The daughter of a riverboat captain falls in love with a charming gambler, but their fairytale romance is threatened when his luck turns sour.

Director:

George Sidney

Writers:

John Lee Mahin (screen play), Jerome Kern (based on the immortal musical play "Show Boat" by) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
1,341 ( 8,519)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Kathryn Grayson ... Magnolia Hawks
Ava Gardner ... Julie LaVerne
Howard Keel ... Gaylord Ravenal
Joe E. Brown ... Cap'n Andy Hawks
Marge Champion ... Ellie May Shipley
Gower Champion ... Frank Schultz
Robert Sterling ... Steven Baker
Agnes Moorehead ... Parthy Hawks
Leif Erickson ... Pete (as Lief Erickson)
William Warfield ... Joe
Edit

Storyline

The "Cotton Blossom", owned by the Hawk family, is the show boat everyone goes to for great musical entertainment down south. Julie LaVerne and her husband are the stars of the show. After a someone tells the local police that Julie (who's half- African-American) is married to a white man, they are forced to leave the show boat because 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. Soon after, Magnolia realizes that gambling means more to Gaylord than anything else. Magnolia confronts Gaylord, and after he gambles away their fortune he leaves her, not knowing she is pregnant. Magnolia, penniless and pregnant, and is left to fend for herself, and make a new start. Written by Kelly

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's NEW! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Lux Radio Theater broadcast a 60-minute radio adaptation on February 11, 1952, with Ava Gardner, Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Marge Champion, Gower Champion, and William Warfield reprising their film roles. 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

Trocadero Stage Assistant: [referring to Julie] What's the matter with her?
Jake Green: [holding up an empty glass of whiskey] Ehhh...
Trocadero Stage Assistant: She startin' in on a bust again?
Jake Green: She better not. These fool one-man gals! Their fella walks out on them and they gotta tear themselves apart till they hit bottom. And I gotta suffer for it.
See more »

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 »

Alternate Versions

In most 1980's television prints and videocassette releases of the film, we see stills of the Mississippi River during the credits, rather than seeing "moving shots" of it, as in the original theatrical release, later videocassette prints, the DVD, and TV showings. See more »

Connections

Featured in The 100 Greatest Musicals (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Mis'ry's Comin' Round
(1927) (partial) (uncredited)
Music by Jerome Kern
Hummed by off-screen chorus
See more »

User Reviews

Why all the putdowns of this great musical??? In many ways an improvement over 1936 original...
8 May 2001 | by DoylenfSee 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.


56 of 74 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 62 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 September 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Show Boat See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$2,295,429 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed