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 »

Photos

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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
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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:

THE GRANDEST SHOW YOU'LL EVER KNOW! (lobby card) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Helen Morgan has played Julie in the original 1927-1929 Broardway production, as well as in the 1932. See more »

Goofs

At one point in the story, Cap'n Andy and Parthy discuss hiring a new leading man and leading lady. Just before Cap'n Andy says, "But where do we go from here? We can't give no more shows without a leading man !" he and Parthy are abruptly seen in a slightly different position. See more »

Quotes

Rubber Face: [the actors are performing the play "The Parson's Bride" on the show boat. Rubber Face, the prop and sound effects man, mistakenly moos like a cow instead of doing a doorbell sound effect] Moo!
Magnolia: [in character as Miss Lucy] Ah, there's the bell. It must be Parson Brown at last!
Gaylord Ravenal: [enters in character as Parson Brown] Good evening, Miss Lucy! I was absorbed in meditation and did not realize night had fallen.
Magnolia: The days are growing shorter, Hamilton, but they're long when one is waiting!
Gaylord Ravenal: As I came across ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

For the opening credits, we see a cardboard cutout display of a show boat parade, with cutout paper townspeople watching it, on a moving turntable. The parade revolves past the camera carrying cardboard banners on which are printed the title and other credits to the film. Most of the parade figures are simply figures, but among them we can discern cutouts of Paul Robeson and Helen Morgan (the appearance of these figures does not coincide with the appearance of their names onscreen). In the background can be seen the shadows of a paddlewheel and a riverboat. See more »

Connections

Featured in Classified X (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Till Good Luck Comes My Way
(1927) (uncredited)
Music by Jerome Kern
Played as background music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

By Far, the best "Show Boat" on film
1 October 2002 | by KalamanSee all my reviews

What an exquisite and enjoyable film! Along with "The Great Garrick"(1937), "The Old Dark House"(1932) and "The Bride of Frankenstein"(1935), "Show Boat" is one of James Whale's loveliest and most enduring classics. By far, the best "Show Boat" ever captured on film. The plush 1951 MGM remake is a cartoon by comparison.

Like Whale's "The Great Garrick," the film is a delicate, self-reflexive study about the entrancing possibilities of the theater, or for that matter acting. Acting as a metaphor for life. One of delights of "Show Boat" is that it does not avoid depicting either the joy of make-belief (the basis of the theater) or its inevitable heartbreak. In this regard, it invites comparison to Jean Renoir's exquisite "French Cancan"(1955), another back stage musical that understands, accepts, and celebrates the difficulties and ultimately the magic of the theater.

In addition to being an honest and frank celebration of miscegenation, "Show Boat" is also a genuinely felt evocation of a stage actress (wonderfully played by Irene Dunne in one of her greatest performances ever), who goes from a stagestruck teen to a mature woman seriously dealing with the consequences of a marriage to a gambler(played by the occasionally bland Allan Jones).

Paul Robeson's extraordinary, melodious rendition of "Ol' Man River" is the highlight of the film, occasioning in great and inventive montage sequence.

A great film.


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