Show Boat

  • 1929
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Musical

A disappointing first go-around for the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II stage classic, SHOW BOAT was shot as a silent, then songs and dialog were added. The resulting part-talkie version includes an endless prolog featuring Broadway producer Florenz Ziegfeld and Univeral Pictures boss Carl Laemmle, in addition to several numbers performed by members of...read more

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A disappointing first go-around for the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II stage classic, SHOW BOAT was shot as a silent, then songs and dialog were added. The resulting part-talkie version includes an endless prolog featuring Broadway producer Florenz Ziegfeld and Univeral Pictures boss

Carl Laemmle, in addition to several numbers performed by members of the original cast. Tess Gardella sings "C'Mon, Folks" and "Hey, Feller" with the Jubilee Singers; Jules Bledsoe does "Ol' Man River,"; and Helen Morgan sings "Bill" and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man"; regrettably, the rest of the

film pales in comparison to these prolog numbers. The story, first told in a novel by Edna Ferber, follows the fortunes of Magnolia (Laura La Plante, with singing dubbed by Eva Olivetti), daughter of Capt. Andy Hawks (Otis Harlan) and his wife, Parthenia Ann (Emily Fitzroy), who operate a showboat

on the Mississippi River. Magnolia falls for and marries riverboat gambler Gaylord Ravenal (Austrian-born Joseph Schildkraut, who tries vainly to cover his accent), but after Capt. Hawks is killed, Parthenia Ann's domineering ways drive away Magnolia and Gaylord. Luck then refuses to smile on

Gaylord at the tables and, for the good of the family, he leaves Magnolia, who survives by taking to the stage. The end of SHOWBOAT's journey, however, finds the two reunited, back where they began. Most of the musical's hits are done in the prolog and not repeated, and, due mainly to this, the

film drags, though atrocious editing and hammy acting (except for that of Alma Rubens, who contributes a fine performance) don't help much. Moreover, the abrupt shifts from silence to sound are more than a little jarring to the senses. Tunes included: "Look Down that Lonesome Road" (Gene Austin,

Nathaniel Shilkret), "Here Comes that Show Boat" (Billy Rose, Maceo Pinkard), "Down South" (William H. Myddleton, Sigmund Spaeth), "Love Sings a Song in My Heart" (Joseph Cherniavsky, Clarence J. Marks), "Coon, Coon, Coon" (Leo Friedmann, Gene Jefferson), and traditional spirituals like "Deep

River" and "I've Got Shoes."

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A disappointing first go-around for the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II stage classic, SHOW BOAT was shot as a silent, then songs and dialog were added. The resulting part-talkie version includes an endless prolog featuring Broadway producer Florenz Ziegf… (more)

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