Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Whale|
|Produced by||Carl Laemmle Jr.|
|Written by||Oscar Hammerstein II (also wrote lyrics)|
|Based on|| Show Boat |
by Edna Ferber, and the Kern-Hammerstein musical adapted from the novel
|Starring|| Irene Dunne |
|Music by||Jerome Kern|
|Cinematography||John J. Mescall|
|Edited by|| Bernard W. Burton |
|Color process||Black and white|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Show Boat is a 1936 romantic musical film directed by James Whale, based on the 1927 musical of the same name by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, which in turn was adapted from the 1926 novel of the same name by Edna Ferber.
Universal Pictures had filmed the part-talkie Show Boat which was released in 1929. Carl Laemmle, head of Universal, had been deeply dissatisfied with that film, and wanted to make an all-sound version of the musical. It was originally scheduled to be made in 1934, but plans to make this version with Russ Columbo as the gambler Gaylord Ravenal fell through when Columbo was killed that year in a shotgun accident, and production of the film was rescheduled. The film, with several members of the original Broadway cast, began principal photography in late 1935 and was released in 1936.
In addition to the songs retained from the stage production, Kern and Hammerstein wrote three additional songs for the film. Two of them were performed in spots previously reserved for songs from the stage production.
The musical's story spans about 40 years, from the late 1880s to the late 1920s. Magnolia Hawks (Irene Dunne) is an 18-year-old on her family's show boat, the Cotton Blossom, which travels the Mississippi River putting on shows. She meets Gaylord Ravenal (Allan Jones), a charming gambler, falls in love with him, and eventually marries him. Together with their baby daughter, the couple leaves the boat and moves to Chicago, where they live off Gaylord's gambling winnings. After about 10 years, he experiences an especially bad losing streak and leaves Magnolia, out of a sense of guilt that he is ruining her life because of his losses. Magnolia is forced to bring up her young daughter alone. In a parallel plot, Julie LaVerne (Helen Morgan) (the show boat's leading actress, who is part black, but passing as white) is forced to leave the boat because of her background, taking Steve Baker (Donald Cook) (her white husband, to whom, under the state's law, she is illegally married) with her. Julie is eventually also abandoned by her husband, and she becomes an alcoholic. Magnolia becomes a success on the stage in Chicago. Twenty-three years later, Magnolia and Ravenal are reunited at the theater in which Kim, their daughter, is appearing in her first Broadway starring role.
This film version of Show Boat stars Irene Dunne as Magnolia and Allan Jones as Ravenal, with Charles Winninger, Paul Robeson, Helen Morgan, Helen Westley, Queenie Smith, Sammy White, Donald Cook, Hattie McDaniel, Charles Middleton, and Arthur Hohl. It was directed by James Whale, who tried to bring as many people from the stage production as he could to work on the film. (Florenz Ziegfeld, who died in 1932, had originally produced Show Boat onstage.) Winninger, Morgan and White had all previously played their roles in both the original 1927 stage production and the 1932 stage revival of the musical. Robeson, for whom the role of Joe was actually written, had appeared in the show onstage in London in 1928 and in the Broadway revival of 1932. Dunne had been brought in to replace Norma Terris, the original Magnolia, in the touring version of the show, and had toured the U.S. in the role beginning in 1929. Francis X. Mahoney, who played the brief role of the comic stagehand "Rubber Face" Smith, had also starred in the original production and in the 1932 Broadway revival, and would repeat his role in the 1946 Broadway revival of Show Boat, two years before his death.
This film also enlisted the services of the show's original orchestrator, Robert Russell Bennett, and its original conductor, Victor Baravalle, as the film's music director and conductor. The screenplay for the film was written by Hammerstein.
