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Show Boat

Show Boat

Director: James Whale Cast: Irene Dunne
Irene Dunne
, Allan Jones
Allan Jones
, Charles Winninger
Charles Winninger
, Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson
James Whale
Show Boat

Show Boat

Director: James Whale Cast: Irene Dunne
Irene Dunne
, Allan Jones
Allan Jones
, Charles Winninger
Charles Winninger
, Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson
James Whale

Blu-ray (Black & White)

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This second film version of the Edna Ferber/Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II musical Show Boat is considered by many film buffs to be the best of the three. Covering nearly four decades (was there ever an Edna Ferber novel that didn't?), the film stars Irene Dunne as Magnolia Hawks, a role she'd previously played on stage, though not in the Broadway version. The daughter of showboat impresario Captain Andy (Charles Winninger, who was in the Broadway original), Magnolia is swept off her feet by dashing gambler Gaylord Ravenal (Allan Jones). Yearning to appear on the showboat stage, Magnolia gets her chance when Captain Andy's leading lady, the tragic Julie (Helen Morgan, likewise a holdover from Broadway), is ordered not to perform by a small-town sheriff because she is Mulatto. Julie's husband Steve (Donald Cook) loyally walks out with his wife, thereby leaving the leading-man position open--but not for long, since Gaylord Ravenal agrees to take over for Steve, the better to stay close to Magnolia. Despite the disapproval of Magnolia's mother Parthy Hawks (Helen Westley), Magnolia and Ravenal are married. Later on, the couple has a baby girl named Kim. At first, the young family is blissfully happy, but as Ravenal's gambling debts begin to mount, things turn sour. Unable to support Magnolia and Kim, Ravenal walks out on them both. Desperately, Magnolia tries to get a job as a singer in Chicago. She auditions at a night spot where, fortuitously, Julie is the featured attraction. Hoping to give Magnolia a break, Julie gets drunk, forcing the manager to hire Magnolia as a replacement. During her New Years' Eve debut, Magnolia "chokes up" in front of the raucous audience--and then, who should emerge from the crowd but lovable Captain Andy, who gives Magnolia the encouragement she needs. Magnolia goes on to become a famous musical comedy star, as does her grown-up daughter Kim (played as an adult by Sunnie O'Dea). On the eve of Magnolia's retirement from the theater, she is reunited with her now-contrite husband Gaylord Ravenal. While the second half of Show Boat departs radically from both the novel (in which Ravenal never returns ) and the Broadway show, the film manages to capture the spirit of its literary and theatrical ancestors. Of the original score, "Cotton Blossom," "Ol' Man River," "Where's the Mate for Me?" "Make Believe," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," "You are Love" and "Bill" are retained, while most of the other songs are heard as background accompaniment. Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II penned three new tunes for the film version: "Ah Still Suits Me," "Gallavantin' Around" and "I Have the Room Above."" As in all stage and screen versions of Show Boat, the Charles K. Harris standard "After the Ball" is heard in the New Year sequence. In addition to the aforementioned Dunne, Jones, Winninger, Westley, Morgan, and O'Dea, the Show Boat cast includes the magnificent Paul Robeson as Joe (his rendition of "Ol' Man River" can still induce goosebumps), Hattie McDaniel as Queenie and Sammy White and Queenie Smith as the engagingly second-rate vaudeville team of Frank and Ellie Schultz. Though James Whale of Frankenstein fame seems an odd choice for director, he brings a vibrant theatricality to the proceedings that is lacking in other versions. Show Boat literally saved the financially strapped Universal Pictures from receivership--but not soon enough to prevent the ousters of Carl Laemmle Sr. and Jr. in favor of a new administration.

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Product Details

Release Date: 03/31/2020
UPC: 0715515243216
Original Release: 1936
Source: Criterion Collection
Region Code: A
Presentation: [B&W]
Time: 1:53:00
Sales rank: 42,837

Special Features

New, restored 4k digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack Audio Commentary from 1989 featuring American-musical historian Miles Kreuger; New interviewwith James Whale biographer James Curtis; Recognizing Race in "Show Boat," a new interview program featuring professor and author Shana L. Redmond; Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist (1979), an Academy Award-Winning short documentary by Saul J. Turell, newly restored; Four performances from the sound prologue of the 1929 film version of Show Boat, including songs from original Broadway cast members Helen Morgan, Jules Bledsoe, and Tess Gardella, plus twenty minutes of silent excerpts from the film, with Audio Commentary by Kreuger; Two radio adaptations of Show Boat, featuring stage and screen cast members Morgan, Allan Jones, and Charles Winninger; Producer Orson Welles; and novelist Edna Ferber; Plus: An essay by critic Gary Giddins

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Irene Dunne Magnolia Hawks
Allan Jones Gaylord Revenal
Charles Winninger Capt. Andy Hawks
Paul Robeson Joe
Helen Morgan Julie
Helen Westley Parthy Hawks
Donald Cook Steve
Queenie Smith Ellie
Sammy White Frank Schultz
Hattie McDaniel Queenie, Joe's Wife
Francis X. Mahoney Rubberface
Charles B. Middleton Sheriff Vallon
Arthur Hohl Pete
John Farrell MacDonald Windy
Patricia Barry Baby Kim
Marilyn Knowlden Kim (younger)
Sunnie O'Dea Kim (elder)
May Beatty Landlady
Clarence Muse Sam the Janitor
Stanley Fields Zebe
Maude Allen Fat Woman
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson Young Black Man
Harry Barris Jake
Brooks Benedict Race Fan
Donald Briggs Press Agent
Eddy Chandler Actor
E.E. Clive Englishman
Edmund Cobb Actor
Grace Cunard Mother
Elspeth Dudgeon Mother Superior
Helen Jerome Eddy Reporter
Al Ferguson Gambler
Flora Finch Woman
Dorothy Granger Actor
George Hackathorne YMCA Worker
Marilyn Harris Little Girl
Ernest Hilliard Actor
Arthur Houseman Drunk
Jimmy Jackson Young Man
Selmar Jackson Hotel Clerk
Jane Keckley Mrs. Ewing
Theodore Lorch Simon Legree
Frank Mayo Actor
Monte Montague Old Man
Jack Mulhall Actor
Georgia O'Dell Schoolteacher
Edward Peil Actor
Barbara Pepper Actor
Lee Phelps Actor
LeRoy J. Prinz Dance Director
George H. Reed Old Black Man
Stanley "Tiny" Sandford Backwoodsman
Forrest Stanley Theater Manager
Lois Verner Small Girl
Bobby Watson Lost Child
Renee Whitney Chorus Girl
Charles Wilson Jim Green
Jack Latham Juvenile

Technical Credits
James Whale Director
Victor Baravalle Musical Direction/Supervision
Bernard W. Burton Editor
John P. Fulton Special Effects
Charles Hall Art Director
Oscar Hammerstein Score Composer,Screenwriter
Ted Kent Editor
Jerome Kern Score Composer
Carl Laemmle Producer
John Mescall Cinematographer
LeRoy J. Prinz Choreography
Vera West Costumes/Costume Designer
Doris Zinkeisen Costumes/Costume Designer

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