Show Boat (1936) 03/21/20

The Criterion Collection

One of the best and most melodic of filmic transpositions from Broadway, James Whale’s beautifully directed movie showcases all-time great performances by Irene Dunne, Paul Robeson, Helen Morgan, Hattie McDaniel, and Charles Winninger. If you didn’t grow up with an awareness of this 1936 show, it’s because it was tossed in a vault and kept from view for more than forty years. Universal’s Laemmle dynasty did everything right on this one, backing Whale right down the line. Even though it was a big success, they lost the studio over cost overruns (well, for several reasons). Criterion’s new disc is a wonderful surprise that does the movie justice, with more and better extras than Warners would have sourced. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.