The daughter of a riverboat captain falls in love with a charming gambler, but their fairytale romance is threatened when his luck turns sour.

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(screen play), (based on the immortal musical play "Show Boat" by) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
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...
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Ellie May Shipley (as Marge)
Gower Champion ...
...
...
...
Pete (as Lief Erickson)
William Warfield ...
Joe
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Storyline

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 Kelly

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Lift your heart with love, music, joy! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 September 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Magnolia  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,295,429 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

MGM vied for the rights to film "Show Boat" as early as 1938. Universal Studios had owned the rights to the musical since 1929, and had made earlier versions in 1929 (with different songs) and 1936. MGM had hopes of starring the reigning operatic duo of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald in the roles of Gaylord and Magnolia. but when that didn't happen, they showcased new stars Tony Martin and Kathryn Grayson - in a kind of screen test as Ravenal and Magnolia in the Kern film biography Till the Clouds Roll By (1946) (and Grayson did eventually appear in the 1951 "Show Boat"). The third lead in the film, the biracial Julie, was considered at various times for Judy Garland, Dinah Shore, and Lena Horne. Shore, although not a major film star, did have a somewhat exotic visage at the time - her hair and eyes were very dark, and she did almost as many blues and torch songs as a band singer in the 1940's as did Garland. Horne mentions in her biography that she wanted to do the role of Julie badly, but only got as far as performing a single number in the "Clouds" film in the opening "Show Boat" vignette. America, after all, was still a segregated nation in 1950. Interracial romance was still taboo on screen - and Julie kisses and romantically interacts with her white husband several times. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Magnolia: [to Gaylord Ravenal] I know there's no other woman... no flesh-and-blood woman. But I can't fight this Lady Luck of yours, this fancy queen in her green felt dress.
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Crazy Credits

Because some of the lyrics to the song "Cotton Blossom" have been altered by uncredited staff writers in this version of "Show Boat", Oscar Hammerstein II is never actually mentioned as having written the lyrics to the songs, although P.G. Wodehouse IS listed as having written the lyrics to "Bill". (This is only partially correct; only about half of Wodehouse's 1917 lyric to "Bill" was used. The rest of the lyric is by Hammerstein.) See more »


Soundtracks

Montage: Make Believe
(reprise)
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Sung by MGM chorus during first montage sequence
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Tough Musical To Film
3 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I've been a Showboat fan for a long time. I've seen it live on stage 5 times as well as the 1936 version and the PBS version. After watching the MGM version again on TCM, I decided that it is almost impossible to make a satisfying version of a Showboat movie.

Its strange to say, but I think "opening up" the stage version took away some of the intimacy a live version has. Showboat's greatness does not come from the standard boy meets girl - boy loses girl - boy gets girl storyline. It comes from the music and on stage a number can start with one guy on the docks lamenting the suffering endured along the Mississippi and end with a chorus of voices singing about Ol Man River. The numbers themselves "open up" to fill the stage. But no movie can do that to the same effect.

But my biggest problem with this version is the abbreviation of the story and the musical numbers. The songs Kern and Hammerstein wrote deserve to be fleshed out in all their operatic grandeur. The first act contains what I consider the best back to back to back musical numbers in Broadway history with Make Believe - Ol' Man River - Can't Help Lovin Dat Man and the movie rearranges them out of order and only River is fleshed out. Can't Help should be an 8 minute number with the chorus joining in at the end instead of the barely noticed number in the movie.

Because the music is among the best ever written, it is really hard to make a bad version of Showboat. I'll watch this movie whenever it is on TV but if you really love Showboat, get the EMI 3 CD recording with Frederica Von Stade and Jerry Hadley. And go see it live when you have the chance.


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