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Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s immortal musical adaptation of Edna Ferber’s sprawling novel receives its most faithful and enduring cinematic adaptation under the elegant direction of James Whale. A rich portrait of changing American entertainment traditions and race relations, Show Boat spans four decades and three generations as it follows the fortunes of the stage-struck Magnolia (Irene Dunne), an aspiring actor whose journey takes her from her family’s humble floating playhouse in the 1880s South to the height of fame in the 1930s North. The cast of show-business legends includes Helen Morgan, Hattie McDaniel, Charles Winninger, and the great Paul Robeson, whose iconic, soul-shaking rendition of “Ol’ Man River” is one of the crowning glories of the American stage and screen.

FILM INFO

  • James Whale
  • United States
  • 1936
  • 113 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.37:1
  • English
  • Spine #1021SPECIAL FEATURES
    • New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
    • Audio commentary from 1989 featuring American-musical historian Miles Kreuger
    • New interview with James Whale biographer James Curtis
    • Recognizing Race in “Show Boat,” a new interview program featuring professor and author Shana L. Redmond
    • Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist (1979), an Academy Award–winning short documentary by Saul J. Turell, newly restored
    • Two performances from the sound prologue of the 1929 film version of Show Boat,plus twenty minutes of silent excerpts from the film, with audio commentary by Kreuger
    • Two radio adaptations of Show Boat, featuring stage and screen cast members Allan Jones, Helen Morgan, and Charles Winninger; actor Orson Welles; and novelist Edna Ferber
    • PLUS: An essay by critic Gary Giddins

    New cover design by Raphael Geroni

    March 31, 2020

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Kevin Collins

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Ronald Epstein

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bujaki

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As much as I dislike the MGM version, I agree that this is a missed opportunity to release all 3 versions. The LD is still indispensable for the plethora of extras and for the inclusion of the other versions.
I still remember the glorious day, 27 December 1977, the 50th anniversary of the Broadway premiere of Show Boat, when MoMA showed all three film versions in stunning 35mm prints.
 

Lord Dalek

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I guess Warner wanted to do the 1951 themselves. What survives from 1929 is on here though.
 
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Jack P

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The MGM LD set had the entire 1929 film (minus it's sound for most sections). It looks like Criterion is just porting over the shorter parts of the 1929 film they originally presented on LD.
 

ColbyCo82

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The MGM LD set had the entire 1929 film (minus it's sound for most sections). It looks like Criterion is just porting over the shorter parts of the 1929 film they originally presented on LD.
Yes, its my understanding that the 1929 version survives complete. I also believe the sound discs that were missing when the laser disc was made have since been found, but i could be wrong.

My heart sank a little when I saw the 1929 version wasn't being included as an extra in its complete form. I'm afraid that was the only way it was going to get a commercial release.
 

Astairefan

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Yay! Now I'm up to four must-have releases going into next year! I'll admit, like others, I am disappointed it's not a box set of all three films (although I would prefer they also threw in Till The Clouds Roll By), but we only really knew about this film (and, for all we know, they're not popular enough and/or too expensive to restore to release in a box set). Certainly one of my most anticipated releases for 2020, and March can't get here soon enough!
 

Mike Frezon

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Yup. This'll be a must-have for me, too. Very exciting announcement.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Matt Hough

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I'm so glad Criterion has decided to port over the outstanding 1989 commentary track by Miles Kreuger that was on the Laserdisc.
Absolutely. He is the go-to authority on all things Show Boat. His book on the three film versions (and other incarnations of the story/musical) is a classic.
 

Garysb

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For those, like me, who are disappointed that the set does not include all three versions of "Showboat", TCM will be showing all three , 1929, 1936, and 1951 beginning at 8:30 AM on Monday December 30.
This is part of their December series of showing films and their remakes .

8:30 AM
SHOW BOAT ( 1929)

First screen version of the classic musical about romance among the musical performers on a Mississippi showboat.

Dir: Harry Pollard Cast: Otis Harlan , Helen Morgan , Jules Bledsoe .

BW- 118 mins,

10:30 AM
SHOW BOAT ( 1936)

Riverboat entertainers find love, laughs and hardships as they sail along "Old Man River."

Dir: James Whale Cast: Irene Dunne , Allan Jones , Charles Winninger .

BW- 114 mins, CC,

12:30 PM
SHOW BOAT ( 1951)

Riverboat entertainers find love, laughs and hardships as they sail along "Old Man River."

Dir: George Sidney Cast: Kathryn Grayson , Ava Gardner , Howard Keel .

C- 108 mins, CC,

 

Garysb

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Interesting that the movies kept getting shorter. There were several versions of the show on Broadway but I believe they ran close to 3 hours with intermission.
 
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