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
The show boat "Cotton Blossom" is inaccurately designed for the era in which the story takes place (the 1880's). The boat used in the film is built in the style of a typical modern luxury riverboat, with giant twin smokestacks and a large paddlewheel in the rear, and it moves on its own power. Modern "show boats" are built that way because of advances made since the 19th century, but authentic show boats of the era did not have smokestacks or paddlewheels, and were not self-powered. They were barge-like structures similar to a long, floating house with a flat roof, and they were connected to, and pushed along by the misleadingly named "towboats", which did have smokestacks and a paddlewheel. If a real show boat of the era had been steam-powered, its steam engine would have had to be placed (very dangerously) smack in the middle of the auditorium. See more »
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 »
When MGM acquired the rights to Show Boat for the Arthur Freed unit, no expense was spared in making this one of the most expensive films the studio had ever produced. A whole riverboat was constructed as well as the Natchez landing was completely built on a location on a lake which served as turn of the last century Mississippi river locale.
No doubt also that Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson sang beautifully together. Those three Jerome Kern ballads, Make Believe, Why Do I Love You? and You Are Love were just written for their voices.
Ava Gardner is a beautiful and fetching Julia. Annette Warren's dubbing of Julie LaVerne's songs Can't Help Loving That Man and Bill perfectly matched Ava's speaking voice.
The problem I've always felt with this version is that Howard Keel is too strong a character to be playing Gaylord Ravenal who is essentially a weak personality. Allan Jones in the 1937 version perfectly captured Ravenal's frailty.
That 1937 version also had two people from the original Broadway production who made those parts all their own, Helen Morgan as Julie and Charles Winninger as Captain Andy. And it had the incomparable Paul Robeson though William Warfield is a fabulous Joe.
The singing of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II score is in the major leagues. The rest of the film however is in a minor key when compared with the earlier sound version with Allan Jones and Irene Dunne.
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