The songs were performed in a manner very similar to the original stage version, not counting the three new songs written for the film. Many of the show's original vocal arrangements (by an uncredited Will Vodery) were retained in the film. "Why Do I Love You?" had been filmed in a new setting—inside a running open-top automobile—but was cut just before the film's release to tighten the running time. It is featured in all stage presentations of Show Boat, and if performed in its entirety is a long song, running six minutes and forty seconds. There is no word on whether or not the film footage has survived, [ which? ] state that the visibly jerky car ride did not match the studio recording well enough, and the song was dropped, but a hint of it remains underneath the dialog. The music of the song is heard in the automobile sequence, in an earlier hotel lobby scene, and in the scene in which Magnolia receives Ravenal's farewell letter.but modern sources
Due to time constraints, Whale was forced to delete much of his ending sequence, including a "modern" dance number to contrast with the romantic, "Old South" production number featuring Kim, and which was intended to highlight black American contributions to dance and music. In order to condense many years' time into the final reel of the film, a number of montages were employed, and up-tempo and down-tempo excerpts of "Gallivantin' Aroun'", arranged by Robert Russell Bennett, were used in place of dialog, or under incidental dialog. There was also to have been an additional reprise of "Ol' Man River", sung by Paul Robeson in old-age makeup as Joe, but this was deleted, and we never do see an aged Joe (or Queenie) in the film as released.
According to film historian Miles Kreuger in his book Show Boat: The History of a Classic American Musical, great care was taken by director James Whale to ensure a feeling of complete authenticity in the set and costume design for this film.
Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times called it "one of the finest musical films we have seen".Writing for The Spectator in 1936, Graham Greene gave the film a mildly positive review, characterizing the direction as "fine moneyed smoothness", and describing the film as "good entertainment, sentimental, literary, but oddly appealing". Greene also commented that the film had seen criticism from other viewers that the ending had suffered from "the extreme sentimentality and improbability of [the final] reunion".
It was the 8th most popular film at the British box office in 1935–36.
Ten numbers from the stage score are actually sung, with four others heard only as background music, and a tiny, almost unrecognizable fragment of the song "I Might Fall Back on You" is heard instrumentally at the beginning of the New Year's Eve sequence. Except for three new dialogue scenes, the final ten minutes of the film, and the three additional songs written for the movie by Kern and Hammerstein, the 1936 Show Boat follows the stage musical extremely closely, unlike the 1929 film and the 1951 version released by MGM. It is so faithful that even several instrumental pieces not by Kern which are regularly included as part of the show's score are retained in the film. The film also retains much of the comedy in the show.
Although the film was critically acclaimed and successful at the box office, it was withdrawn from circulation in the 1940s, after Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which wanted to remake the film, bought the rights (and all prints) from Universal. MGM originally wanted to star Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy in the remake, but those plans fell through.MGM's Show Boat did not begin filming until late 1950, and was released in the summer of 1951 with Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel in the leading roles.
The fact that Paul Robeson, who had played Joe in the 1936 version, was blacklisted in 1950 further assured that the 1936 film would not be seen for a long time,[ citation needed ] and it was not widely seen again until after Robeson's death in 1976. In 1983 it made its debut on cable television, and a few years later, on PBS. It was subsequently shown on TNT and now turns up from time to time on TCM.
In 2014, a restoration of the film became available on DVD in the U.S. as part of Warner Home Video's Archive Collection line;and in 2020, a 4K restoration Blu-ray was released by The Criterion Collection.
The three new songs written by Kern and Hammerstein for the 1936 film are:
In 1996, this version of Show Boat was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
Show Boat was made available on VHS beginning in 1990 (MGM/UA M301757). The Voyager Company, under its Criterion Collection Label, released two versions on laserdisc in 1989 of the 1936 version. One was a special edition with extras that included the history of show boats in general and its stage and film history, and the other was a movie only version. MGM/UA Home Video released the 1929, 1936 and 1951 versions, as well as the Show Boat sequence from Till the Clouds Roll By , as The Complete Show Boat collection on laserdisc in 1995. The 1929 version was restored and this release is the most complete version available. The transfer for the 1936 version is the same as the Criterion Collection and the 1951 was from the restored stereo release MGM had done earlier.
