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Show Boat (1936)

 -  Comedy | Drama | Musical  -  17 May 1936 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,890 users  
Reviews: 52 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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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:

Sensation of 1936! 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
See  »
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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

At the end of "Ol' Man River", Joe smiles while his and the male chorus's voices linger for about three seconds on the soundtrack. See more »

Quotes

Rubber Face: [the actors are performing the play "The Parson's Bride" on the show boat. Rubber Face, the prop and sound effects man, mistakenly moos like a cow instead of doing a doorbell sound effect] Moo!
Magnolia: [in character as Miss Lucy] Ah, there's the bell. It must be Parson Brown at last!
Gaylord Ravenal: [enters in character as Parson Brown] Good evening, Miss Lucy! I was absorbed in meditation and did not realize night had fallen.
Magnolia: The days are growing shorter, Hamilton, but they're long when one is waiting!
Gaylord Ravenal: As I came across ...
[...]
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 Community: Romantic Expressionism (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Cakewalk
(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

 
Excellent Movie. The best musical ever made by Hollywood.
25 July 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Paul Robeson and chorus rendition of Old Man River has to be without a doubt the greatest single rendition of one song in the history of Hollywood musicals. And what makes it even more impressive is that the number was directed by a director who had made his reputation directing monster movies. Of course, the name of the director was the iconic James Whale. So remarkable was his career that in 1998 a movie was made about him. Great song, great director, great performers, great everything, it all came together in the production of that song.

After watching a myriad of current Hollywood special effects potboilers I needed to recover so I watched the 1936 movie Show Boat. Oh my, how movies have changed. This movie has to be the best musical Hollywood ever produced, and for a potboiler factory like Hollywood, that's saying a lot. That Hollywood was able to put together such a great movie is proof that there was a time when Hollywood could produce a commercially viable product that did not sacrifice, or rather completely trash, artistic quality. If Hollywood tried to make this musical today, it would be a laughable joke, a fiasco, a travesty, an embarrassment, and why? Not because of the lack of talented performers because they are out there, and not because of the lack of talented musical arrangers and choreographers, because they're out there, but because the production crew itself would want to "modernize" the story and render it almost unrecognizable from the original when in fact the story itself is timeless. Could Hollywood recreate the "Ol' Man River" number? The answer is YES, but it won't happen and that's too bad because the talent is out there but will never be showcased. But there's always the 1936 version ... the best musical ever made by Hollywood.

The 1936 movie Show Boat is arguably the finest musical ever produced by Hollywood. Not only does the movie contain an impressive array of wonderful and entertaining musical numbers, the acting is is excellent and the story compelling. All the performers are impressive. Irene Dunne, Helen Morgan, Alan Jones, Charles Winninger, Hattie McDaniel, Sammy White and all the others are excellent. But especially impressive is Paul Robeson, particularly Robeson's classic rendition of "Ol' Man River." Although cast in a supporting role, Robeson's presence nonetheless dominates the movie. "Show Boat" is definitely worth watching, and although the movie candidly deals with serious social issues, it's still a movie for the entire family.

A few further comments about the scene with Paul Robeson singing "Ol' Man River." This version of "Ol' Man River" has to be one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, single musical piece ever filmed by a Hollywood studio. What's also remarkable is that the movie was produced and directed by James Whale, a former British POW with no previous experience in making movie musicals. It just proves that when given the chance and the encouragement people can excel and do great things.


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Warfield or Robeson- whose rendition do you like better? TheLittleSongbird
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