that's understandable.

Dunne is just great as Magnolia--very sweet and lovable. The only strange point is her dancing to "Can't Help..."--the dress is way too constricting and she has a strange look on her face. Jones is wooden but but has a wonderful singing voice. Helen Morgan was taken from the stage show to recreate Julie. She stops the movie TWICE with "Can't Help..." and "Bill". She has a beautiful voice and is a superb actress. Her character disappears completely halfway through...but it's the same in the stage play. In the book her character ends up working in a house of prostitution--there was NO way they could have gotten that on the screen back in 1936! Everybody else is great and the movie moves very quickly.

It's much better than the 1950s version. The 50s version IS in color and opens with a great number...but most of the singing is overdubbed, the story is brutally cut down and "Can't Help..." is thrown away!

This has it all over that one. Also director James Whale reportedly liked this one above all his other films--he did a few other little films like "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein"! Beautiful songs, some truly lovely photography (the moonlight scenes on top of the showboat are dreamlike) and a quick story. Just simply one of the great Hollywood musicals. A must see!


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