Show Boat

( 4 )

Overview

MGM's 1951 version of Show Boat has always been artistically suspect. It's a very superficial interpretation of the play, more akin to a fancy-dress dinner-theater version, than a serious adaptation. Apart from the major alterations made in the score and plot, and the sheer radiance of its Technicolor photography, which makes it look too good, the 1951 movie's production caused the 1936 Universal version (made within hailing distance of the original stage production and utilizing members of that cast) to be ...
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Overview

MGM's 1951 version of Show Boat has always been artistically suspect. It's a very superficial interpretation of the play, more akin to a fancy-dress dinner-theater version, than a serious adaptation. Apart from the major alterations made in the score and plot, and the sheer radiance of its Technicolor photography, which makes it look too good, the 1951 movie's production caused the 1936 Universal version (made within hailing distance of the original stage production and utilizing members of that cast) to be withdrawn from circulation for many years. On the other hand, this is the version of Show Boat that, for better or worse, most filmgoers and most people have come to know for a half century. It has had a mixed history on video. The original VHS and laser editions from the early and mid-'80s, based on existing elements for television presentation, suffered from muddy colors and muffled sound. A laser upgrade in the late '80s improved both modestly, and another in the early '90s restored most of the luster to the picture and the music. The DVD release takes the next step -- the movie glows from its first frame to its last; what's more, the detail that shows through now makes even the last laserdisc edition look pale, muted, and anemic by comparison. The sound is also very good, although here the movie has always been at a disadvantage -- Show Boat was made a little too early to avail itself of the best recording technology, and the audio has always lacked the range and richness of later musical productions from MGM and other studios; it's decent, and carefully balanced, but still a bit bass-heavy and lacking a layer of clarity that is evident in other musical scores of the period -- the orchestral transitions lack some of the majesty that one expects in their volume and texture, and most of the songs miss the highs and rich undertones that belong in this kind of a rich score. This may be as good as it gets, however, and it is cleaner than the laser track. Despite its artistic shortcomings, one sort of wishes that Warner Home Video had given this disc special treatment. There should have been an audio track discussion of the film and the underlying work. This would have been a chance to show those who might never purchase the 1936 version (assuming it ever comes out on DVD) what was missing here and also what was good about it -- and there is some good about it, especially several of the performances: Ava Gardner, Howard Keel, Agnes Moorehead, William Warfield, and Kathryn Grayson. As it is, it's a very good disc, one of the prettiest to look at in the MGM musical library, well mastered and priced attractively. The only bonus material is the original trailer, which is as faded and fuzzy as the movie used to look on video, but the 28 chapters divide the movie up into all of its essential musical and dramatic points. The movie starts up automatically, so the menu must be accessed manually.
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Special Features

Interactive menus; Theatrical trailer; Scene access; Languages: English and Español; Subtitles: English, Français & Español
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
Show Boat is one of MGM's best musical productions of the 1950s, an entertaining star vehicle that suffers primarily by comparison to the 1936 version. Director George Sidney is mostly interested in getting production values onto the screen, and he does so admirably, with a rousing opening sequence that establishes the tone and pacing to follow. The film both benefits and suffers from the star-laden casting choices. While Joe E. Brown is fun to watch doing his usual Joe E. Brown act, he fails to credibly become the character he is playing. Similar problems exist in other casting choices. If Ava Gardner is never quite believable as Julie LaVerne, she instead gives a very fine Ava Gardner performance. What the 1936 version lacks in spectacle, this remake more than compensates for. The film is visually rich and lush, and the performers never lack for energy or charisma.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/8/2000
  • UPC: 012569509429
  • Original Release: 1951
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Mono
  • Sound: monaural
  • Language: English, Español
  • Time: 1:48:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 9,048

