Approved | | Drama, Family, Musical
The daughter of a riverboat captain falls in love with a charming gambler, but their fairytale romance is threatened when his luck turns sour.
MGM vied for the rights to film the musical as early as 1938. Universal Studios had owned the rights since 1929, and made film versions in 1929 (with different songs) and 1936. MGM had hopes of starring the reigning operatic duo of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald as Gaylord and Magnolia. When that didn't happen, they showcased new stars Tony Martin and Kathryn Grayson as Ravenal and Magnolia in the Kern film biography Till the Clouds Roll By (1946). Grayson eventually appeared in the 1951 version. Judy Garland and Dinah Shore were considered for the biracial Julie. Shore wasn't a major film star, but her hair and eyes were very dark, and as a band singer in the 1940s she did almost as many blues and torch songs as Garland. Lena Horne mentions in her biography that she very much wanted to portray Julie, but only performed a single number in the "Clouds" film in the opening "Show Boat" vignette.
It's perfectly plain to me what's happening onboard this boat. And I'll not have my daughter mixed up with any hussy!
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.
Some prints of this film spell Leif Erickson's name the correct way in the opening credits; others spell it as "Lief Erickson".
Early preview showings of this film featured Ava Gardner's own singing voice, before the film was officially released with Ava overdubbed by Annette Warren.