Show Boat (1951)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Family, Musical  |  24 September 1951 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.0/10 from 3,402 users  
Reviews: 45 user | 13 critic

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



(screen play), (based on the immortal musical play "Show Boat" by), 2 more credits »
0Check in

Watch Now

From $9.99 on Amazon Video

Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Family | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire present more golden moments from the MGM film library, this time including comedy and drama as well as classic musical numbers.

Director: Gene Kelly
Stars: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland
Documentary | Family | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Some of MGM'S musical stars review the studios history of musicals. From The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929) to Brigadoon (1954) , from the first musical talkies to Gene Kelly in Singin' in ... See full summary »

Directors: Bud Friedgen, Michael J. Sheridan
Stars: Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller
Documentary | Family | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Various MGM stars from yesterday present their favourite musical moments from the studio's 50 year history.

Director: Jack Haley Jr.
Stars: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby
Heidi (1937)
Family | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A plucky little orphan girl gets dumped abruptly into her gruff, hermit grandfather's care, then later gets retaken and delivered as a companion for an injured girl.

Director: Allan Dwan
Stars: Shirley Temple, Jean Hersholt, Arthur Treacher
Comedy | Family | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The trials and tribulations of the Winfield family in small town Indiana as Marjorie Winfield's boyfriend, William Sherman, returns from the Army after W.W.I. Bill & Marjorie's on-again, ... See full summary »

Director: David Butler
Stars: Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Leon Ames
Comedy | Family | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Drama critic Larry McKay, his wife Kay, and their four sons move from their crowded Manhattan apartment to an old house in the country. While housewife Kay settles into suburban life, Larry... See full summary »

Director: Charles Walters
Stars: Doris Day, David Niven, Janis Paige
Drama | Family | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A jaded former jockey helps a young girl prepare a wild but gifted horse for England's Grand National Sweepstakes.

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, Donald Crisp
Family | Fantasy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Of Glocca Morra, Ireland, Finian McLongeran, who has his own unique belief system of Irish legends, uproots himself and his adult daughter, Sharon McLonergan, and heads for the mythical ... See full summary »

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Fred Astaire, Petula Clark, Tommy Steele
Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In the year before the 1904 St Louis World's Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to New York.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor
tom thumb (1958)
Family | Fantasy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The Forest Queen grants the wish of Jonathan, the woodcutter, and his wife, Anna.

Director: George Pal
Stars: Russ Tamblyn, June Thorburn, Peter Sellers
Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A little girl is left by her father in an exclusive seminary for girls, due to her father having to go to Africa with the army.

Directors: Walter Lang, William A. Seiter
Stars: Shirley Temple, Richard Greene, Anita Louise
Little Women (1933)
Drama | Family | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Little Women is a "coming of age" drama tracing the lives of four sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. During the American Civil War, the girls father is away serving as a minister to the troops... See full summary »

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Paul Lukas


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


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


Spectacular in color by Technicolor! See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 September 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Magnolia  »

Box Office


$2,295,429 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Poster advertisements for this film completely omitted Leif Erickson's name, while in the actual film credits, Erickson is billed before William Warfield (even though his role is smaller than Warfield's). See more »


When the townspeople are rushing to see the show boat at the beginning, the camera crew's shadow is visible on the road. See more »


Trocadero Stage Assistant: [referring to Julie] What's the matter with her?
Jake Green: [holding up an empty glass of whiskey] Ehhh...
Trocadero Stage Assistant: She startin' in on a bust again?
Jake Green: She better not. These fool one-man gals! Their fella walks out on them and they gotta tear themselves apart till they hit bottom. And I gotta suffer for it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »


Referenced in What's My Line?: Episode dated 13 September 1953 (1953) See more »


Auld Lang Syne
(1788) (uncredited)
Traditional Scottish 17th century music
Lyrics by Robert Burns
Sung by the New Year's Eve crowd
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Forget the story, enjoy the singing...
26 January 2007 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

Don't worry about comparisons with the original, supposedly weak story line, etc, etc - just suspend belief and enjoy it as a musical.

The key vocalists are absolutely first rate: Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson and William Warfield were at the tops of their games here. The superb, effortless vocals from Keel and Grayson are lessons on how to sing - you'll never hear 'Make Believe' sung better than this.

William Warfield's version of 'Old Man River' is just magic. People usually talk about Paul Robson in the same breath as 'Old Man River' but none of Robson's renditions can match this performance. Warfield is a true bass (Robson was a bass-baritone) and delivers this song with magnificent power and resonance. Warfield is The Man.

Sit back and enjoy the music...

11 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
The most underrated musical sequence in the film kathyselden
Not the perfect 'Show' at all... churei
'departure scene' mentioned in the trivia section thames-5
The end forgetnorway
Actual 'Show Boat ' luverofmovies
Gotta couple questions harpo_75
Discuss Show Boat (1951) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page