Show Boat is a 1951 Technicolor film based on the musical by Jerome Kern (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (script and lyrics) and the novel by Edna Ferber.
Filmed previously by Universal in 1936, the Kern-Hammerstein musical was remade in 1951 by MGM, this version starring Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner, and Howard Keel, with Joe E. Brown, Marge Champion, Gower Champion, William Warfield, Robert Sterling, Agnes Moorehead and Leif Erickson. None of the members of the original Broadway cast of the show appeared in this version, and Helen Morgan (the original Julie), Jules Bledsoe (the original Joe), and Edna May Oliver (the original Parthy), had already died by the time of this film’s release (both Morgan and Bledsoe died before they reached fifty).
The 1951 film version of Show Boat was adapted from the original 1927 stage musical by John Lee Mahin after Jack McGowan and George Wells had turned in two discarded screenplays, and was directed by George Sidney. Filmed in the typical MGM lavish style, this version is the most financially successful of the film adaptations of the play, and is one of MGM’s most popular musicals, though arguably one of the studio’s less inventive ones. The film, however, was arguably more cinematic than the 1936 version — the boat was seen winding its way down the river several times, and there were two scenes in which the boat was shown leaving the dock, while the 1936 film version was so faithful in following the stage play that the boat was seen moving only at the very beginning of the film.
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