Up 1,116 this week

Show Boat (1936)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Musical  |  17 May 1936 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 2,043 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 »
0Check in

TV Spotlight: The Top 10 Episodes of "The Walking Dead"

We've curated a list of the top 10 episodes of "The Walking Dead" according to the IMDb user ratings.

Read More

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 21 titles
created 05 Jan 2013
a list of 21 titles
created 07 Feb 2013
a list of 25 titles
created 08 Apr 2013
a list of 44 titles
created 07 Jul 2013
a list of 25 titles
created 11 months ago

Related Items

Search for "Show Boat" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Show Boat (1936)

Show Boat (1936) on IMDb 7.7/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Show Boat.

User Polls

1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Show Boat (1929)
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A mostly silent version of Edna Ferber's original novel, with some songs from the musical as a last-minute addition

Directors: Harry A. Pollard, Arch Heath
Stars: Laura La Plante, Joseph Schildkraut, Emily Fitzroy
Certificate: Passed Adventure | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Despotic King Louis XIV discovers he has a twin brother who has grown up under the tutelage of his foster father, the patriotic musketeer D'Artagnan.

Director: James Whale
Stars: Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett, Warren William
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The author of a scandalously racy best-selling book tries to hide her celebrity from her provincial small town neighbors who'd be scandalized if they knew.

Director: Richard Boleslawski
Stars: Irene Dunne, Melvyn Douglas, Thomas Mitchell
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A maid's dreams come true - except they are not quite what she expected.

Director: James Whale
Stars: Lew Ayres, Mae Clarke, Una Merkel
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A seaplane departs for China. On board are a nurse escaping a loveless marriage to do work with refugees, a woman hoping to surprise her estranged son, a wealthy heiress trying to distance ... See full summary »

Director: James Whale
Stars: Madge Evans, John Boles, Bruce Cabot
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A prosecutor trying a case where a husband shot his adulterous wife begins to suspect that his own wife is having an affair, and starts to have his own thoughts about killing her.

Director: James Whale
Stars: Warren William, Gail Patrick, Constance Moore
Certificate: Passed Musical | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Lucille Ball accepts a cadet's invitation to a military academy's senior prom in order to boost her career.

Director: Edward Buzzell
Stars: Lucille Ball, William Gaxton, Virginia Weidler
San Francisco (1936)
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A Barbary Coast saloonkeeper and a Nob Hill impresario are rivals for the affections of a beautiful singer, both personally and professionally in 1906 San Francisco.

Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Stars: Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy
Carousel (1956)
Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Billy Bigelow has been dead for fifteen years, and now outside the pearly gates, he long waived his right to go back to Earth for a day. But he has heard that there is a problem with his ... See full summary »

Director: Henry King
Stars: Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, Cameron Mitchell
Journey's End (1930)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

In France, 1917, an alcoholic captain is afraid that his new replacement, his sweetheart's brother, will betray his downfall.

Director: James Whale
Stars: Colin Clive, Ian Maclaren, David Manners
Ann Vickers (1933)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A prison reformer and a controversial judge fall in love and have a child out of wedlock.

Director: John Cromwell
Stars: Irene Dunne, Walter Huston, Conrad Nagel
The Road Back (1937)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

After World War I, a group of former German soldiers try to adjust to civilian life.

Director: James Whale
Stars: John 'Dusty' King, Richard Cromwell, Slim Summerville


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


HEAR Glorious New Music and Songs by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II: "Gallivantin' Around", "Ah Still Suits Me", "I Have The Room Above Her", plus "Make Believe", "Ol' Man River", "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man of Mine". 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?


The cost of production for the movie was more than Universal Studios could afford. Head of the studio, Carl Laemmle Jr., had to borrow money to finish the picture and to keep the studio afloat. When he reneged on an agreement to repay the loan, Universal Studios was taken over by a New York City lending institution. Laemmle Jr. lost his position at the studio his father had started and never again worked in Hollywood. See more »


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


Joe: I just shell them peas.
Queenie: You ain't pickin' them up.
Joe: No, but I could've if you didn't. I could do a lotta things if it was necessary.
Queenie: Then why don't you?
Joe: It ain't necessary.
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 »


Referenced in Soap: Episode #2.4 (1978) See more »


Mis'ry's Comin' Round
(1927) (uncredited)
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Fragment sung by workers on levee
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

By Far, the best "Show Boat" on film
1 October 2002 | by (Ottawa) – See all my reviews

What an exquisite and enjoyable film! Along with "The Great Garrick"(1937), "The Old Dark House"(1932) and "The Bride of Frankenstein"(1935), "Show Boat" is one of James Whale's loveliest and most enduring classics. By far, the best "Show Boat" ever captured on film. The plush 1951 MGM remake is a cartoon by comparison.

Like Whale's "The Great Garrick," the film is a delicate, self-reflexive study about the entrancing possibilities of the theater, or for that matter acting. Acting as a metaphor for life. One of delights of "Show Boat" is that it does not avoid depicting either the joy of make-belief (the basis of the theater) or its inevitable heartbreak. In this regard, it invites comparison to Jean Renoir's exquisite "French Cancan"(1955), another back stage musical that understands, accepts, and celebrates the difficulties and ultimately the magic of the theater.

In addition to being an honest and frank celebration of miscegenation, "Show Boat" is also a genuinely felt evocation of a stage actress (wonderfully played by Irene Dunne in one of her greatest performances ever), who goes from a stagestruck teen to a mature woman seriously dealing with the consequences of a marriage to a gambler(played by the occasionally bland Allan Jones).

Paul Robeson's extraordinary, melodious rendition of "Ol' Man River" is the highlight of the film, occasioning in great and inventive montage sequence.

A great film.

32 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Question about Camera Work in 'Old Man River' blacksunday52
Can anyone clarify what happened to Julie afterwards? tonkagarfield
Irene Dunne in 1936 Show Boat JessQ
Disappointed IreneEDevine
Hattie !! tarafan-1
Showboat 1936 Film gordon-blackburn
Discuss Show Boat (1936) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: