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 (Bride of Frankenstein).
A rich portrait of changing American entertainment traditions and race relations, Show Boatspans four decades and three generations as it follows the fortunes of the stage-struck Magnolia (The Awful Truth’s 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 (Applause), Hattie McDaniel (Gone with the Wind), Charles Winninger (Beyond Tomorrow), and the great Paul Robeson (The Emperor Jones), whose iconic, soul-shaking rendition of “Ol’ Man River” is one of the crowning glories of the American stage and screen.
New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
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 programme 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
Four performances from the sound prologue of the 1929 film version of Show Boat, including songs from original Broadway cast members Helen Morgan, Jules Bledsoe, and Tess Gardella, 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; producer Orson Welles; and novelist Edna Ferber