Restored MGM musical 'Showboat' makes welcome stop at the Senator

On movies

August 23, 1991|By Lou Cedrone

The acting is a trifle dated and at times the field workers are just a little too happy, but if you want to see a film that best represents the kind of musical MGM was turning out a few years before the movie musical became passe, try ''Show Boat,'' now playing at the Senator Theatre.

This particular ''Show Boat,'' the third screen version of the Edna Ferber classic, was made in 1951 when MGM may have been king of the musicals. Ava Gardner, Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Agnes Morehead, Marge and Gower Champion and Joe E. Brown were the principals. William Warfield was chosen to sing ''Ol' Man River,'' for which the musical may be best known.

Every song, however, is a classic. You can't help but sing along.

It was reported that the studio considered Lena Horne for the role of Julie, the singer who was half black, half white. In time, they went with Gardner, whose beauty, at the time, was unarguable. Her voice, however, was. She didn't do her singing. Someone did it for her, though it was her voice that was heard on the recording.

Gardner is gone. So are Gower Champion, Morehead and Brown. Champion would go on to become a successful Broadway director (''Hello, Dolly!,'' ''Bye Bye Birdie,'' ''42nd Street''), and Keel would continue along, most recently, as one of the stars of ''Dallas.''

Grayson is the girl who falls in love with Gaylord Ravenal (Keel), the riverboat gambler who loves and leaves her.

George Sydney directed this ''Show Boat,'' which was restored by the Turner Entertainment Company, for showing at the Senator. Turner, impressed with the exhibition of classic favorites at the theater, asked that Tom Kiefaber, owner of the theater, show the ''newly struck'' print, and it does look new. It also sounds new. So if you're in the mood for an oldie, one of the more memorable oldies, this is it.

The score includes ''Along Came Bill,'' ''After the Ball,'' ''We Could Make Believe,'' ''Your Are Love'' and ''Fish Gotta Swim.'' Winners, all.

I= ''Show Boat'' will remain at the Senator through Sept. 5.

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