IMDb > Show Boat (1936)
Show Boat
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Show Boat (1936) More at IMDbPro »

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Up 23% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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Release Date:
17 May 1936 (USA) See more »
Here Comes the Grand and Glorious "Show Boat" (version of 1936) See more »
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Seminal Musical Classic Well Worth Seeing Seventy Years Later See more (58 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Irene Dunne ... Magnolia

Allan Jones ... Gaylord Ravenal

Charles Winninger ... Cap'n Andy Hawks

Paul Robeson ... Joe

Helen Morgan ... Julie

Helen Westley ... Parthy Ann Hawks
Queenie Smith ... Elly May Chipley
Sammy White ... Frank Schultz

Donald Cook ... Steve Baker

Hattie McDaniel ... Queenie
Francis X. Mahoney ... Rubber Face

Marilyn Knowlden ... Kim (as a Child)
Sunnie O'Dea ... Kim (at Sixteen)
Arthur Hohl ... Pete

Charles Middleton ... Vallon

J. Farrell MacDonald ... Windy

Clarence Muse ... Janitor
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Maude Allen ... Fat Woman (uncredited)

Ricca Allen ... Old Woman (uncredited)
William Alston ... Young Man (uncredited)

Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson ... Young Black Man (uncredited)

Harry Barris ... Jake - Pianist (uncredited)
Patricia Barry ... Kim Ravenal as a Baby (uncredited)
May Beatty ... Mrs. O' Brien (uncredited)

Brooks Benedict ... Race Fan (uncredited)
Barbara Bletcher ... Fat Girl (uncredited)
Mary Bovard ... Daughter (uncredited)

Donald Briggs ... Press Agent (uncredited)
Betty Brown ... First Girl (uncredited)
Daisy Bufford ... Maid in Chicago (uncredited)
James P. Burtis ... Soldier (uncredited)
Eddy Chandler ... Gambler (uncredited)

E.E. Clive ... London Producer (uncredited)

Edmund Cobb ... Gambler (uncredited)
Maxine Cook ... Thin Girl (uncredited)
D'Arcy Corrigan ... Small Role (uncredited)

Grace Cunard ... Mother (uncredited)
J. Gunnis Davis ... Doctor at Kim's Birth (uncredited)

Anna Demetrio ... Mother (uncredited)
Helen Dickson ... Small Role (uncredited)
Jeanette Dickson ... Chorus Girl (uncredited)

Elspeth Dudgeon ... Mother Superior (uncredited)

Helen Jerome Eddy ... Reporter Interviewing in Rehearsal (uncredited)
Kathleen Ellis ... Girl #2 (uncredited)
Al Ferguson ... Gambler (uncredited)

Stanley Fields ... Backwoodsman with Gun (uncredited)
Artye Folz ... Fat Girl (uncredited)
June Glory ... Girl #3 (uncredited)

Dorothy Granger ... New Year's Eve Cutie (uncredited)
Marilyn Harris ... Little Girl (uncredited)
Helen Hayward ... Mrs. Brecenbridge (uncredited)
Ernest Hilliard ... Race Fan (uncredited)
Arthur Housman ... Drunk (uncredited)
Jimmy Jackson ... Young Man (uncredited)

Selmer Jackson ... Hotel Clerk (uncredited)
Matthew Jones ... Bartender at Trocadero (uncredited)
Jane Keckley ... Mrs. Ewing (uncredited)
Isabel La Mal ... Companion (uncredited)
Jack Latham ... Juvenile (uncredited)

Frank Mayo ... Gambler (uncredited)
Martha Merrill ... Long-Legged Girl (uncredited)

Monte Montague ... Old Man (uncredited)

Jack Mulhall ... Race Fan (uncredited)
Harold Nelson ... Postmaster (uncredited)
Georgia O'Dell ... School Teacher (uncredited)

Dennis O'Keefe ... Blackface Dancer (uncredited)
Patti Patterson ... Banjo Player (uncredited)

Edward Peil Sr. ... Gambler (uncredited)

Barbara Pepper ... New Year's Eve Cutie (uncredited)
Lee Phelps ... Gambler (uncredited)
LeRoy Prinz ... Dance Director at Rehearsal (uncredited)
George Reed ... Old Black Man (uncredited)

Tom Ricketts ... Minister (uncredited)
Donna Mae Roberts ... New Year's Eve Party Extra (uncredited)
Betty Roche ... Tall Girl (uncredited)
Alma Ross ... Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Tiny Sandford ... Zebe - Backwoodsman (uncredited)

Forrest Stanley ... New York Theatre Manager (uncredited)

Mary Stewart ... Singer / Dancer (uncredited)

Maidel Turner ... Mother (uncredited)
Lois Verner ... Small Girl (uncredited)
Harold Waldridge ... Office Boy (uncredited)
Marguerite Warner ... Young Girl (uncredited)
Billy Watson ... Boy (uncredited)
Bobs Watson ... Willie Thomas (uncredited)
Delmar Watson ... Boy (uncredited)
Harry Watson ... Boy (uncredited)
Lloyd Whitlock ... Gambler Speaking to Sheriff (uncredited)
Renee Whitney ... New Year's Eve Cutie (uncredited)
Frank Whitson ... Dealer (uncredited)

Charles C. Wilson ... Jim Green (uncredited)

Directed by
James Whale 
Writing credits
Edna Ferber 

Oscar Hammerstein II (stage play)

Oscar Hammerstein II (screen play)

Zoe Akins  contributing writer (material unused) (uncredited)

