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.

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7/10
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Photos

  • Gower Champion and Marge Champion in Show Boat (1951)
  • William Warfield in Show Boat (1951)
  • Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel in Show Boat (1951)
  • Ava Gardner in Show Boat (1951)
  • Ava Gardner and Howard Keel in Show Boat (1951)
  • Ava Gardner and Kathryn Grayson in Show Boat (1951)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


27 July 2006 | bkoganbing
7
| Spared No Expense
When MGM acquired the rights to Show Boat for the Arthur Freed unit, no expense was spared in making this one of the most expensive films the studio had ever produced. A whole riverboat was constructed as well as the Natchez landing was completely built on a location on a lake which served as turn of the last century Mississippi river locale.

No doubt also that Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson sang beautifully together. Those three Jerome Kern ballads, Make Believe, Why Do I Love You? and You Are Love were just written for their voices.

Ava Gardner is a beautiful and fetching Julia. Annette Warren's dubbing of Julie LaVerne's songs Can't Help Loving That Man and Bill perfectly matched Ava's speaking voice.

The problem I've always felt with this version is that Howard Keel is too strong a character to be playing Gaylord Ravenal who is essentially a weak personality. Allan Jones in the 1937 version perfectly captured Ravenal's frailty.

That 1937 version also had two people from the original Broadway production who made those parts all their own, Helen Morgan as Julie and Charles Winninger as Captain Andy. And it had the incomparable Paul Robeson though William Warfield is a fabulous Joe.

The singing of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II score is in the major leagues. The rest of the film however is in a minor key when compared with the earlier sound version with Allan Jones and Irene Dunne.

Critic Reviews



Did You Know?

Trivia

The showboat built for the film (known as the Cotton Blossom) became an amusement park attraction in 1973, after MGM sold many of its props at an auction. Unfortunately, in 1995, it was dismantled and torn apart. For this film, the Cotton Blossom was built on top of a flat-bedded barge so that it could be towed into position by underwater cables for the musical number which opens the film. Even though the Cotton Blossom was built to exact specifications and was fitted with a stern paddle-wheel, the thrust of the paddle wheel would have been too strong to maneuver the boat in the studio lake. Too little thrust would have moved the boat very slowly if it moved the boat at all. Hence, it was necessary to move the boat into position by underwater cables. This underwater towing technique also made it easier for the boat to move into its mooring position at exactly the right moment when the musical number came to an end.


Quotes

Magnolia: I know there's no other woman... no flesh-and-blood woman. But I can't fight this Lady Luck of yours, this fancy queen in her green felt dress.


Goofs

At one point, Magnolia (Kathryn Grayson) refers to Lady Southweight and Hamilton Barsdale as being characters in "Tempest and Sunshine", a melodrama adapted from a then-popular novel. There are no such characters in that play. In the scene in which Cap'n Andy (Joe E. Brown) introduces the show boat actors to the crowd, Julie (Ava Gardner) and Steve (Robert Sterling) make another reference to Hamilton, and Cap'n Andy then says: "You have to see the play tonight folks, to learn their secret - "Tempest and Sunshine", beautiful drama of tears and laughter".


Crazy Credits

Because some of the lyrics to the song "Cotton Blossom" have been altered by uncredited staff writers in this version of "Show Boat", Oscar Hammerstein II is never actually mentioned as having written the lyrics to the songs, although P.G. Wodehouse IS listed as having written the lyrics to "Bill". (This is only partially correct; only about half of Wodehouse's 1917 lyric to "Bill" was used. The rest of the lyric is by Hammerstein.)


Alternate Versions

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.


Soundtracks

After the Ball
(1892) (uncredited)
Written by
Charles Harris
Sung by Kathryn Grayson and Trocadero audience

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Family | Musical | Romance

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