AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Show Boat
Director: Harry Pollard (Dir)
Release Date:   28 Jul 1929
Premiere Information:   World premiere in Palm Beach, FL: 16 Mar 1929
Duration (in mins):   126
Duration (in feet):   11,650
Duration (in reels):   14
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Cast: Prologue: Otis Harlan    
    Helen Morgan    
    Jules Bledsoe    
    Tess "Aunt Jemima" Gardella    
    The Jubilee Singers    
    Carl Laemmle    
    Florenz Ziegfeld    
  Cast: Laura La Plante (Magnolia)  
    Joseph Schildkraut (Gaylord Ravenal)  
    Otis Harlan (Capt. Andy Hawks)  
    Emily Fitzroy (Parthenia Hawks)  
    Alma Rubens (Julie)  
    Elsie Bartlett (Elly)  
    Jack McDonald (Windy)  
    Jane La Verne (Magnolia as a child/Kim)  
    Neely Edwards (Schultzy)  
    Theodore Lorch (Frank)  
    Stepin Fetchit (Joe)  
    Gertrude Howard (Queenie)  
    Ralph Yearsley (The killer)  
    George Chesebro (Steve)  
    Harry Holden (Means)  
    Max Asher (Utility man)  
    Jim Coleman (Stagehand)  
    Carl Herlinger (Wheelsman)  
    The Billbrew Chorus    

Summary: Brought up on a showboat, Magnolia Hawks, the star of her family's river-going revue, marries Gaylord Ravenal, a charming river gambler. Magnolia's father, Captain Andy, is swept overboard in a storm, and Magnolia and Gaylord, harassed by Magnolia's strict, overbearing mother, sell their interest in the showboat to the widow and go to Chicago. Gaylord loses the money at the gambling tables, and, following the suggestion of Magnolia's mother, leaves his family, convinced that they would be better off without him. To support herself and her child, Magnolia goes on the variety stage and makes a success singing Negro spirituals. Magnolia's mother dies, and Magnolia returns to the showboat to be reunited with the reformed Gaylord. 

Production Company: Universal Pictures Corp.  
Distribution Company: Universal Pictures Corp.  
Director: Harry Pollard (Dir)
  Arch Heath (Addl dir)
  Robert Ross (Asst dir)
Producer: Carl Laemmle (Pres)
Writer: Charles Kenyon (Scen)
  Edward J. Montagne (Story supv)
  Harry Pollard (Dial)
  Tom Reed (Dial and titles)
Photography: Gilbert Warrenton (Dir of photog)
  Frank H. Booth (Spec eff photog)
Art Direction: Charles D. Hall (Art dir)
Film Editor: Maurice Pivar (Ed supv)
  Daniel Mandell (Film ed)
  Edward Cahn (Film ed)
Costumes: Johanna Mathieson (Cost)
Music: Joseph Cherniavsky (Mus dir)
Sound: C. Roy Hunter (Rec eng)
Make Up: Jane Rene (Makeup)
Production Misc: Joseph C. Wright (Unit mgr)
Stand In: Eva Olivotti (Singing voice for Laura La Plante)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "Love Sings a Song in My Heart" by Joseph Cherniavsky; "Down South" by William H. Myddleton.
Songs: "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" and "Ol' Man River," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, II; "Bill," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, II and P. G. Wodehouse; "The Lonesome Road," music by Nathaniel Shilkret, lyrics by Gene Austin; "Here Comes The Show Boat," music and lyrics by Billy Rose and Maceo Pinkard; "Coon, Coon, Coon," music by Leo Friedman, lyrics by Gene Jefferson; "Deep River" and other spirituals.
Composer: Gene Austin
  Joseph Cherniavsky
  Leo Friedman
  Oscar Hammerstein II
  Gene Jefferson
  Jerome Kern
  William H. Myddleton
  Maceo Pinkard
  Billy Rose
  Nathaniel Shilkret
  P. G. Wodehouse
Source Text: 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).
Authors: Edna Ferber
  Oscar Hammerstein II
  Jerome Kern

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Universal Pictures Corp. 27/4/1929 dd/mm/yyyy LP339

Physical Properties: Si with sd seq: Talking and singing seq, sd eff, and mus score by Movietone
  Sd, also Si: Also si; 10,290 ft.
  b&w:

 
Genre: Musical
  Musical
Sub-Genre: Show business
  Historical
 
Subjects (Major): African Americans
  Chicago (IL)
  Desertion (Marital)
  Gamblers
  Mississippi River
  Showboats
  Singers
  Spirituals (Songs)
  United States--South

Note: Universal Pictures acquired the rights to the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein score after the film had been shot as a part-talking drama. Several scenes were then reshot to include songs, and an eighteen-minute sound prologue was added. The prologue included short speeches by Carl Laemmle and Florenz Ziegfeld and songs from the stage production were performed by Helen Morgan, Jules Bledsoe and Tess "Aunt Jemima" Gardella. Two other filmed versions of the play were made, in 1936 and 1951 (see entries below).
Show Boat marked the motion picture debut of singer-actress Helen Morgan (1900--1941). Morgan also appeared as "Julie LaVerne" in the 1936 Show Boat . (For additional information about Morgan’s life, please consult the entry below for the 1957 biographical film The Helen Morgan Story ).  

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Afro American   8 Jun 1929   p. 9.
Chicago Tribune   7 Feb 1930   p. 25.
Film Daily   5 May 1929   p. 8.
New York Times   18 Apr 1929   p. 32.
Photoplay   Jun 1929   p. 55.
Variety   24 Apr 1929   p. 13.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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