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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Ellie May Shipley (as Marge)
Gower Champion ...
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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

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Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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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

Eddie Foy Jr. and Mildred Natwick were once considered for the roles of Cap'n Andy and Parthy. See more »

Goofs

At one point, Magnolia (Kathryn Grayson) refers to Lady Southweight and Hamilton Barsdale as being characters in "Tempest and Sunshine", a melodrama adapted from a then-popular novel. There are no such characters in that play. In the scene in which Cap'n Andy (Joe E. Brown) introduces the show boat actors to the crowd, Julie (Ava Gardner) and Steve (Robert Sterling) make another reference to Hamilton, and Cap'n Andy then says: "You have to see the play tonight folks, to learn their secret - "Tempest and Sunshine", beautiful drama of tears and laughter". See more »

Quotes

Cap'n Andy Hawks: (hearing of Magnolia's engagement to Ravenal) Son, I hope it's not Saturday night one minute, with a cold Monday morning to follow. Whatever happens, Nollie, always remember to smile.
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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 »

Connections

Referenced in MGM Parade: Episode #1.4 (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

Finale: Ol' Man River
(1927) (uncredited)
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Sung by William Warfield and offscreen chorus
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Why all the putdowns of this great musical??? In many ways an improvement over 1936 original...
8 May 2001 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

I strongly disagree with some of the other viewers. 'Showboat' -- the 1951 version -- is not inferior to the earlier, darker Universal version with Irene Dunne and Allan Jones. The talent used for the lavish technicolor remake is in itself superior to the cast of the original--Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner, Joe E. Brown, Agnes Moorehead, Robert Sterling -- and most importantly, Marge and Gower Champion who can do no wrong with dance numbers. By comparison, the dances in the original version appear uninspired--and even the legendary Helen Morgan (not a conventional beauty by any standards) fails to evoke the same magic Ava Gardner does as Julie. True, Morgan did her own singing but Gardner's voice on the soundtrack could just as well have been used instead of Annette Warren's.

Other than that, the MGM film is just fine--everything is staged with much more zest and enthusiasm than is present in the awkward, lumbering James Whale version. And Marge and Gower Champion's version of "Life Upon the Wicked Stage" is a priceless example of this team's artful way with a show tune. Their contribution is a major asset of the newer version.

Likewise, Grayson and Keel blend their rich voices in song the way they were meant to be heard by Kern & Hammerstein. Irene Dunne had a modest soprano voice but she was not as accomplished a singer as Grayson nor did she deliver numbers with Kathryn's uncommon ease. Performance-wise, Grayson is a bit too subdued against Gardner's more colorful character and did not kick up her heels the way she would in 'Kiss Me Kate', one of her best roles.

As for Allan Jones in the earlier version, he was a personable enough singer/actor but he was nowhere close to Keel's adroit handling of both songs and dialogue. Keel went on to become a staple of some of MGM's finest musicals and a fine reputation as a strong singer.

The pacing of the older film was slow, leisurely and downright boring at times. The remake is much easier on the eyes and ears. There's a hint of snobbism in the putdowns this film gets from some of the more discriminating viewers who cannot forgive whatever changes were made to make the plot line and time frame smoother. A deliberate change in story structure does not make a film inferior to the original.

A high point of the film is, of course, William Warfield's full-bodied version of "Old Man River" -- just another of the film's memorable musical moments. An MGM musical in the grand tradition--not to be missed.


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