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
The first choice to play Ellie May Chipley in this film was Eva Puck, who had played that part in Show Boat's original broadway run opposite her husband Sammy White as Frank Schultz. However, by the time this film was made, Puck was divorced from White, casting White was given precedence over casting Puck, and Queenie Smith replaced Puck as Ellie May Chipley. See more »
During Paul Robson's soulful rendition of "Old Man River," the position of his body and head leaning against a pier post continues to change throughout the song between different shots. See more »
[showing Julie's picture to the Sheriff]
Why that's Miss Julie LaVerne, ain't it?
Yeah, that's what she calls herself, ever since she got married to a white man!
What d'ya mean?
Frank, come over here; I want you to hear this. You too, Ellie.
Sit down and explain yourself. And you make sure you know what you're talkin' about.
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The rights to this film were bought by M-G-M in 1942, so all prints shown on TV until the mid 1990's had the roaring lion logo at the beginning. However, despite having bought the rights, M-G-M retained Universal Pictures' spinning globe for the "The End: A Universal Picture" credit at the film's close. See more »
Excellent Movie. The best musical ever made by Hollywood.
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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