Produced by
Carl Laemmle Jr. .... producer
Cinematography by
John J. Mescall 
Film Editing by
Bernard W. Burton  (as Bernard Burton)
Ted J. Kent  (as Ted Kent)
Art Direction by
Charles D. Hall 
Costume Design by
Doris Zinkeisen (costumes designed by)
Makeup Department
Doris Carico .... hair stylist (uncredited)
Charles Gorman .... makeup (uncredited)
Jack P. Pierce .... makeup (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Joseph A. McDonough .... assistant director
Harry Mieneke .... assistant director (uncredited)
Joe Torillo .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sound Department
Gilbert Kurland .... sound supervisor
William Hedgcock .... production recordist (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
John P. Fulton .... special cinematographer
Russell Lawson .... matte artist (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Alan Jones .... second camera (uncredited)
James V. King .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Vera West .... costumes executed by
Brymer .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Earl Leas .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Vera West .... costumes: Irene Dunne (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Maurice Pivar .... editing supervisor (uncredited)
Music Department
Victor Baravalle .... musical director
Oscar Hammerstein II .... lyrics by
Jerome Kern .... music by
Robert Russell Bennett .... composer: incidental music (uncredited)
Robert Russell Bennett .... musical arranger (uncredited)
Mike McLaughlin .... music recordist (uncredited)
Will Vodery .... music arranger: vocal and choral (uncredited)
P.G. Wodehouse .... lyrics for the song "Bill" (uncredited)
Other crew
Leighton Brill .... technical director
Carl Laemmle .... presenter
LeRoy Prinz .... dance numbers staged by (as Leroy Prinz)
Leighton Brill .... dialogue director (uncredited)
John W. Harkrider .... title designer: main title sequence (uncredited)
Jack Latham .... stand-in: Allan Jones (uncredited)
Helen McCaffrey .... script clerk (uncredited)
Katherine Stanley .... stand-in: Irene Dunne (uncredited)
Mary Stewart .... stand-in (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Edna Ferber's Show Boat" - USA (complete title)
See more »
113 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Noiseless Western Electric Recording)
Finland:S | UK:U | USA:Approved (PCA #2043)

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 »
Continuity: When Ravenal first meets Magnolia, just after he sings "Where's The Mate For Me?", she mentions that she plays the piano. He asks, "Was that you I heard just now?", but there is no indication in the film that he actually has heard her. This is probably because part of the scene may have been edited out before the film's release. In the original show, Ravenal sings the first verse of "Where's The Mate For Me?", and then hears Magnolia practicing offstage. Then he goes on to sing a part of the song which is not included in the film. Immediately afterwards, his first conversation with Magnolia takes place, and so, in the stage version, the audience knows exactly when he heard her practicing.See more »
Gaylord Ravenal:[singing] 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...
Frank:[as Ellie looks admiringly after Gaylord] What are you lookin' at?
Ellie May Chipley:Bet he's some aristocrat.
Frank:Yeah? Look at the cracks in his shoes.
Gaylord Ravenal:[singing] ... and other times I wonder, where's the mate for me?
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Musical Comedy Tonight III (1985) (TV)See more »
The Washington PostSee more »


This version of "Show Boat" is supposed to be extremely faithful to the stage musical. What changes have been made?
See more »
35 out of 35 people found the following review useful.
Seminal Musical Classic Well Worth Seeing Seventy Years Later, 11 October 2006
Author: Ed Uyeshima from San Francisco, CA, USA

Sadly not available yet on DVD, the classic black-and-white 1936 version of the seminal 1927 Oscar Hammerstein-Jerome Kern musical is rarely seen these days since it's been overshadowed by the far more elaborate 1951 MGM color remake (which is on DVD). That's a shame since this one is like a piece of cameo jewelry from a bygone era, a sublimely entertaining piece of Americana so naïve in its approach that its pervasive use of racial stereotypes comes across more as quaint than demoralizing.

Directed by James Whale (the protagonist of 1998's "Gods and Monsters" and most famous for his 1931 classic, "Frankenstein"), it's a multi-generational story that starts with the Hawks family who runs a variety entertainment showboat in the 1880's. The jovial Captain Andy is the boat's impresario who is constantly goaded by his mean-spirited wife Parthy. They have a musically inclined daughter Magnolia who is best friends with the show's star, mulatto chanteuse Julie LaVerne. The local sheriff forces Julie out of the show for being half-black. Andy has Magnolia take her place just as gambler Gaylord Ravenal comes to town and becomes recruited as the show's leading man. Gaylord and Magnolia fall immediately in love, marry, move to Chicago and have a girl they named Kim. There, he gains and loses a fortune and then leaves Magnolia and Kim. Over the years, Magnolia becomes a big stage star and passes the torch to Kim.

The music, of course, is unbeatable with standards, chief among them "Make Believe", "Can't Help Lovin' That Man" and "You Are Love". Even though Irene Dunne was in her late thirties when she made this film, she amazingly gets away with the first half where she plays Magnolia as an ingénue. What's more, she was the rare actress who could act and sing (quite beautifully) at the same time, even when she is required to perform in blackface in "Gallivantin' Around". Allan Jones is a fine singer as Gaylord, though not as interesting an actor especially in the second half when misfortune takes over. When they sing "You Are Love" together, it's still quite magical.

What a treat to be able to see the redoubtable Paul Robeson as Joe singing "Ol' Man River" so powerfully (and filmed with an intriguing montage of woeful images), as well as legendary torch singer Helen Morgan play Julie and perform her signature song, "Bill", so touchingly. Familiar character actor Charles Winninger probably has his best role as Captain Andy, while Hattie McDaniel plays Joe's forceful wife Queenie in a performance as good as her Mammy in "Gone With the Wind". The film is really an intriguing mix of melodrama and great music with socially relevant observations regarding racism, alcoholism and gambling addiction.

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