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Show Boat, part 1 December 20, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Jerome Kern, Movies, Musicals, Oscar Hammerstein II, Peter Pan, Theater.


This month marks the eightieth anniversary of the original production of Show Boat, the work that ushered in the Golden Age of the Broadway musical and defined the genre for two generations. In honor of which, the non-blog does not present the movie that remains the defining Hollywood version.

The Broadway production of Show Boat was produced by Florenz Ziegfeld, with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the novel by Edna Ferber. The original production ran for a year-and-a-half but lost money due to long rehearsals and production expense, and Ziegfeld subsequently went bankrupt after the stock-market crash.

A 1929 movie of the original novel starring Laura La Plante and Joseph Schildkraut was released in a partial-talkie version with some of the original cast performing in a musical prologue. Seven years later, the first full musical version was directed by James Whale (of Frankenstein and Gods and Monsters fame), and stars Irene Dunne as Magnolia, Allan Jones as Ravenal, Charles Winninger as Cap’n Andy, Paul Robeson as Joe, Helen Morgan as Julie, Helen Westley as Parthy, Queenie Smith as Ellie, Sammy White as Frank, Donald Cook as Steve, Francis X. Mahoney as Rubber Face and Hattie McDaniel as Queenie.

Morgan, Winninger, White and Mahoney played the roles they performed in the original production. (The role of Joe was written for Paul Robeson, but he left during rehearsals of the original production and was replaced by Jules Bledsoe, later appearing in the London premiere, the 1932 revival and this film.)

John Harkrider, costume designer for the original production and for several editions of the Ziegfeld Follies, designed and directed the title sequence.

(NOTE: today’s section runs 24:30)


The opening titles; “Cotton Blossom”

Gaylord Ravenal sings “Where’s The Mate For Me”; Magnolia and Gaylord sing “Make Believe”

Joe sings “Ol’ Man River”

Helen Morgan et al. sing “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man Of Mine”


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