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Show Boat (1951)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Family, Musical  |  24 September 1951 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 3,343 users  
Reviews: 45 user | 12 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.

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(screen play), (based on the immortal musical play "Show Boat" by), 2 more credits »
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Title: Show Boat (1951)

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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

Taglines:

Spectacular in color by Technicolor! 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)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

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

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 »

Quotes

Magnolia: How are your others?
Gaylord Ravenal: Huh? What's that, honey?
Magnolia: Your other bets! Yesterday's and last night's and all those "one last round before we break it up" bets! Were they just as good?
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 »

Connections

Featured in MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Why Do I Love You?
(1927) (uncredited)
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Sung by Kathryn Grayson & Howard Keel
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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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