1951 Motion Picture

Rodgers & HammersteinShow Boat

Presented by MGM with a “visual splendor and richness of [the] musical score,” this new film adaptation of Show Boat hit theatres across the country on September 24, 1951. Starring Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner, Howard Keel and William Warfield, this fresh adaptation of Kern and Hammerstein’s stage musical leaned into the drama of its central characters and away from much of the comedy inherent in the original production. Perhaps the most iconic moment of this technicolor film is William Warfield, as Joe, singing “Ol’ Man River.” The film, a critical and commercial success, went on to be televised on NBC and CBS for years to come.


Released alongside the 1951 MGM Technicolor film, this soundtrack to Show Boat became available first in vinyl as a Long-Playing record with eight tracks, including “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine,” “Life Upon the Wicked Stage” and “Ol’ Man River.” The soundtrack features a colorful album cover with the film’s top-billed stars, Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner and Howard Keel. The new orchestrations featured in the film were scored by Alexander Courage and Conrad Salinger, conducted under the musical direction of Adolph Deutsch.