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 songs "Why Do I Love You?", as sung by Irene Dunne and Allan Jones and the chorus "Happy The Day" (from the Act I Finale) were filmed but deleted before release, because it was felt that the movie was too long. Although "Queenie's Ballyhoo' had been sung in the prologue to the 1929 film version by Tess Gardella', it was not intended to be in the 1936 film version, where it would have had to be sung by Hattie McDaniel. "Life Upon The Wicked Stage" was also never filmed, and contrary to some claims, would not have been sung by Queenie Smith and Sammy White, but by Queenie Smith and a women's chorus. (Only the 1951 film version had Ellie - played by Marge Champion- and Frank - played by Gower Champion - singing the song.) The song "Why Do I Love You?" was to be sung in the scene in which Magnolia and Ravenal are riding in an automobile with their baby daughter, Kim. The rest of the scene remains in the film. See more »
During the scene in which Cap'n Andy introduces his actors to the crowd, a young woman looks off to the side absent-mindedly as the captain begins to introduce Ellie. As soon as he mentions Ellie's name, the young woman seems to snap to attention and automatically smiles broadly and gives out a loud cheer along with the rest of the crowd. See more »
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...
[as Ellie looks admiringly after Gaylord]
What are you lookin' at?
Ellie May Chipley:
Bet he's some aristocrat.
Yeah? Look at the cracks in his shoes.
... and other times I wonder, where's the mate for me?
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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 »
The BEST version ever of the musical. It follows a show boat and the family that runs it through three generations concentrating on Magnolia (Irene Dunne) and her husband Ravenel (Allen Jones).
Some people have complained that Dunne's high-pitched singing voice is TOO high-pitched...they're not completely wrong. Still she sings in tune and her "Make Believe" duet with Jones is just great. Actually all the songs are great and belted out by the cast--highlights are "Can't Help Lovin' That Man", "Bill" and the great Paul Robeson doing "Old Man River". The movie also is very faithful to the stage play--it has almost all the songs and manages to fit a 3 hour play into a 2 hour film. The last section with Kim seems rushed but that's understandable.
Dunne is just great as Magnolia--very sweet and lovable. The only strange point is her dancing to "Can't Help..."--the dress is way too constricting and she has a strange look on her face. Jones is wooden but but has a wonderful singing voice. Helen Morgan was taken from the stage show to recreate Julie. She stops the movie TWICE with "Can't Help..." and "Bill". She has a beautiful voice and is a superb actress. Her character disappears completely halfway through...but it's the same in the stage play. In the book her character ends up working in a house of prostitution--there was NO way they could have gotten that on the screen back in 1936! Everybody else is great and the movie moves very quickly.
It's much better than the 1950s version. The 50s version IS in color and opens with a great number...but most of the singing is overdubbed, the story is brutally cut down and "Can't Help..." is thrown away!
This has it all over that one. Also director James Whale reportedly liked this one above all his other films--he did a few other little films like "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein"! Beautiful songs, some truly lovely photography (the moonlight scenes on top of the showboat are dreamlike) and a quick story. Just simply one of the great Hollywood musicals. A must see!
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