Show Boat (1936)

110, 112 or 115 mins | Comedy-drama | 17 May 1936

Director:

James Whale

Writer:

Billie Burke

Producer:

Carl Laemmle Jr.

Cinematographer:

John Mescall

Production Designer:

Charles D. Hall

Production Company:

Universal Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

This film's title card reads "Edna Ferber's Show Boat ." Ferber's novel was serialized in Woman's Home Companion (Apr-Aug 1926). Many actors from the 1927 Florenz Ziegfeld-produced Broadway musical recreated their roles for the film, including Charles Winninger, Helen Morgan, Francis X. Mahoney, and Sammy White, who made his film debut in this production. According to modern sources, Paul Robeson was originally wanted for the role of "Joe" in the 1927 stage version but was unavailable. He did, however, appear in the 1928 London production with Cedric Hardwicke and Colin Clive, and the 1932 Ziegfeld Broadway revival. "Ol' Man River" later became Robeson's signature song. Irene Dunne, Allan Jones and Hattie McDaniel also starred in earlier productions.
       This film was the last feature presented by Universal president and founder Carl Laemmle, who then sold his interest in the company to J. Cheever Cowdin and Charles R. Rogers. HR announced on 12 Oct 1935 that Universal was negotiating with M-G-M to borrow Dave Gould to stage the dances in this film, however, LeRoy Prinz was eventually hired. According to the Call Bureau Cast Service, Prinz also appeared in the film in the role of a dance director. In 1933, Universal began negotiating for Winninger and Robeson to appear in this film. According to a modern source, production was originally planned for 1933 under Frank Borzage's direction, with a script by Jo Swerling. Dunne, Winninger, Robeson and Russ Columbo were set to star. Reportedly, in 1935, initial screenplays by Zoë Akins were scrapped, and the final shooting script was completed by Oscar Hammerstein II. Akins is listed as contributing writer in Universal production ... More Less

This film's title card reads "Edna Ferber's Show Boat ." Ferber's novel was serialized in Woman's Home Companion (Apr-Aug 1926). Many actors from the 1927 Florenz Ziegfeld-produced Broadway musical recreated their roles for the film, including Charles Winninger, Helen Morgan, Francis X. Mahoney, and Sammy White, who made his film debut in this production. According to modern sources, Paul Robeson was originally wanted for the role of "Joe" in the 1927 stage version but was unavailable. He did, however, appear in the 1928 London production with Cedric Hardwicke and Colin Clive, and the 1932 Ziegfeld Broadway revival. "Ol' Man River" later became Robeson's signature song. Irene Dunne, Allan Jones and Hattie McDaniel also starred in earlier productions.
       This film was the last feature presented by Universal president and founder Carl Laemmle, who then sold his interest in the company to J. Cheever Cowdin and Charles R. Rogers. HR announced on 12 Oct 1935 that Universal was negotiating with M-G-M to borrow Dave Gould to stage the dances in this film, however, LeRoy Prinz was eventually hired. According to the Call Bureau Cast Service, Prinz also appeared in the film in the role of a dance director. In 1933, Universal began negotiating for Winninger and Robeson to appear in this film. According to a modern source, production was originally planned for 1933 under Frank Borzage's direction, with a script by Jo Swerling. Dunne, Winninger, Robeson and Russ Columbo were set to star. Reportedly, in 1935, initial screenplays by Zoë Akins were scrapped, and the final shooting script was completed by Oscar Hammerstein II. Akins is listed as contributing writer in Universal production files at the USC Cinema-Television Library. According to DV , this film started production on 9 Dec 1935 without a male lead. Wilbur Evans, John Boles, Michael Bartlett and Francisco Del Campo were still being considered for the role of "Ravenal" as of 6 Dec. Universal had hoped to borrow Nelson Eddy from M-G-M, but negotiations fell through. According to a news item in FD on 16 Dec 1935, three hundred African-American actors were used in this production. Cameraman Alan Jones is not to be confused with actor Allan Jones.
       In an interview in the NYT on 17 May 1936, Irene Dunne said she regretted that her rendition of the song "Why Do I Love You?," sung during an automobile ride on a bumpy road, was cut from the film; her location rendition was much too "jerky," while her studio performance was much too smooth to match the scene. "Why Do I Love You?" remains in the film's orchestral background, however. Dunne made a personal appearance at the film's opening at the Radio City Music Hall in New York on 14 May 1936. The songs "I Have the Room Above Her," "Gallivantin' Around" and "Ah Still Suits Me" were original songs written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II for the film. According to a modern source, "Got My Eye on You" and "Negro Peanut Vendor's Street Cry," also written by Kern and Hammerstein for the film, were not used.
       Modern sources also claim that W. C. Fields was considered for the role of "Cap'n Andy Hawks." Modern sources list Leon Shamroy as an uncredited cinematographer. Irene Dunne and Charles Winninger performed a radio version of Show Boat in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 24 Jun 1940. Universal made a 1929 adaptation of the Ferber story, directed by Harry A. Pollard and starring Laura La Plante and Joseph Schildkraut (see above). In 1951, M-G-M made a feature version of Show Boat , directed by George Sidney, that starred Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner, Howard Keel and Joe E. Brown (see below) More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
6 Dec 35
p. 7.
Daily Variety
9 Dec 35
p. 3.
Daily Variety
12 Mar 36
p. 8.
Daily Variety
27 Apr 36
p. 3.
Film Daily
16 Dec 1935.
---
Film Daily
30 Apr 36
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 36
p. 5.
Motion Picture Daily
14 Apr 36
p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald
1 Feb 36
p. 44.
Motion Picture Herald
18 Apr 36
pp. 16-17.
Motion Picture Herald
9 May 36
p. 39.
MPSI
Jan 37
p. 7.
New York Times
15 May 36
p. 29.
New York Times
17 May 1936.
---
Variety
20 May 36
p. 12.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Mae Beatty
Stanley J. Sandford
William Alston
Jimmy Jackson
Dorothy Grainger
James P. Burtis
George H. Reed
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A James Whale Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Stage play, screen play and lyrics by
Story
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
2d cam
Special cinematographer
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Ed supv
COSTUMES
Ward
Cost des by
Cost exec by
Designer
MUSIC
Musical arr
SOUND
Sd supv
Rec of mus
Rec of production
DANCE
Dance numbers staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech dir
Scr clerk
STAND INS
Stand-in for Irene Dunne
Stand-in for Allan Jones
Stand-in for Helen Morgan
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Show Boat by Edna Ferber (Garden City, NY, 1926) and the musical of the same name by Edna Ferber, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, II (New York, 27 Dec 1927).
MUSIC
"Why Do I Love You?" and "I Have the Room Above Her" by Jerome Kern.
SONGS
"Make Believe," "Ol' Man River," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," "You Are Love," "Gallavantin' Around" and "Ah Still Suits Me," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, II
"Bill," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, II and P. G. Wodehouse
"After the Ball," music and lyrics by Charles K. Harris
+
SONGS
"Make Believe," "Ol' Man River," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," "You Are Love," "Gallavantin' Around" and "Ah Still Suits Me," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, II
"Bill," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, II and P. G. Wodehouse
"After the Ball," music and lyrics by Charles K. Harris
"Goodbye My Lady Love," music and lyrics by Joe Howard.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Edna Ferber's Show Boat
Release Date:
17 May 1936
Premiere Information:
World premiere in New York: 14 May 1936
Production Date:
9 December 1935--11 March 1936
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
13 May 1936
Copyright Number:
LP6347
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
110, 112 or 115
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
2043
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Cap'n Andy Hawks's show boat the Cotton Blossom arrives in New Orleans. Andy's daughter Magnolia, a gifted singer, meets Gaylord Ravenal and they make believe they are in love. While rehearsing, 'Nolia's good friend, Julie LaVerne, and her husband, Steve Baker, are accused of miscegenation and are forced to quit the show and leave town. 'Nolia and Gay take their places and, because their romantic involvement onstage mimics their real feelings, they are a hit. Pete Gavanaugh, who caused Julie's ostracism when she refused his advances, then writes to Andy to expose Gay as a murderer who was let off on a verdict of self-defense. After a successful run of their show, Gay and 'Nolia marry with Andy's blessing, even though 'Nolia's mother Parthy objects to the marriage because of Gay's questionable past. A year later, 'Nolia gives birth to Kim during a storm while Gay is away playing cards. Gay returns the next morning and asks 'Nolia to move to Chicago. Initially, the family lives well at the Palmer House while Gay bets on horses, but his money quickly runs out and they are forced to move. When Elly and Frank, former members of the show boat, inquire about a shabby room for rent from which the present tenants are being evicted, they discover the tenants are 'Nolia and Gay. Gay then deserts 'Nolia because he is ashamed that he cannot provide for her and Kim. 'Nolia then performs at the Trocadero after Julie, now an alcoholic, quietly quits so that her old friend 'Nolia can get work. Parthy and Andy then arrive at the Palmer House ... +


