Show Boat

Film

Musicals

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Not surprisingly, Arthur Freed's production values put this ahead of Whale's 1936 version as sheer spectacle, but the earlier version had two big plusses in Robeson (Warfield here is secure, but lacks the mystique), and Helen Morgan (here Ava Gardner's voice is dubbed, and try as she might she can't shake off the big star bit). Keel and Grayson are as colourless as ever, but no less so than Jones and Dunne were in 1936. As a film musical it survives on sheer class and some of Jerome Kern's richest melodies. As an anti-racist tract, though, it must have looked a lot less ingenuous when it first opened than it does now. Instead, enjoy the unashamed sentiment of the tale, and the spirited hoofing of Marge and Gower Champion.
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Release details

UK release:

1951

Duration:

108 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5
LiveReviews|2
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Scott MacDonough

After more than 60 years, MGM's "SHOW BOAT" still sails far above all the many other versions I've seen. Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel are vocal and histrionic perfection as Magnolia and Gaylord; their sublime renditions of the Kern/Hammerstein ballads truly touch the emotions, especially "You Are Love" which most singers wouldn't even dare to attempt. The two showstopping song-and-dance numbers by Marge & Gower Champion make one regret the sparsity of their Hollywood musicals. And while I would have preferred Lena Horne as Julie, Ava Gardner does herself proud. Edna Ferber's novel has always suffered from episodic, generation-spanning tedium, but this version condenses it beautifully. The lavish 1994 Broadway revival was wildly overrated and lumbered on for three indeed spectacular--but ultimately--tiring hours. This version does the job in 107 minutes, glowing in sun-dappled three-strip Technicolor the likes of which you'll never seen again..

Scott MacDonough

After more than 60 years, MGM's "SHOW BOAT" still sails far above all the many other versions I've seen. Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel are vocal and histrionic perfection as Magnolia and Gaylord; their sublime renditions of the Kern/Hammerstein ballads truly touch the emotions, especially "You Are Love" which most singers wouldn't even dare to attempt. The two showstopping song-and-dance numbers by Marge & Gower Champion make one regret the sparsity of their Hollywood musicals. And while I would have preferred Lena Horne as Julie, Ava Gardner does herself proud. Edna Ferber's novel has always suffered from episodic, generation-spanning tedium, but this version condenses it beautifully. The lavish 1994 Broadway revival was wildly overrated and lumbered on for three indeed spectacular--but ultimately--tiring hours. This version does the job in 107 minutes, glowing in sun-dappled three-strip Technicolor the likes of which you'll never seen again..