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Show Boat (1936)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Musical  |  17 May 1936 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 2,041 users  
Reviews: 54 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.



, (stage play), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Winninger ...
Helen Westley ...
Queenie Smith ...
Sammy White ...
Donald Cook ...
Francis X. Mahoney ...
Rubber Face
Sunnie O'Dea ...
Arthur Hohl ...


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


Here Comes the Grand and Glorious "Show Boat" (version of 1936) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 May 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Edna Ferber's Show Boat  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Noiseless Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"Ah Still Suits Me" was written especially for the film to give Paul Robeson a larger role. See more »


As Ellie May is applying cold cream on her face, the amount she puts on changes from shot to shot. See more »


Gaylord Ravenal: [singing] Who cares if my boat goes upstream? Or if the gale bids me go with the river's flow? I drift along with my fancy; sometimes I thank my lucky stars my heart is free...
Frank: [as Ellie looks admiringly after Gaylord] What are you lookin' at?
Ellie May Chipley: Bet he's some aristocrat.
Frank: Yeah? Look at the cracks in his shoes.
Gaylord Ravenal: [singing] ... and other times I wonder, where's the mate for me?
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 »


Featured in Out of My Dreams: Oscar Hammerstein II (2012) See more »


(1927) (uncredited)
(From Act I Finale)
Music by Jerome Kern
Danced by levee workers outside church
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Wonderful Musical!
19 June 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This movie is a wonderful stage-to-screen musical film. It stuck to the original musical play and had wonderful stars. Irene Dunne as the young innocent Magnolia Hawks, Allan Jones as the charming gambler Gaylord Ravenal, Charles Winninger as Cap'n Andy Hawks, Paul Robenson as Joe, and Helen Morgan, in the role she originated on stage, as Julie LaVerne. This film is a musical drama with comedy and racial references. This film is a great musical about racial differences and the reactions of people, back then, with different races. That is what makes this film a landmark musical and also one of AFI's 100 Years of Musicals and was #24 out of 25 musicals. This version of "Show Boat" is known to be the best movie version of all three movie versions. The 1929 version was not done very well because it was a very early talkie and the numbers weren't heard correctly. The 1951 version was much too sanitized and it took out the value of the whole show. "Show Boat" is a very entertaining and beautiful film.

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