Show Boat (1951)

Approved   |    |  Drama, Family, Musical


Show Boat (1951) Poster

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


6.9/10
4,184

Photos

  • Howard Keel in Show Boat (1951)
  • Ava Gardner and Howard Keel in Show Boat (1951)
  • Agnes Moorehead and Joe E. Brown in Show Boat (1951)
  • Ava Gardner and Kathryn Grayson in Show Boat (1951)
  • Ava Gardner in Show Boat (1951)
  • "Showboat" Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel 1951 MGM

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


14 January 1999 | critic-2
7
| Financially successful, but unsatisfying if you are familiar with the original show
This Technicolor remake of the famous Kern-Hammerstein musical has been very successful financially over the years due to the fact that its re-releases, frequent TV showings, digital re-mastering,and soundtrack album kept the excellent Universal 1936 film from being seen for a long time. It has its good points, among the best being the beauty of Ava Gardner (who gives one of her best portrayals,although she makes Julie more obviously sexy than either Edna Ferber or Oscar Hammerstein II intended), the sumptuous color photography, the thrilling voice of William Warfield singing "Ol' Man River", the likewise excellent voice of Howard Keel, and the dancing of Marge and Gower Champion. Then we get to the negative points, beginning with mostly indifferent or awful acting, slow pacing, especially in the first thirty minutes, and an atrociously rewritten script, which keeps the basic plot line,but throws out most of Hammerstein's dialogue to make way for some memorably corny lines ("There's still not enough room on this boat for the two of us!"). By doing this, the film makers ruin one of "Show Boat" 's greatest virtues--a libretto good enough to enable the show to stand the test of time. Many other 1920's shows have not, principally because of the quality of the scripts, although their songs remain famous and popular. Both "Show Boat"'s score and libretto are highly regarded today.

In addition,the script for this 1951 film version either waters down or eliminates several hard-hitting elements in the plot which were rendered extremely faithfully in the '36 version, though it would spoil the story, as well as that 1936 film, if I gave away what those moments are. It also manages to reduce an important supporting role, that of Queenie,the black cook, to just two lines and no singing, as well as to eliminate the black chorus, an important element of all the show's stage productions as well as of the 1936 film version. The all-purpose M-G-M chorus substitutes for the black chorus, and they do so offscreen.

Scenically,everything is just too artificial and prettied up-you can tell MGM was deliberately ignoring any historical authenticity,especially in the too elaborate and inaccurate redesigning of the show boat itself as a luxurious self-propelled paddlewheeler.

Critic Reviews



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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Breen Censorship Office tried to raise an objection against the use of the "miscegenation sequence" in this film version of the show, but they were unable to do so because the 1936 film version had already used it and thus set a precedent.


Quotes

Trocadero Stage Assistant: What's the matter with her?
Jake Green: 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.


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.


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".


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.


Soundtracks

Cakewalk
(1927) (uncredited)
from "Act I Finale"
Played by Cotton Blossom pit orchestra
Danced by
Marge Champion and Gower Champion in background during miscegenation sequence

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Family | Musical | Romance

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