A Brazilian company, Classicline, released a poor quality DVD version in 2003.
In February 2014, a restoration of the film became available on DVD in the U.S. as part of Warner Home Video's Archive Collection line.The initial inventory will be filled by manufactured DVDs; subsequent inventory will be filled by DVDs-on-demand (DVD-Rs). Warner has since discontinued this edition.
In March 2020, Criterion released both a DVD and Blu-ray of this version, with footage from the 1929 version and commentary by Miles Krueger on both the feature film and the 1929 footage, both ported over from the CAV laserdisc release.
Rodgers and Hammerstein refers to the duo of composer Richard Rodgers (1902–1979) and lyricist-dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II (1895–1960), who together were an influential, innovative and successful American musical theatre writing team. They created a string of popular Broadway musicals in the 1940s and 1950s, initiating what is considered the "golden age" of musical theatre. Five of their Broadway shows, Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music, were outstanding successes, as was the television broadcast of Cinderella (1957). Of the other four shows that the team produced on Broadway during their lifetimes, Flower Drum Song was well-received, and none was an outright flop. Most of their shows have received frequent revivals around the world, both professional and amateur. Among the many accolades their shows garnered were thirty-four Tony Awards, fifteen Academy Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes and two Grammy Awards.
Show Boat is a musical with music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and P. G. Wodehouse, and a book by Hammerstein II. It is based on Edna Ferber's best-selling 1926 novel of the same name. The musical follows the lives of the performers, stagehands and dock workers on the Cotton Blossom, a Mississippi River show boat, over 40 years from 1887 to 1927. Its themes include racial prejudice and tragic, enduring love. The musical contributed such classic songs as "Ol' Man River", "Make Believe", and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man".
Allan Jones was an American actor and tenor.
Roberta is a musical from 1933 with music by Jerome Kern, and lyrics and book by Otto Harbach. The musical is based on the novel Gowns by Roberta by Alice Duer Miller. It features the songs "Yesterdays", "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", "Let's Begin", "You're Devastating", "Something Had To Happen", "The Touch of Your Hand" and "I'll Be Hard to Handle".
"Ol' Man River" is a show tune from the 1927 musical Show Boat that contrasts the struggles and hardships of African Americans with the endless, uncaring flow of the Mississippi River. It is sung from the point of view of a black stevedore on a showboat, and is the most famous song from the show. The song is meant to be performed in a slow tempo, it is sung complete once in the musical's lengthy first scene by the stevedore "Joe" who travels with the boat, and, in the stage version, is heard four more times in brief reprises. Joe serves as a sort of musical one-man Greek chorus, and the song, when reprised, comments on the action, as if saying, "This has happened, but the river keeps rolling on anyway."
Broadway Melody of 1940 is a 1940 MGM film musical starring Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell and George Murphy. It was directed by Norman Taurog and features music by Cole Porter, including "Begin the Beguine".
Till The Clouds Roll By is a 1946 American Technicolor musical film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is a fictionalized biopic of composer Jerome Kern, portrayed by Robert Walker. Kern was originally involved with the production, but died before it was completed. It has a large cast of well-known musical stars of the day who appear performing Kern's songs. It was the first in a series of MGM biopics about Broadway's composers; it was followed by Words and Music, Three Little Words, and Deep in My Heart.
Show Boat is a 1929 American romantic drama film based on the 1926 novel Show Boat by Edna Ferber. The film initially did not use the 1927 stage musical of the same name as a source, but scenes were later added into the film incorporating two of the songs from the musical as well as other songs. This version was released by Universal in two editions, one a silent film for movie theatres still not equipped for sound, and one a part-talkie with a sound prologue.
