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Show Boat, part 4 December 23, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Jerome Kern, Movies, Musicals, Oscar Hammerstein II, Show Boat, Theater.
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Helen MorganHelen Morgan (1902-1941), the original Julie LaVerne, is credited as the original “torch singer,” who perfected the style of leaning on the piano while she sang bluesy songs. In fact, she had to lean on the piano to stay vertical, as she was she was an alcoholic who was frequently drunk on stage. She died after collapsing on stage during a performance of George White’s Scandals. Ann Blyth portrayed her in a biographical movie in 1957.

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Show Boat, part 3 December 22, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Jerome Kern, Movies, Musicals, Oscar Hammerstein II, Show Boat, Theater.
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Because of the film’s length and cost, Universal subjected Show Boat to some fairly drastic cuts before its release. The most glaring is the song “Why Do I Love You?”, which was in the scene with Nola, Gay and Kim in the automobile (in the last video of today’s section). Ellie’s big number, “Life Upon the Wicked Stage”, is also missing although it plays over the scene of the audience leaving after Gay’s first performance. Some posters for the first release still refer to these songs. The studio added “I Still Suits Me” to beef up the role of Joe for Paul Robeson.

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Show Boat, part 2 December 21, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Jerome Kern, Movies, Musicals, Oscar Hammerstein II, Show Boat, Theater.
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Show Boat has an unjustified association with financial ruin, and not just for Julie and Steve. The original production was blamed for Florenz Ziegfeld’s bankruptcy, although in fact it was a smash success. And the financial and critical success of this version wasn’t enough to prevent the founder of Universal Pictures, Carl Laemmle, from being forced out as studio head later that year.

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