‘Show Boat’ on Blu-ray

Category: Blu-ray's and DVD's

The 1951 musical Show Boat is actually the third version of this intriguing story of life on the river. Previous versions were produced in 1929 and 1936. They are all based on the popular novel by Edna Ferber, and each version adds more and more to the entertainment value of the story.

Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Ava Gardner, Joe E. Brown, Agnes Moorehead, and Marge and Gower Champion are front and center in this classic musical. The story centers on the lives and loves of performers on a Show Boat as it travels down the Mississippi. The social mores of the day intrude on the happiness of the characters, as the divisions and racism of the time are predominant themes.

Memorable songs (“Ol’ Man River,” “Make Believe,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man,” and more) make up this wonderful score, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Captain Andy Hawks (Brown) runs the Show Boat with his wife Parthy (Moorehead). Their daughter Magnolia (Grayson) dreams of joining the cast however her mother has kept her in the background until now. Magnolia meets a suave traveling gambler named Gaylord Ravenal (Keel) who sweeps her off her feet.

In the meantime, the main star of the show, Julie (Gardner), finds herself in a difficult situation. She has been living as a white woman however has black blood running through her veins, and in this era, if there is one drop of black blood in a person, he or she is considered black. This causes upheaval on the boat when Julie’s secret is discovered.

As the story unravels the lives of the characters, the musical acts are woven through the film. Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein have created a memorable and delightful film.

Show Boat is part of the Warner Archive Collection. It is available from their website and online where Blu-rays are sold. This film is not rated however it is suitable for all ages.

About the Author

Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment industry for over 25 years. She also writes about products and travel. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books, is the entertainment correspondent for Good Day Orange County, and has her own TV show, Beyond the Red Carpet, on Village Television in Orange County. She is a longstanding member of the Los Angeles Press Club and the Television Critics Association and is accredited by the MPAA.