Off Topic Messages

Show Boat (1936) coming to DVD!

Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:16 am

It takes rather a lot to excite me these days, but Warner Bros have just announced via a short teaser trailer on youtube that their archive series is releasing the 1936 version of Show Boat, a film that has been unavailable on home video for around twenty years. The version of the musical that has been available since then is the 1951 version which might look pretty but lacks the grit of the earlier version, with it being replaced by a prettiness that really doesn't fit in with the wonderful stage musical. It's worth saying the 1936 version is actually the second version filmed, with the first being from 1929 - and my guess is that will appear in time too, as it exists with the exception of some of the sound of the talking sequences.

The 1936 Show Boat manages to capture the darkness of the 1927 stage musical and, despite being made during the period of the Production Code, doesn't shy away from the difficult themes of that show, most notably the anti-racism message. This has got confused over the years, with some citing that the film itself is racist, which is pure nonsense. It shows racism, sure, but it's difficult to give an anti-racism message without showing racism in action. What perhaps is most remarkable is that the film is directed by James Whale, director of Frankenstein, The Old Dark House and Bride of Frankenstein. In many ways, this was his last great work. His direction is superb throughout, and his filming of Ol' Man River (sung here be Paul Robeson) is both innovative and moving.

Paul Robeson, in a relatively small role, steals the film – and his performance is perhaps what the film is best remembered for today. Well,that and the remarkable opening titles. However, there are also fine performances from Irene Dunne, Allan Jones (father of Jack Jones), Hattie McDaniel and, most of all, Helen Morgan. What’s more, the vast majority of the brilliant musical score is retained for the film (only around ten numbers made it to the 1951 version), plus three songs were written for the film itself including the memorable “Ah Still Suits Me”, sung by Robeson and McDaniel.

This is a special release on a personal level too. I associate the film with someone I knew as a kid, and who passed away in 1996. Over the course of our fifteen year friendship she became a Grandmother figure and introduced me to the films of the 1920s and 1930s, and allowed me to understand what they could mean to people aside from the obvious narrative of the film. I started off hating having her sitting me down in front of the telly to watch this or that film, and then when I was ten we sat and watched Show Boat together and everything clicked. So, if it wasn’t for Show Boat I wouldn’t have ended up doing what I do for a living these days. We saw the film together again a few months before she passed away – and it’s that TV screening I’ve held on to on VHS, but the picture quality is pretty awful.

So, this is rather exciting news both from the point of view of a film buff and, more importantly, from a personal point of view. The release has been a long time coming (a three-DVD boxed set of all three versions was announced around six or seven years ago, but never materialized). It’s great that Warner are continuing their effort to release all of the films in their vaults (this was a Universal production, but the rights were bought up by MGM when they did the remake). Fifteen years into the DVD era, we are finally getting an issue of what WB have said is one of the most requested films for release. The top of that list is, apparently, Porgy and Bess – let’s hope we have good news regarding that some time soon.

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Robeson's remarkable charisma comes to the fore in Ah Still Suits Me. What a smile!

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Re: Show Boat (1936) coming to DVD!

Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:19 am

Robeson is fantastic in this film.

On a side note, one of my favorite of all the Presley home demos is his November 1960 duet with Nancy Sharp on "Make Believe."


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As a student at Washington University in St. Louis, Nancy sang professionally in the chorus of the St. Louis Municipal Opera, before changing her major from music to costume design.


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With Nancy Sharp, "Wild in the Country," Napa, CA - November 1960


Of course, they're likely pulling from the later MGM version, sung by Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel:

Show Boat (1951) -- (Movie Clip) Make Believe
http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/434077/Show-Boat-Movie-Clip-Make-Believe.html

Re: Show Boat (1936) coming to DVD!

Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:35 am

It's the only version for me!!

Re: Show Boat (1936) coming to DVD!

Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:55 pm

Jolly good news!

James Whale's version of SHOWBOAT is my favorite musical, for too many reasons to go into, together with WEST SIDE STORY.

I hope the Warner Archive edition will be a blu-ray and that it will include, perhaps as a supplement, the 1927 line-up version.

I'm reliably informed that the Gershwin estate disapproves of PORGY & BESS and is preventing it from being released; also, Sidney Poitier doesn't want it out, either, having made the film under contract but against his will. So don't expect it anytime soon.

Re: Show Boat (1936) coming to DVD!

Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:18 pm

Richard--W wrote:Jolly good news!

James Whale's version of SHOWBOAT is my favorite musical, for too many reasons to go into, together with WEST SIDE STORY.

I hope the Warner Archive edition will be a blu-ray and that it will include, perhaps as a supplement, the 1927 line-up version.

I'm reliably informed that the Gershwin estate disapproves of PORGY & BESS and is preventing it from being released; also, Sidney Poitier doesn't want it out, either, having made the film under contract but against his will. So don't expect it anytime soon.


