It is the 1880s, and Captain Andy's riverboat, the Cotton Blossom, travels the Mississippi putting on shows. When headliner Julie (Ava Gardner) and her husband are forced to leave under a cloud, the Captain's young daughter (Kathryn Grayson) and a handsome gambler (Howard Keel) take over the spotlight. When they, too, leave the show, they live on his winnings, but then his luck runs out.
This wonderful Jerome Kern show has a dream cast and unforgettable songs. The plot is more serious than most musicals, consisting of two tragedies; the first deals with racial discrimination and the second with love gone wrong. Grayson has a lovely operatic voice and is exquisite as the innocent girl who becomes sadder and wiser. Keel is dashing as her husband and Ava Gardner steals the show with her heartbreaking performance as the unfortunate Julie.
The songs include "Make-Believe, "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," and the powerful "Ol' Man River." The movie is filmed in glorious Technicolor with lively dance numbers. Even though it's a tear-jerker, it's a classic and one of MGM's best musicals.
Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel shine in "Show Boat."