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
Until 2014, the film was not officially released on a U.S. DVD, although the 1951 Technicolor remake had been available in that format since its early years. 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 »
[first lines; the opening credits are halfway through and still being shown, when we hear the black chorus singing offscreen:]
Darkies all work while the white men play,/Loading up boats with the bales of cotton/ Gittin' no rest till de Judgement Day. /Git yourself a brand new gal, /A lovin' baby who's the apple of your eye,/ Coal Black Rose or High Brown Sal,/ They always bake the sparrer and the chickin pie!/ Darkies all work on the Mississippi,/Darkies all work while the white folks play/ ...
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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 »
I was too young to see this version until well after the 1951 one had fixed a certain standard in my brain. It took a TCM rerun to open my eyes. Mind you, I still like the 1951 production very well indeed, but there is a depth of story, song, and character in this one that makes it overall the better of the two (and the "best" of a larger lot).
First, you have Paul Robeson and Helen Morgan. Both are icons who needed no dubbing no matter where or when they sang standards like "Old Man River" and "Just My Bill." Then there is Hattie McDaniel in a role largely skipped in the 1951 movie. And a greater selection of minor songs prevails as well. Indeed, the inclusion of many black people who are missing from the later film give it a unique richness.
Black and white never looked so good.
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