Show Boat (1936)

Part of the Decades of Musicals

Director: James Whale
Certificate: Unknown
Format: 35mm


The first stop on our monthly jazz-hands journey through the decades via the glorious medium of musical film.

Though strictly speaking 1929 is where it started, the 30s provide the earliest surviving musicals, so we start with a classic that tours love, despair, race relations, boats, alcohol and, of course, those songs.

Admission includes a glass of punch and a post-film sing song round the joanna!


Show Boat, directed by James Whale of Bride of Frankenstein fame, is not only the first Hollywood musical to break the mould with regards an emphasis on the relationship between plot and songs, it is also thought of by many film critics as the best musical ever to be committed to celluloid.
With songs by the great Jerome Kern and script and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Show Boat follows the turbulent fortunes of the "Cotton Blossom Floating Palace Theatre" as it charts the waters of the Mississippi. Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, the musical addresses issues of race and miscegenation that must be considered radical for its time and, with its haunting songs and a tragic subplot, manages to avoid the mawkish pitfalls of many later musicals. 
Including such classics as Can't Help Lovin Dat Man and Ol' Man River (sung by the incomparable Paul Robeson), Show Boat promises to be a brilliant start to our Decades of Musicals programme. Come early for a glass of rum punch to toast the film and stay for a sing-song round the joanna…if audience members are brave enough…!
Here is a sneak preview of Robeson singing Ol Man River. A performance that was so good, one take was enough!
I spent many a happy hour watching this film as a child and am so glad we managed to find a 35mm print of it to show at Star and Shadow. Do come along on Sunday for almost two hours of musical AND visual pleasure.
Your dedicated Star and Shadow Programmer

Other films in the Decades of Musicals:


Film: 42nd Street (1933)

7 Jun 2009, 7:30 p.m.

The quintessential "backstage" musical


Film: Ziegfeld Follies (1946)

5 Jul 2009, 7:30 p.m.


Film: An American In Paris (1951)

6 Sep 2009, 7:30 p.m.

We push on through to the fifties with this Gene Kelly / Vincente Minnelli classic. The story of ex-G.I. Jerry's (Gene Kelly) sojourn in Paris, this has everything you could ask for in a musical. Gems such as 'I Got Rhythm', Embraceable You and Nice Work If You Can Get It, glorious Technicolor (as ever) and an 18 minute long mini-ballet. Quite possibly why celluloid was dreamt up.


Film: Jailhouse Rock (1957)

4 Oct 2009, 7:30 p.m.

1950s musical


Film: Kiss Me Kate (1953)

1 Nov 2009, 7:30 p.m.

"The Greatest of all Great MGM Musicals!" Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew meets Cole Porter in this play within a musical within a film. Originally filmed in 3D - expect a surfeit of objects thrown at the camera as well as classic ditties 'So In Love', 'Too Darn Hot' and (in canny preparation for next week's festival of the same name!) 'Wunderbar'. Keep your eyes peeled for the Bob Fosse cameo.


Film: The Proud Valley (1940)

6 Dec 2009, 7:30 p.m.

Musical or manifesto?


Film: Les Demoiselles De Rochefort (1967)

10 Jan 2010, 7:30 p.m.

Agnes Varda and Jacques Demy collaborate directing the charming Catherine Deneuve and Gene Kelly. Its a companion piece to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg 1964 using the same magical combination of a Michel Legrand score, immaculate kitsch art direction and a romantic story line to make the heart sing too.


Film: The Sound Of Music (1965)

7 Feb 2010, 7:30 p.m.

'The Hills are alive with the sound of music, with songs they have sung for a thousand years'. Come and see this ever-favourite Hollywood musical. Every song is a classic that you will want to belt out, or whistle, or hum, or mime while you watch the story of love, fun and song unfold on screen.


Film: New York, New York (1977)

4 Apr 2010, 7:30 p.m.

Scorsese's homage to the 1940's MGM musical and to the titular city.


Film: Fame (1980)

5 Sep 2010, 7:30 p.m.

We sashay into the questionable world of 80s musicals with this tale of unadulterated, grabbing ambition. Come and remember the leg warmers, remember the routines, remember the songs and, most importantly, remember…my name. Because if they've really got what it takes, it's going to take everything they've got.


Film: Top Hat (1935)

9 Dec 2010, 7:30 p.m.

For the last Decades of Musicals film we are throwing chronology to the wind and going back to the 1930s where, let's be honest, all the best musicals live. Astaire and Rogers partner up again and croon such classics as 'Cheek to Cheek' and, of course, 'Top Hat…'.