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Archive for November 1st, 2011

by Sam Juliano

Note: The following is an interview conducted over the summer at the Happy Dale Nursing Home in Des Moines, Iowa with 86 year-old Agnes Ferber, niece of celebrated writer Edna Ferber. Ms. Ferber is professor emeritus at Drake University, specializing in theatre and cinema studies.  Ms. Ferber, who retired in 1987, has spoken about her aunt’s work at a number of universities across the country, and has more than an affectionate regard for James Whale’s 1936 film version of ‘Show Boat,’ which is based on her most celebrated work.   The loquacious and fecund scholar magnanimously agreed to share her opinions on the film’s music, historical context and artistry for the musical countdown.

SJ:  Hello Ms. Ferber.  I want to thank you for agreeing to impart your vast wealth of information, experience and insight into your aunt’s most famous work and the famed stage and film versions that widened it’s cognizance worldwide.

AF: Young man -or I can call you that compared to where I have progressed to- the honor is mine.  I understand you are doing some kind of a musical countdown, and the 1936 version of Show Boat is expected to do quite well.

SJ: Thanks so much my friend.  Yes I do expect the film to do quite well with the seven-member panel.  I have placed it quite high on my own ballot, and consider the Kern-Hammerstein score one of the greatest in Broadway history.  I always thought James Whale was the only director to get it right. (more…)

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