7.4/10
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Show Boat (1936)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Musical | 17 May 1936 (USA)
Despite her mother's objections, the naive young daughter of a show boat captain is thrust into the limelight as the company's new leading lady.

Director:

James Whale

Writers:

Edna Ferber, Oscar Hammerstein II (stage play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Irene Dunne ... Magnolia
Allan Jones ... Gaylord Ravenal
Charles Winninger ... Cap'n Andy Hawks
Paul Robeson ... Joe
Helen Morgan ... Julie
Helen Westley ... Parthy Ann Hawks
Queenie Smith ... Elly May Chipley
Sammy White Sammy White ... Frank Schultz
Donald Cook ... Steve Baker
Hattie McDaniel ... Queenie
Francis X. Mahoney Francis X. Mahoney ... Rubber Face
Marilyn Knowlden ... Kim (as a Child)
Sunnie O'Dea ... Kim (at Sixteen)
Arthur Hohl ... Pete
Charles Middleton ... Vallon
Learn more

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Director: James Whale
Stars: Madge Evans, John Boles, Bruce Cabot

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Storyline

Adaptation of the Broadway musical. Magnolia Hawks is the lovely but protected, and thus very naive, daughter of Cap'n Andy Hawks, the genial proprietor of a show boat that cruises the Missisippi, and his nagging wife, Parthy. She is best friends with the show boat's star, Julie LaVerne, but Julie and her husband Steve are forced to leave when it is revealed that Julie has "Negro" blood in her, thereby breaking the state law by being married to the white Steve. Magnolia replaces Julie as the show boat's female star, and the show's new male star is the suave gambler Gaylord Ravenal. "Nola" and Gaylord fall in love and marry against Parthy's wishes. They and their young daughter lead the high life when Gaylord is lucky in gambling, but live like dirt when he's unlucky. During one such unlucky streak, a broken Gaylord leaves Nola, and she is forced to start over by returning to the stage. Like Old Man River, as the famous song from this show goes, she just keeps rollin' along. Written by Tommy Peter

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Sensation of 1936! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "Lux Radio Theatre" version of this film was broadcast on June 24, 1940, and starred Irene Dunne, Allan Jones and Charles Winninger from the film's cast. The radio version avoided all mention of racial issues by having "Ol' Man River" sung as a background choral number at the beginning, instead of as a number for Paul Robeson and male chorus. It also changed Julie from a mulatto illegally married to a white man to an illegal alien whose husband chose to be deported with her. See more »

Goofs

As Magnolia, Gaylord, and child are leaving their residence in their automobile Gaylord honks the horn and there is engine backfire which startles a passing horse pulling a buggy. The horse rears and squeals but no sounds are heard. See more »

Quotes

Pete: Hey, where'd you get that gold brooch?
Queenie: You mean this scrumptious piece o' jewelry?
Pete: Yeah, where'd you get it?
Queenie: It was give tuh me.
Pete: Who give it to you?
Queenie: Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies!
Queenie: [she walks off, laughing heartily]
Pete: [muttering] I know who give it to you and she's gonna be sorry, too. All right, Miss Julie LaVerne, if that's how you feel about me...
Pete: [he rips the photo of Julie out of its frame on the stand, but is seen by Windy]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits for this film say "A James Whale Production" although Whale did not produce the film, while the film's posters say "A Carl Laemmle, Jr. Production", and Laemmle did produce the film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in That's Black Entertainment: Actors (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Goodbye, My Lady Love
(1904) (uncredited)
Written by Joseph E. Howard
Sung and Danced by Queenie Smith and Sammy White
See more »

User Reviews

A cinematic masterpiece and true to the Ferber epic
16 May 2002 | by 16mmRaySee all my reviews

This is not a musical. This is a film. James Whale's visual expressionism and the truly remarkable performances he coached from his actors is what makes SHOW BOAT a great movie. As an historical record, this SHOW BOAT is nearest to the Ferber novel as well as the Ziegfeld stage production, using several members of the original and / or London cast. The evocative tone of the film, bringing alive the seedy rural Mississippi River towns, coupled with the natural and subtle acting jobs, make this film real to the touch. Yes, MGM's production is more opulent, with more modern orchestrations and stronger vocals on the part of Gay and Magnolia. Even William Warfield is more polished than Paul Robeson. And that's the trouble. That performance belongs in an opera house. Universal's 1936 SHOW BOAT is musical realism. As for the cultural aspects, blackface happened. Get over it. So did rampant racism; and the misegenation aspects of the script are dealt with frankly and brutally. I know of precious few films of the thirties that were so bold in their statements regarding racial intolerance. And don't think Whale was oblivious to the fact that he was placing one infraction side-by-side with another. It is the perfect unmasking of the hypocrisy of racism - you can make yourself up to look like a nigger; but don't dare marry one or carry a drop of one's blood in your veins or let a real one on the same stage with a white actor.

Why is "Bill" so powerful? Listen to the second chorus. Victor Baravelle brings in high sustained strings. Whale cuts to the old charwomen halting in their work, stopping to listen, wiping away an unwanted tear with an apron.

SHOW BOAT 1936 pulls no punches. It's a masterpiece.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 May 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Edna Ferber's Show Boat See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Noiseless Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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