When originally released,this film was shown in both a part-talking and singing version,and in a totally silent one for theatres not yet equipped for sound. The silent version ran some thirty minutes shorter than the sound version (if one counts the elimination of the two-reel sound prologue).
Universal had originally intended to release the part-talkie version with authentic black spirituals and work songs only. When they realized that this could potentially backfire on them, they obtained the rights to the Kern-Hammerstein musical, incorporated some of the score into the film, reshot two scenes so that Laura La Plante could "sing" (with a dubbed singing voice) two hits from the score of the Broadway show, and, finally, in desperation, filmed a two-reel prologue in which three stars from the stage version of "Show Boat" sang five numbers from the show, two of them being the ones that Ms. La Plante performed in the film. The strategy did not work, and the 1929 film version of "Show Boat" was not successful.
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