Robert Sterling

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Show Boat Review


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Widely regarded as a classic, the 1951 Technicolor bonanza that is Show Boat (based on the Broadway musical) has not aged well. The film starts as two riverboat performers (including the lovely show-stealing Ava Gardner) are forced to quit their jobs when it's discovered they have black ancestry somewhere down the line. Such "mixed blood" doesn't sit well with the locals, so replacements are hired, including the daughter of the "cap'n." Later they go broke. That's the gist: The film doesn't offer much more story, as its musical numbers (including the famous "Old Man River") take center stage. Too bad the racial politics just don't play the same as they did when Edna Ferber wrote the novel in 1926.

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Robert Sterling

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