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The "Cotton Blossom", owned by the Hawk family, is the show boat where everyone comes for great musical entertainment down south. Julie Laverne and her husband are the stars of the show. After, a snitch on board calls the local police that Julie (who's half- African-American) is married to a whiteman, they are forced to leave the show boat. The reason being, that down south interracial marriages are forbidden. Magnolia Hawk, Captain Andy Hawks daughter, becomes the new show boat attraction and her leading man is Gaylord Ravenal, a gambler. The two instantly fall in love, and marry, without Parthy Hawks approval. Magnolia and Gaylord leave the, "Cotton Blossom", for a whirl wind honeymoon and being to live in a Pl: fantasy world. Magnolia soon faces reality quickly, that gambling means more to Gaylord than anything else. Magnolia confront Gaylord and after he gambles away their fortune he leaves her - not knowing she is pregnant. Magnolia is left penniless and pregnant, and is left to ... Written by
Director George Sidney was forced to leave for a few days because of illness, so uncredited associate producer Roger Edens directed the beautifully shot, fog-enshrouded "departure" sequence, including the performance by William Warfield of "Ol' Man River." It is the one scene in the film that has been praised even by critics who detest this version of "Show Boat." See more »
In the "Ol' Man River" sequence, after the boat has stopped moving to allow Ravenal to climb on board, it begins moving again and passes some dock workers on rafts. Joe is seen in long shot, standing on the deck of the show boat and singing to them the words "You an' me, we sweat and strain...", etc. During that specific moment, his voice is not quite synchronized with his arm and lip movements (he shakes his fists for emphasis). Then, on the line "Ya get a little drunk", he is shown in medium shot, and his voice matches his lip movements perfectly. See more »
[on hearing Magnolia try to sing at the Trocadero]
Take her back to the river... hee, hee, hee!
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Jerome Kern is never specifically credited for having composed the music. His and Oscar Hammerstein II's joint screen credit reads: "Based on the Immortal Musical Play 'Show Boat' by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II'", although Kern wrote only the music. See more »
Beautifully wrought version of the Edna Ferber novel may not hew as closely as the earlier Irene Dunne take on the story but is a sublime pleasure nonetheless.
The music by Kern and Hammerstein is some of the best either ever composed sung by extremely talented performers Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel. Both do excellent work both musically and dramatically even if early in the film its a bit of a stretch for Kathryn to be believable as the teenage Magnolia.
Taking full advantage of being shot in Technicolor the film is a feast for the eyes brimming with vibrant purples, reds and greens as well as being loaded with talent. And what talent, Marge & Gower Champion contribute several fine numbers full of bounce and zest, Joe E. Brown is a memorable Cap'n Andy funny and touching in turn, Agnes Moorehead delightful as the vinegary Parthy and William Warfield provides a soaring and haunting Ol' Man River.
The real standout however is Ava Gardner as the tragic, wounded Julie. Originally intended for Judy Garland until her meltdown and firing and while she would have made a memorable Julie full of jittery vulnerability Ava nails the part with a haunted sadness. A shame they felt the need to dub her vocals since they do appear on the cast album and are both very good and have the right feeling for the songs. Her final scene is a star making moment as surely intended by Metro.
Across the board this is a five star winner of a movie musical, one of the best the dream factory ever turned out.
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