Well, the archive issues are DVDR, as is this one, but some are also getting Blu-ray treatments too, but only further on down the road after the initial release.

(corrected) Apparantly, the 1951 film is causing problems for WB with regards to restoration. The 1929 film has been on TCM a number of times in America, but my understanding is that some previously lost elements have been found for that, and so presumably a new restoration is under way or may even have been completed. The 1927 material will probably be issued with that, as it was actually used a prologue to that film. There was also an all-silent version of the 1929 film as well, but three reels of that version are missing - but, then again, it may be that new footage of that has been found and they are holding back until they have access.

I'd also like to see a release of the 1989 filmed stage version of the musical which was recorded for PBS I think. The version filmed featured all of the previously cut material from the show - which is also included in the wonderful 3CD set recorded around the same time.

Interestingly the 1927 material was on youtube until recently, but now appears to be gone - which is possibly a promising sign of a forthcoming release from warner. There are clips from it in this 1996 documentary, but the version that was on youtube was in better quality.

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Re: Show Boat (1936) coming to DVD!

Wed Feb 26, 2014 12:21 pm

Love the clips, as always. Whatever they're doing at Warner Archive, it will be a waste if it ain't on blu-ray. The Archive has released a couple of titles on blu-ray that hadn't been on DVD before -- Greystoke the Legend of Tarzan (1983) comes to mind. I used to live near a video rental store where I could rent the Criterion laser disc. It came in two editions, just the film and in a box set with supplements:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Showboat-1936 ... 20dc387491

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Show-Boat-36- ... 2c7bc26e28

And then there was this:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/The-Complete- ... 58ab72bc44

I'd buy them but my laser disc knashed its' own teeth long time ago.

Re: Show Boat (1936) coming to DVD!

Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:23 pm

It seems that Amazon don't have it yet, but you can get it here: http://shop.warnerarchive.com/product/c ... 0466749.do

http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Or ... w3blbCYaM8

James Whale's Original SHOW BOAT Film Now Available On DVD

February 25

4:02 PM

2014

by Pat Cerasaro

A newly restored edition of iconic movie musical SHOW BOAT arrives on DVD in its original 1936 iteration for the very first time this week according to a new listing at Warner Archives.

The official description of SHOW BOAT is as follows: "SHOW BOAT (1936) James Whale's extremely faithful adaptation of the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein musical sensation makes its DVD debut at last! Based on an Edna Ferber novel, Show Boat denotes the romantic misadventures of a central star-crossed pair of river boat performers (Irene Dunne and Allan Jones) and the lives of the river show boat folk on both sides of the racial divide. With Hammerstein enlisted as scripter as well as the stage show's orchestrator and conductor (Robert Russell Bennett and Victor Baravalle), not to mention a star-studded cast of vets of various stage incarnations (Paul Robeson, Helen Morgan, Charles Winninger, Sammy White, Francis X. Mahoney, Irene Dunne, Allan Jones), Show Boat is as close as you can come to a 1932 ticket to the Great White Way. Out of home video circulation for years, this boat comes to port at last in a sparkling new edition. Newly Remastered Shop Exclusive! Initial quantities of this release will be traditionally replicated (pressed) in anticipation of high consumer demand.

Order SHOW BOAT on DVD at the official site"

Re: Show Boat (1936) coming to DVD!

Wed Feb 26, 2014 5:22 pm

elvis4life wrote:It seems that Amazon don't have it yet, but you can get it here: http://shop.warnerarchive.com/product/c ... 0466749.do

http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Or ... w3blbCYaM8

James Whale's Original SHOW BOAT Film Now Available On DVD

February 25

4:02 PM

2014

by Pat Cerasaro

A newly restored edition of iconic movie musical SHOW BOAT arrives on DVD in its original 1936 iteration for the very first time this week according to a new listing at Warner Archives.

The official description of SHOW BOAT is as follows: "SHOW BOAT (1936) James Whale's extremely faithful adaptation of the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein musical sensation makes its DVD debut at last! Based on an Edna Ferber novel, Show Boat denotes the romantic misadventures of a central star-crossed pair of river boat performers (Irene Dunne and Allan Jones) and the lives of the river show boat folk on both sides of the racial divide. With Hammerstein enlisted as scripter as well as the stage show's orchestrator and conductor (Robert Russell Bennett and Victor Baravalle), not to mention a star-studded cast of vets of various stage incarnations (Paul Robeson, Helen Morgan, Charles Winninger, Sammy White, Francis X. Mahoney, Irene Dunne, Allan Jones), Show Boat is as close as you can come to a 1932 ticket to the Great White Way. Out of home video circulation for years, this boat comes to port at last in a sparkling new edition. Newly Remastered Shop Exclusive! Initial quantities of this release will be traditionally replicated (pressed) in anticipation of high consumer demand.

Order SHOW BOAT on DVD at the official site"


I have to wait for Amazon and WB shop won't ship outside the USA (and people wonder why torrents do so well!)