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Show Boat (1951) 1951

NR CC

It's an Oscar-nominated musical look at the lives and loves of a show boat theater troupe aboard an old-fashioned Mississippi riverboat.

Starring:
Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner
Runtime:
1 hour, 47 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

Buy Movie SD $9.99
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Product Details

Genres Drama, Romance, Musical, Kids & Family
Director George Sidney
Starring Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner
Supporting actors Howard Keel, Joe E. Brown, Marge Champion, Gower Champion, Robert Sterling, Agnes Moorehead, Leif Erickson, William Warfield, Boyd Ackerman, Bette Arlen, Mary Bezemes, Chet Brandenburg, Carol Brewster, Peter Camlin, Sue Casey, Chick Chandler, Linda Christian, Sheila Clark
Studio Warner Bros.
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
This version of Show Boat was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1951. It is one of the finest movie musicals ever made and was the second biggest money maker of all films released in 1951. This movie represented MGM at their best. However, there are a number of people who prefer the earlier 1936 Universal version of Show Boat to this one. To see why, there are two different ways to take this movie into consideration...
First, as a screen adaptation of the Broadway play. If a person takes the movie in that way, then he/she will find that this version is dreadfully unfaithful to the B'way original (that is the common complaint about this movie). The 1936 Universal version is generally accepted as the most faithful version (which, really, it is, out of all 3 versions; 1929, 1936, 1951). I cannot go into too many particulars on that version, as I have never seen it. But from what I've read, it generally follows the play scene by scene, with only the ending altered. A few songs were added for that version and one song, "Why Do I Love You?," dropped for running time. Someone please correct me on that if I'm wrong. This 1951 version cuts down the role of Joe and all but eliminates the Queenie character (who actually had a fairly substantial role on stage).
[Please note: the 1929 version is actually a part silent/part talkie screen adaptation of the original novel. After the Kern/Hammerstein play opened, a few songs were added.]
Second, as a movie-musical in its own right...
If one does not take this movie as a screen version of the Broadway musical, it is a lot easier to see where this movie soars. What a movie! Excellent cast, fantastic sets, gorgeous sound, and lush technicolor make this version a feast for both eye and ear.
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Format: DVD
So what if this isn't very faithful scriptwise. The story they did have, plus the music, plus the singing, kept me glued to my seat, unable to take my eyes off it. Not since West Side Story has a movie musical had this effect on me. I suppose that if you grew up seeing the stage play, you might be taken aback by the cuts, but how many of you would really be willing to sit and watch a movie for the four hours that the original play takes? You can't even sit through Gone With the Wind without taking a little "intermission." The singing is incredible. I love to hear Kathryn Grayson hit those oh-so-high notes, and I love to hear Howard Keel, well, anytime. After hearing the soundtrack I was kind of mad that they didn't let Ava Gardner do her own singing, but her wonderful performance makes you forget about it. One reason I am glad they changed the story for the movie is when we see Julie at the very end. It's the kind of bittersweet finishing touch that gets ya choked up no matter how many times you see it. So buy this movie, gosh darnit, and be prepared to sit back and enjoy a cinematic masterpiece.
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Format: DVD
The 1951 film version of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's groundbreaking operetta, Show Boat, is one of the most beloved movie musicals of all time. The highest grossing picture of 1951, it has attracted several generations of appreciative audiences through countless theatrical re-releases and on home video. This DVD release showcases Show Boat's justly famous Technicolor cinematography better than any other previous video format. The opening sequence alone could well serve as a demo for the visual capabilities of the DVD medium. No motion picture, before or since, has the rich, incredibly saturated palette of colors displayed in Show Boat. Although this DVD version was made from the most recent Technicolor restoration of this film, there are still a few scenes (especially large blue speckles in the Ol' Man River sequence) which could benefit from digital cleaning and enhancement. Considering that Show Boat is approaching its fiftieth anniversary this year, these minor flaws do not seriously detract from the overall excellence of the image. Alas, the same can't be said for the sound. Although MGM recently did a surround stereo mix from the original multi track recordings of Show Boat, this DVD uses an older monaural mix, which while clean and dynamic, is no match for the superb picture. The current laserdisc version uses the surround stereo mix and it sounds truly awesome. The laserdisc also has running commentary by the film's director, George Sidney, which should have been included on this DVD. Warner Bros., the current owners of this film, should reissue Show Boat on DVD with a 5:1 mix derived from the surround stereo. Then the sound would equal Show Boat's spectacular picture quality.Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape
Okay, the movie does have that grand sense of MGM style that only that studio could bring to a musical. And Ava Gardner is wonderful as Julie. Having said that, this version pales before its magnificent 1936 predecessor because MGM decided to totally rip out the guts and substance of the original musical that has made it an enduring classic since 1927. All we're left with are the feel-good elements and that in the end makes this version of "Show Boat" something it should not be. What happened to Queenie, such a prominent character in the original? The wonderful angry middle section of "Ole Man River?" How can MGM be so stupid as to take out Capn'Andy's best part from the show, where he has to act out the melodrama singlehandedly (something that Joe E. Brown would have been born to do)? Why is Magnolia made less of an independent woman by having her go home instead of becoming a success? While the 1936 version was sadly truncated in some sections it at least managed to retain the essence of what makes "Show Boat" a musical classic. MGM's version only gives us a sugarcoated edition that has it's moments, but ultimately fails.
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