Cap'n Andy Hawks's show boat the Cotton Blossom arrives in New Orleans. Andy's daughter Magnolia, a gifted singer, meets Gaylord Ravenal and they make believe they are in love. While rehearsing, 'Nolia's good friend, Julie LaVerne, and her husband, Steve Baker, are accused of miscegenation and are forced to quit the show and leave town. 'Nolia and Gay take their places and, because their romantic involvement onstage mimics their real feelings, they are a hit. Pete Gavanaugh, who caused Julie's ostracism when she refused his advances, then writes to Andy to expose Gay as a murderer who was let off on a verdict of self-defense. After a successful run of their show, Gay and 'Nolia marry with Andy's blessing, even though 'Nolia's mother Parthy objects to the marriage because of Gay's questionable past. A year later, 'Nolia gives birth to Kim during a storm while Gay is away playing cards. Gay returns the next morning and asks 'Nolia to move to Chicago. Initially, the family lives well at the Palmer House while Gay bets on horses, but his money quickly runs out and they are forced to move. When Elly and Frank, former members of the show boat, inquire about a shabby room for rent from which the present tenants are being evicted, they discover the tenants are 'Nolia and Gay. Gay then deserts 'Nolia because he is ashamed that he cannot provide for her and Kim. 'Nolia then performs at the Trocadero after Julie, now an alcoholic, quietly quits so that her old friend 'Nolia can get work. Parthy and Andy then arrive at the Palmer House on New Year's Eve in search of the Ravenals, and Andy discovers 'Nolia singing at the Trocadero. Although the crowd is not receptive to 'Nolia's lyrical voice, Andy gives her support from the audience and she is a success. Soon 'Nolia is an international star. Years pass and she retires from the stage, after which Kim follows in her footsteps. When Kim opens on Broadway, 'Nolia recognizes Gay, who is posing as the stage doorman. After the encore, Kim invites her mother to sing and Gay joins her in song. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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