Show Boat. 1936. USA. Directed by James Whale. 113 min.
Universal first adapted the groundbreaking Edna Ferber/Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein musical as a hastily assembled part-talkie in 1929; the 1936 version would be both Junior Laemmle’s most ambitious production and the beginning of his downfall, as cost overruns forced the studio into taking on increased debt. The studio’s top director, James Whale, brought in as many members of the original Broadway cast as possible, including Helen Morgan, Charles Winninger, and Sammy White; Irene Dunne had played Magnolia in a traveling company and Paul Robeson, who had played Joe in the London company, returned for his signature piece, “Ol' Man River.”