MovieChat Forums > Show Boat (1936) Discussion > Easily the best version

Easily the best version


This 1936 version of "Show Boat" has, by far, got to be the best version of the landmark musical. The cast is amazing, James Whale did a great job directing, and the production values are top-notch, even for Universal. And this is nothing against the other two versions which were also good, but this one definitely outshines them. I think it's the incredible cast that really makes it as great as it is.

I don't understand why this version is not on DVD, and why no company has bothered to issue the soundtrack. I was suprised when I read that in the trivia section. I would of thought that the soundtrack was at least released on vinyl. And hopefully it will make it to DVD soon.

reply

It was released on vinyl, by one of those so-called "pirate" record companies, but never by an official label.

reply

Once in a while, a Brazilian-issue DVD of the 1936 version shows up on Ebay. If memory serves, it's Region 0 (playable anywhere), English with removable Portugese subtitles. Usually posted under "SHOW BOAT(or SHOWBOAT)DVD" although the actual foreign title is MAGNOLIA. Usually "Buy It Now", around $25-30 plus shipping, when it's there.
I should think that the current US tie-up lies in the fact that MGM already has the 1951 version on a DVD release. I'm hoping Warner Bros. will eventually do a DVD version of MGM's "Complete Show Boat" laser disc set, with all three films and extras. It was a gem. Complications may also exist with Criterion, which had a deluxe laser disc set of the 1936 version out around the same time as well. Also a gem. I think both sets used the same digital transfer. Used copies of these laser disc releases also show up on Ebay occasionally.

reply

Warner Home Video has the rights to all three versions -1929, 1936, and 1951. They have said they are working on releasing all three versions together in a set in either 2008 or 2009. They may be close, because last month TCM aired the 1936 version, and it has never looked or sounded better. Plus TCM did something very strange. They instructed viewers on how to activate the commentary track that could be played as the movie aired. Commentary tracks are a sure sign an official DVD release is in the works.

reply

Hopefully they don't get that guy Steven Boyd who did the really patronizing commentary on "Cabin in the Sky." WB thinks it needs to apologize for these groundbreaking movies.

Did I not love him, Cooch? MY OWN FLESH I DIDN'T LOVE BETTER!!! But he had to say 'Nooooooooo'

reply

James Whale does some amazing things in this film. I love the shot of the miscegenation scene over Joe's shoulder from the balcony. Joe IS old man river. He sees all, and knows all, over all of the span of time. Old man river has seen this before, and will see it again.
And the shot of Magnolia getting into blackface for her number. Reminds me of Bergman's "Magic Flute".

reply

-on a really obscure record label called Xeno. (I don't have it, but I read about this in a book.) Curiously though, Allan Jones's tracks from the film have been released on a CD exclusively devoted to songs sung by him.

reply

They really are two different versions which elicit two different responses. The 1951 Louis Freed/MGM is far more upbeat. With it's focus on the miscegnation--it takes on a different theme.

The 1936 movie ends up being about Julie Ravenal's story from the 1880s Show Boat to the mid 1920s, or there abouts. So there really does end up two different responses and interpretations to the movie...

reply

The opening credits sequence is opulent...beautiful production values. Good work by Whale et al, as usual.

reply

Arthur Freed produced the 1951 MGM version. There is no Louis Freed. Arthur Freed was by far the greatest producer of movie musicals and we should get his name right, although this is the one MGM musical I dislike. Too much MGM at the expense of Kern and Hammerstein.

reply

And the way it was filmed in the 1951 version was so garish and ugly.

reply