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Show Boat (1936)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Musical  |  17 May 1936 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,961 users  
Reviews: 53 user | 24 critic

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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, (stage play), 2 more credits »
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Title: Show Boat (1936)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Charles Winninger ...
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Joe
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Helen Westley ...
Queenie Smith ...
Sammy White ...
Donald Cook ...
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Francis X. Mahoney ...
Rubber Face
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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:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Noiseless Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "Lux Radio Theatre" version of this film was broadcast on June 24, 1940, and starred Irene Dunne, Allan Jones and Charles Winninger from the film's cast. The radio version avoided all mention of racial issues by having "Ol' Man River" sung as a background choral number at the beginning, instead of as a number for Paul Robeson and male chorus. It also changed Julie from a mulatto illegally married to a white man to an illegal alien whose husband chose to be deported with her. See more »

Goofs

About five minutes in, Cap'n Andy Hawks is introducing Miss Ellie May Chipley, the toast of Cairo, Illinois. He mispronounces Cairo. His pronunciation is for the capital of Egypt. Cairo, IL is pronounced Kay'ro, with perhaps other local variants. But NEVER as the Egyptian capital. See more »

Quotes

Pete: [showing Julie's picture to the Sheriff] See that?
The Sheriff: Why that's Miss Julie LaVerne, ain't it?
Pete: Yeah, that's what she calls herself, ever since she got married to a white man!
The Sheriff: What d'ya mean?
Pete: Frank, come over here; I want you to hear this. You too, Ellie.
The Sheriff: Sit down and explain yourself. And you make sure you know what you're talkin' about.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Though this film version is an extremely faithful adaptation of the Kern-Hammerstein musical version of the novel (rather than the novel itself), and although the film retains all the major changes that Hammerstein made to the novel when adapting it for the stage, the on-screen and poster title for the film reads "Edna Ferber's 'Show Boat'" rather than "Kern and Hammerstein's 'Show Boat'". See more »


Soundtracks

Where's the Mate for Me?
(1927) (uncredited)
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Sung by Allan Jones
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A cinematic masterpiece and true to the Ferber epic
16 May 2002 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

This is not a musical. This is a film. James Whale's visual expressionism and the truly remarkable performances he coached from his actors is what makes SHOW BOAT a great movie. As an historical record, this SHOW BOAT is nearest to the Ferber novel as well as the Ziegfeld stage production, using several members of the original and / or London cast. The evocative tone of the film, bringing alive the seedy rural Mississippi River towns, coupled with the natural and subtle acting jobs, make this film real to the touch. Yes, MGM's production is more opulent, with more modern orchestrations and stronger vocals on the part of Gay and Magnolia. Even William Warfield is more polished than Paul Robeson. And that's the trouble. That performance belongs in an opera house. Universal's 1936 SHOW BOAT is musical realism. As for the cultural aspects, blackface happened. Get over it. So did rampant racism; and the misegenation aspects of the script are dealt with frankly and brutally. I know of precious few films of the thirties that were so bold in their statements regarding racial intolerance. And don't think Whale was oblivious to the fact that he was placing one infraction side-by-side with another. It is the perfect unmasking of the hypocrisy of racism - you can make yourself up to look like a nigger; but don't dare marry one or carry a drop of one's blood in your veins or let a real one on the same stage with a white actor.

Why is "Bill" so powerful? Listen to the second chorus. Victor Baravelle brings in high sustained strings. Whale cuts to the old charwomen halting in their work, stopping to listen, wiping away an unwanted tear with an apron.

SHOW BOAT 1936 pulls no punches. It's a masterpiece.


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