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Show Boat (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

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Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s immortal musical adaptation of Edna Ferber’s sprawling novel receives its most faithful and enduring cinematic adaptation under the elegant direction of James Whale. A rich portrait of changing American entertainment traditions and race relations, Show Boat spans four decades and three generations as it follows the fortunes of the stage-struck Magnolia (Irene Dunne), an aspiring actor whose journey takes her from her family’s humble floating playhouse in the 1880s South to the height of fame in the 1930s North. The cast of show-business legends includes Helen Morgan, Hattie McDaniel, Charles Winninger, and the great Paul Robeson, whose iconic, soul-shaking rendition of “Ol’ Man River” is one of the crowning glories of the American stage and screen. SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY FEATURES • New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack • Audio commentary from 1989 featuring American-musical historian Miles Kreuger • New interview with James Whale biographer James Curtis • Recognizing Race in “Show Boat,” a new interview program featuring professor and author Shana L. Redmond • Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist (1979), an Academy Award–winning short documentary by Saul J. Turell, newly restored • Two performances from the sound prologue of the 1929 film version of Show Boat, plus twenty minutes of silent excerpts from the film, with audio commentary by Kreuger • Two radio adaptations of Show Boat, featuring stage and screen cast members Allan Jones, Helen Morgan, and Charles Winninger; actor Orson Welles; and novelist Edna Ferber • PLUS: An essay by critic Gary Giddins

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