The King and I is a 1956 American musical film made by 20th Century-Fox, directed by Walter Lang and produced by Charles Brackett and Darryl F. Zanuck. The screenplay by Ernest Lehman is based on the 1951 Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical The King and I, based in turn on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon. That novel in turn was based on memoirs written by Anna Leonowens, who became school teacher to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. Leonowens' stories were autobiographical, although various elements of them have been called into question. The film stars Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner.
Norma Terris was an American musical theatre star. Her mother, a singer, named her after the heroine of Bellini's opera, Norma.
"Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" with music by Jerome Kern, and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, is one of the most famous songs from their classic 1927 musical play Show Boat, adapted from Edna Ferber's 1926 novel.
Gaylord Ravenal is the leading male character in Edna Ferber's 1926 novel Show Boat, in the famous Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II 1927 musical play of the same name based on the novel, and in the films made from it. He is a handsome, compulsive riverboat gambler, and he becomes leading man of the show boat Cotton Blossom at the same time that Magnolia Hawks, the captain's daughter, becomes the leading lady. In the novel, this happens after several of the company's leading men and ladies have left, including the illegally married mulatto Julie Dozier and her white husband Steve Baker. In the musical, Magnolia and Ravenal become the leading players on the boat immediately after Julie and Steve are forced to leave the show, not years later.
Roberta is a 1935 American musical film by RKO starring Irene Dunne, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Randolph Scott. It was an adaptation of a 1933 Broadway musical Roberta, which in turn was based on the novel Gowns by Roberta by Alice Duer Miller. It was a solid hit, showing a net profit of more than three-quarters of a million dollars.
Julie Dozier is a character in Edna Ferber's 1926 novel Show Boat. In the Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's classic musical version of it, which opened on Broadway on December 27, 1927, her stage name is Julie La Verne. She is exposed as Julie Dozier in Act I. In Act II, Julie has changed her name, this time to Julie Wendel.
Show Boat is a 1951 American musical romantic comedy-drama film, based on the 1927 stage musical of the same name by Jerome Kern (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II, and the 1926 novel by Edna Ferber. It was made by MGM, adapted for the screen by John Lee Mahin, produced by Arthur Freed and directed by George Sidney.
Mis'ry's Comin' Aroun is a once-neglected song from the 1927 musical Show Boat by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. It was cut from the production during the Washington D.C. tryout on the orders of producer Florenz Ziegfeld, supposedly because it was one of the factors that made the show too long. However, musical theatre historian Miles Kreuger and conductor John McGlinn, also suggest that it was the dark, dramatic tone of the piece that most concerned Ziegfeld. Kern was reportedly so incensed by the deletion of "Mis'ry's Comin' Aroun" that he made it the principal motif of Show Boat's original overture and asked orchestrator Robert Russell Bennett to work sections of it into the background music as well, where it is now played by the orchestra during some of the dialogue scenes involving the mixed race actress Julie La Verne.
"Make Believe" is a show tune from the 1927 Broadway musical Show Boat with music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
"You Are Love" is a song by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II from their classic 1927 musical play Show Boat. It is sung twice in the show - first, by Magnolia Hawks, the heroine, and riverboat gambler Gaylord Ravenal when they agree to marry near the end of Act I, and again in the penultimate scene of Act II by Ravenal when he returns to Magnolia after having deserted her for 23 years.
Kenneth Spencer, was an American operatic singer and actor. Spencer starred in a few Broadway musicals and musical films in the United States during the 1940s. Frustrated with the racial prejudice he experienced in the United States as a black man, Spencer moved to West Germany in 1950 where he had a successful singing career. He also appeared in a number of German films. His career was cut short when he died in the crash of Eastern Air Lines Flight 304.
Show Boat is a 221-minute studio album of Jerome Kern's musical, performed by a cast headed by Karla Burns, Jerry Hadley, Bruce Hubbard, Frederica von Stade and Teresa Stratas with the Ambrosian Chorus and the London Sinfonietta under the direction of John McGlinn. It was released in 1988.
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