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Kathryn Grayson Magnolia Hawks
Howard Keel Gaylord Revenal
Ava Gardner Julie Laverne
Joe E. Brown Capt. Andy Hawks
Marge Champion Ellie May Shipley
Gower Champion Frank Schultz
Robert Sterling Stephen Baker
Agnes Moorehead Parthy Hawks
William Warfield Joe
Bette Arlen
Chick Chandler Herman
Roy Damron
Anne Dore
Michael Dugan
Marietta Elliott
Leif Erickson Pete
Lisa Ferraday Renee
George Ford
Robert Fortier
Mary Jane French
Earl Hodgins Bartender
Tom Irish Bellboy
Joyce Jameson Chorus Girl
Edward Keane Hotel Manager
Marilyn Kinsley
Fuzzy Knight Troc Piano Player
Judy Landon
Norman Leavitt George the Calliope Player
George Lynn Dealer
Ian MacDonald Drunken Sport
Alphonse Martell Headwaiter
Owen McGiveney Windy McClain
Louis Mercier Dabney
Ida Moore Little Old Lady
Anna Q. Nilsson Seamstress
Emory Parnell Jake Green
James Pierce Doorman
Bert Roach Drunk
William Tannen Man with Julie
Regis Toomey Sheriff Ike Vallon
Mitzie Uehlein
Frank Wilcox Mark Hallson
Lynn Wilde
Frances Williams Queenie
Technical Credits
George Sidney Director
Robert Alton Choreography
Peter Ballbusch Special Effects
Alexander Courage Musical Arrangement
Adolph Deutsch Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
John D. Dunning Editor
Arthur Freed Producer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Oscar Hammerstein II Score Composer, Songwriter
John Lee Mahin Screenwriter
Jack McGowan Screenwriter
Warren Newcombe Special Effects
Richard A. Pefferle Set Decoration/Design
Walter Plunkett Costumes/Costume Designer
Charles Rosher Sr. Cinematographer
Conrad Salinger Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Douglas Shearer Sound/Sound Designer
Jack Martin Smith Art Director
Alfred E. Spencer Set Decoration/Design
William J. Tuttle Makeup
George Wells Screenwriter
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
P.G. Wodehouse Songwriter
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Scene Index

Scene Selections
0. Scene Selections
1. Credits. [1:35]
2. Cotton Blossom. [2:50]
3. Captain Andy's entrance. [2:07]
4. Miss Julie Laverne. [1:03]
5. "Just a sample, folks!" [1:20]
6. Mr. Pete's riverside brawl. [3:00]
7. Where's the Mate for Me? [4:42]
8. Make Believe. [7:44]
9. Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man. [5:14]
10. I Might Fall Back on You. [3:37]
11. Trouble for Julie. [5:39]
12. Ol' Man River. [6:06]
13. A new leading man and lady. [4:49]
14. A gallant proposal. [1:53]
15. You Are Love. [6:07]
16. Why Do I Love You? [3:31]
17. "I can't fight Lady Luck." [4:23]
18. Gaylord's goodbye note. [3:34]
19. Bill. [5:03]
20. Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man. [4:51]
21. Life upon the Wicked Stage. [5:43]
22. After teh Ball. [5:43]
23. Magnolia gives birth. [1:29]
24. Papa dances with Kim. [1:36]
25. Julie tells about the family. [5:46]
26. Reunited. [1:31]
27. Make Believe. [3:43]
28. Ol' Man River. [3:00]
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Menu

Side #1
Play
   Menu Group #1 with 28 chapter(s) covering 01:47:53
Captions and Subtitles
Theatrical Trailer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

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4 Star

(3)

3 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A VERY disappointing film...

    Even though this is the only version of Show Boat done in color, this version of Show Boat was disappointing. Ava Gardner had to have her voice dubbed. Kathryn Grayson is talented but I don't think she was well suited for the part of Magnolia. During the scene where she's singing "After The Ball" people were continuously shouting "I can't hear you!" And I could see (or hear, rather) why. The acting was not very good, the singing only a little better. The music in this film was not done very well. There were also gaps in the movie. Overall, this movie was a sleeper. If you want to hear Jerome Kern's music as it is meant to be heard, you should watch the 1936 version with Irene Dunne, Allan Jones, and Charles Winniger.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Just Keeps Rollin'

    SHOW BOAT was a huge hit when released, and is certainly beautiful to look at and listen to. The criticisms of it for a modern audience usually fall on Kathryn Grayson, whose voice sounds a little like the chirpy voice of Snow White. The script is very different from the stage show, as are the tempos of some of the songs. Still, it is packed with a lot to enjoy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Still a Whale of a Musical

    First saw this movie on the late show when I was a kid, and fell in love with it from the first. Sure, it has some flaws, but the music is glorious, the cinematography is strong, and overall the performances are first rate. I've hummed tunes from this ever since that first viewing. You don't get better than Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel and William Warfield vocally! Who cares that Ava Gardner's vocals were dubbed? She still makes a beautiful and tragic Julie. Get over the quibbles about this version of Show Boat and enjoy it for what it is...great entertainment!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Not that Bad!

    I have heard nothing but negative comments about this film from critics. Many people claim that this version pales in comparison to the 1936 version which is yet to be released on DVD. However, I am here to tell you that the movie is beautiful to look at, thanks to George Sidney and the music is legendary, thanks to Jerome Kern and Hammerstein. The foggy early morning scene where Joe sings Ol' Man River is the best scene in the movie, and strikes an emotional punch that will stay with you forever!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews