6.9/10
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61 user 16 critic

Show Boat (1951)

Approved | | Drama, Family, Musical | 24 September 1951 (USA)
Trailer
4:02 | Trailer
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 »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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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
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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:

HERE IT COMES! The M-G-M "SHOW BOAT"! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Both Nanette Fabray and Carol Bruce were also considered for the role of Julie LaVerne in this 1951 movie version. Carol Bruce had completed her Universal Pictures contract. Bruce had had a successful run on stage playing Julie LaVerne for one year from 1946-1947 to great success. Carol Bruce did become under contract to M.G.M./Lorimar in the 1980's and was on "Knots Landing. See more »

Goofs

In the "Ol' Man River" sequence, after the boat has stopped moving to allow Ravenal to climb on board, it begins moving again and passes some dock workers on rafts. Joe is seen in long shot, standing on the deck of the show boat and singing to them the words "You an' me, we sweat and strain...", etc. During that specific moment, his voice is not quite synchronized with his arm and lip movements (he shakes his fists for emphasis). Then, on the line "Ya get a little drunk", he is shown in medium shot, and his voice matches his lip movements perfectly. See more »

Quotes

Magnolia: Oh, golly, but he loves you!
Julie: Of course he does. I'm the belle of the ball.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Some prints of this film spell Leif Erickson's name the correct way in the opening credits; others spell it as "Lief Erickson". 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 »


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 »

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.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 September 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Show Boat See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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