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Show Boat (1929/1936/1951)

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First Edition of "Show Boat" (1926)

Based on a best-selling novel by Edna Ferber and its ground-breaking Broadway musical adaptation by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, SHOW BOAT, with its colorful characters, provocative drama, all-American love story and romantic river locales, was destined for silver screen success.  Each a lavish production in its own time, all three film adaptations of SHOW BOAT -- from Universal's 1929 silent-with-sound-sequences melodrama, through its stylized 1936 multi-generational musical, to MGM's glamorous 1951 Technicolor condensation -- were both critical and box-office champions of their day.  The ravages of time and the wisdom of hindsight have aged each of them differently however, and as the primary legacy for this watershed-yet-rarely-performed musical and its auspicious-yet-infrequently-read literary foundation, all three films offer unique perspectives on their source material and continue to influence interpretations of the times, places and people they depict.

Because its author had received the Pulitzer Prize for her novel So Big the previous year, hopes were high when Edna Ferber's SHOW BOAT was first serialized in Woman's Home Companion in 1926.

This page is still under construction.

"Show Boat" - 1939 Pocket Books Edition
sheet music to "Ol' Man River" showing original lyrics

program page - 1929

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Main Page | 1929 Film | 1936 Film | 1951 Film


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