A reluctantly retired vaudevillian clashes with his producer son who thinks his father's entertainment is passe and audiences need something more sophisticated. Meanwhile the producer's father and sister secretly produce their own show.
Roy Del Ruth
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The "Cotton Blossom", owned by the Hawk family, is the show boat where everyone comes for great musical entertainment down south. Julie LaVerne and her husband are the stars of the show. After a snitch on board calls the local police that Julie (who's half- African-American) is married to a white man, they are forced to leave the show boat. The reason being, that down south interracial marriages are forbidden. Magnolia Hawk, Captain Andy Hawks' daughter, becomes the new show boat attraction and her leading man is Gaylord Ravenal, a gambler. The two instantly fall in love, and marry, without Parthy Hawks approval. Magnolia and Gaylord leave the "Cotton Blossom" for a whirl-wind honeymoon and to live in a Pl: fantasy world. Magnolia soon faces reality quickly, that gambling means more to Gaylord than anything else. Magnolia confronts Gaylord and after he gambles away their fortune he leaves her - not knowing she is pregnant. Magnolia is left penniless and pregnant, and is left to fend ...Written by
MGM vied for the rights to film "Show Boat" as early as 1938. Universal Studios had owned the rights to the musical since 1929, and had made earlier versions in 1929 (with different songs) and 1936. MGM had hopes of starring the reigning operatic duo of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald in the roles of Gaylord and Magnolia. but when that didn't happen, they showcased new stars Tony Martin and Kathryn Grayson - in a kind of screen test as Ravenal and Magnolia in the Kern film biography Till the Clouds Roll By (1946) (and Grayson did eventually appear in the 1951 "Show Boat"). The third lead in the film, the biracial Julie, was considered at various times for Judy Garland and Dinah Shore. Shore, although not a major film star, did have a somewhat exotic visage at the time - her hair and eyes were very dark, and she did almost as many blues and torch songs as a band singer in the 1940's as did Garland. Lena Horne mentions in her biography that she very much wanted to portray Julie, but only got as far as performing a single number in the "Clouds" film in the opening "Show Boat" vignette. America, after all, was still a segregated nation in 1950. Interracial romance was still taboo on screen - and Julie kisses and romantically interacts with her white husband several times. See more »
In some prints, Leif Erickson's name is misspelled (as Lief Erickson) in the opening credits. See more »
Cap'n Andy Hawks:
(hearing of Magnolia's engagement to Ravenal) Son, I hope it's not Saturday night one minute, with a cold Monday morning to follow. Whatever happens, Nollie, always remember to smile.
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Some prints of this film spell Leif Erickson's name the correct way in the opening credits; others spell it as "Lief Erickson". See more »
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. See more »
The coded language being used to criticize this film is ridiculous. Too 'PC' for showing less of the shiftless Negro comic relief...too 'PC' for showing William Warfield sing "Ol' Man River" with operatic sophistication (he was an opera singer, for pity's sake!!)...an accusation that Lena Horne claimed to be promised this film? Where did THAT one come from? According to Ms. Horne's documentary IN HER OWN WORDS (which periodically airs on PBS), she never said she was promised the film, she said she was offered a shot at the stage revival (this, apparently, came from Jerome Kern himself before he passed away) back in 1945-1946. That never materialized and she did 'TILL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY, probably always keeping the idea of doing the film in the back of her head. MGM, so the story goes, apparently had many speculative cast packages for this film once upon a time: Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald were considered in the 30's as Gaylord and Magnolia, then in the 40's, Tony Martin and Kathryn Grayson-- with either Dinah Shore or Judy Garland as Julie (in retrospect, this wouldn't have been that far-fetched; Shore was a dark-haired, decidedly exotic looking, band singer at the time, and Garland had recorded several Kern songs as singles, including "Bill"), but Garland was already fired from the studio by the time they started filming. The final decision to use the gorgeous Ava Gardner was just fine, thank you; I just wished Gardner was allowed to keep her own singing voice in the final film. And as far as justifying not using Horne (as someone else noted) because she is 'obviously a woman of color:' if the studio felt that way, they wouldn't have created a special 'Light Egyptian' face powder for her to make her darker on film (claiming that without this makeup she photographed white.) The film is wonderful in its rich Technicolor cinematography, costumes, and lush music. Yes, the book has been shortened to make the film less than two hours; otherwise, it would be nearly four hours, just as it is on stage. And when it is remade again as a film (as I imagine it will be someday), will you then complain that it is "too long?"
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