Show Boat (1936) - Part 4/16: "Can't Help Lovin' That Man"
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Uploaded on Dec 24, 2009
One of three film versions of the classic Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein stage musical, this Universal production is considered the best of the three by film critics and enthusiasts alike.
Premiering at Washington's National Theatre in the winter of 1927, the original stage show went on to continue its out-of-town tryout in a series of East Coast cities before finally making its Broadway debut at the Ziegfeld Theatre on 27 December, 1927. The original Broadway production was a huge success, playing over 500 performances. The show then embarked on a nation-wide tour after it completed its Broadway run in 1929.
Norma Terris, Broadway's original Magnolia Hawks, went off to Hollywood to make films and actress Irene Dunne took over the role for the remainder of the national tour, which disbanded in 1930.
A revival of the original Zeigfeld production opened at the Casino Theatre on Broadway in 1932. This first Broadway revival reunited much of the original cast and included the great bass Paul Robeson as Joe, for whom the role was actually written for. Unable to join the original production at the Ziegfeld due to other commitments, the role went to Jules Bledsoe. Prior to his appearance in the 1932 Broadway revival, Robeson had played the role in London for which he received critical acclaim and achieved overnight stardom.
After an unsuccessful attempt at converting a silent filmed version of Edna Ferber's novel of the same name--on which the show is based--into the much acclaimed musical version by overlaying musical numbers on the previously shot action, re-shooting key sequences, and incorporating sound, the film rights bought by Universal were put into good use, resulting in this critically acclaimed 1936 film version of the groundbreaking stage musical.
An unusual choice for director considering the genre was James Whale, but his attention to atmospheric detail made him an ideal choice. The head of Universal at the time insisted as much of the original Broadway cast as possible be brought in to do the film. Of those original cast members that eventually joined the film production were Charles Winninger as Captain Andy Hawks; Francis X. Mahoney as Rubberface Smith; Sammy White as Frank Schultz; and Helen Morgan as Julie LaVerne.
Also joining the production were Show Boat alumni Hattie McDaniel, who had appeared in the 1933 West Coast production, as Queenie; Paul Robeson as Joe; Allan Jones, who had appeared in a regional U.S. production, as Gaylord Ravenal; and Irene Dunne as Magnolia Hawks.
By far the most faithful to the original stage version, this 1936 film is almost word for word accurate with the exception of the much altered ending. A considerable amount of songs were cut due to time constraints (although bits remain in the underscoring) but the show's most memorable numbers remain.
Magnolia - Irene Dunne
Gaylord Ravenal - Allan Jones
Captain Andy Hawks - Charles Winninger
Joe - Paul Robeson
Julie - Helen Morgan
Parthy Ann Hawks - Helen Westley
Ellie - Queenie Smith
Frank - Sammy White
Steve - Donald Cook
Queenie - Hattie McDaniel
Rubber Face - Francis X. Mahoney
Kim (as child) - Marilyn Knowlden
Kim (at sixteen) - Sunnie O'Dea
Pete - Arthur Hohl
Vallon - Charles Middleton
Windy - J. Farrell MacDonald
Sam - Clarence Muse
Jim - Charles Wilson
Backwoodsman - Stanley Fields
Jake - Harry Barris
Director - James Whale
Producer - Carl Laemmle Jr.
Stage play, screenplay, and lyrics - Oscar Hammerstein II
Music - Jerome Kern
Cinematographer - John J. Mescall, A.S.C.
Special Cinematographer - John P. Fulton
Art Director - Charles D. Hall
Musical Director - Victor Baravalle
Costumes - Doris Zinkeisen
Choreography - LeRoy Prinz
Editors - Ted Kent, Bernard Burton
Orchestration - Robert Russell Bennett
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