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Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
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 »
At one point in the story, Cap'n Andy and Parthy discuss hiring a new leading man and leading lady. Just before Cap'n Andy says, "But where do we go from here? We can't give no more shows without a leading man !" he and Parthy are abruptly seen in a slightly different position. See more »
But this is Confederate money!
That's the kind they use in the hills, it's as good as yours, ain't it?
But this quarter - it don't ring!
Whaddaya want for two bits - sleigh bells?
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For the opening credits, we see a cardboard cutout display of a show boat parade, with cutout paper townspeople watching it, on a moving turntable. The parade revolves past the camera carrying cardboard banners on which are printed the title and other credits to the film. Most of the parade figures are simply figures, but among them we can discern cutouts of Paul Robeson and Helen Morgan (the appearance of these figures does not coincide with the appearance of their names onscreen). In the background can be seen the shadows of a paddlewheel and a riverboat. See more »
James Whale's outstanding 1936 film version of "Show Boat" is indeed a musical film that others must aspire to.His slick direction brings out not only the pathos of the piece,but the humor and dramatic chemistry as well.As with most screen adaptations of Broadway musicals there are some missing songs.Most sorely missed is Ravanal's stirring 'Till Good Luck Comes My Way" and Queenie's haunting "Misery's Comin Around",but even with these omissions its a great film.
Hammerstein's script is full of meaning and power.The cast is up for the chalanging subject matter. Original broadway cast members Charles Winninger as Capn Andy and Helen Morgan as Julie along with the London Joe,the legendary Paul Robeson, win best of film honors. Winninger's Andy is full of comedic humor well balanced with quiet tenderness.Morgan as Julie,although past her prime still commands the stage emotionally as the tragic Julie, and Robeson gives us a well layered performance as the easy going,but wise Joe. His "Old Man River" still sends chills down one's spine.
The rest of the cast is no less polished. Allan Jones and Irene Dunne as the central figures,Ravanal and Nola create a wondeful bond. their chemistry,both vocal and emotional is right on the mark.Hattie McDaniel is a delightful Queenie and shines in her partnership with Robeson (particularly in their duet,'Ah Still Suits Me").
The themes of Hammersteins' script still are valid today,Racisim,Spousal abandonment,Bigotry and Financial Hardship. This is what makes this film a classic.It still has something to say in today's so called "advanced" society.
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