The Hollywood Revue of 1929

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The Hollywood Revue of 1929
The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Charles Reisner
Produced by Irving Thalberg
Harry Rapf
Written by Al Boasberg
Robert E. Hopkins
Joseph Farnham
Starring Conrad Nagel
Jack Benny
Joan Crawford
Marion Davies
Anita Page
Marie Dressler
William Haines
Buster Keaton
Gus Edwards
Music by Gus Edwards
Arthur Freed
("Singin' in the Rain")
Nacio Herb Brown
("Singin' in the Rain")
Cinematography John Arnold
Max Fabian
Irving G. Ries
John M. Nickolaus
Edited by William S. Gray
Cameron K. Wood
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)
  • November 23, 1929 (1929-11-23) (United States)
Running time 116 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $426,000[1]

The Hollywood Revue of 1929 is a 1929 American musical-comedy film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was the studio's second feature-length musical, and one of the earliest ventures into the sound format. Produced by Harry Rapf and Irving Thalberg and directed by Charles Reisner, the film brought together some of MGM's most popular performers in a lavish two-hour revue shot partially in Technicolor.

The two masters of ceremonies are Conrad Nagel and Jack Benny. A month after this movie, Warner Brothers released The Show of Shows, a musical revue which was photographed almost entirely in Technicolor and a full talking picture.

Production[edit]

Unlike M-G-M's imposing feature films, which always boasted strong story values, The Hollywood Revue of 1929 was a plotless parade of variety acts. Conrad Nagel, interviewed for the book The Real Tinsel, recalled, "Everybody thought Harry Rapf was crazy for making it."[2] Billed as an "All-Star Musical Extravaganza," the film includes performances by once and future stars, including Joan Crawford singing and dancing on stage. (She later remarked, "Revue was one of those let's-throw-everyone-on-the-lot-into-a musical things, but I did a good song-and-dance number.").[3] Other segments feature Lionel Barrymore, Marion Davies, Gus Edwards, John Gilbert, Buster Keaton, Marie Dressler, Anita Page, Norma Shearer, and the comedy team of Karl Dane and George K. Arthur.

Highlights of the film are a comedy routine starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as inept magicians, and a variety of musical performances. One of these is the debut of "Singin' in the Rain," performed initially by Cliff Edwards as "Ukelele Ike,'" and later performed at the end of the film by the entire cast. This latter all-star color sequence was a last-minute addition to the film, shot late at night on June 10, 1929, just ten days before the premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The only major M-G-M stars missing from the revue are Greta Garbo, Ramón Novarro, and Lon Chaney, Sr., although Chaney is referred to by name in one of the songs performed and Garbo is spoken of during one of the introductory dialogues. Only one sequence was cut from the film: three songs by The Brox Sisters, which was recycled into a short subject, Gems of MGM. Another sequence, a parody of the Albertina Rasch ballet's "pearl dance" by Marie Dressler, was planned but not shot (as the film's production records reveal). Instead, the number was replaced by one featuring Buster Keaton, though Dressler did pose for stills wearing a Lady Godiva wig.

The film is sometimes cited, as on the DVD release of the 1952 Singin' in the Rain, as the movie that led to the downfall of Gilbert's career. Gilbert, a popular silent film actor best known for his work opposite Garbo, possessed a pleasant tenor speaking voice which didn't always match his heroic, dashing screen image. In Hollywood Revue he plays the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet with Norma Shearer, first straight, then for laughs with contemporary slang.

Musical numbers[edit]

The circulating print of The Hollywood Revue of 1929 runs as follows:

Act I[edit]

Intermission[edit]

  • "Nobody But You", "Your Mother and Mine" and "I've Got a Feeling for You" - Orchestra

Act II[edit]

  • "The Pearl Ballet" sung by James Burrows, danced by Beth Laemmle and the Albertina Rasch ballet
  • "The Dance of the Sea", an "underwater" dance performed by Buster Keaton
  • "Lon Chaney's Gonna Get You If You Don't Watch Out" sung by Gus Edwards
  • "The Adagio Dance" with the Natova Company
  • "Romeo and Juliet" (in Technicolor) with John Gilbert and Norma Shearer, with Lionel Barrymore as director
  • "Singin' in the Rain" introduced by Cliff Edwards, with The Brox Sisters
  • "Charlie, Gus, and Ike" with Charles King, Gus Edwards, and Cliff Edwards
  • "Marie, Polly, and Bess" with Marie Dressler, Polly Moran, and Bessie Love
  • "Orange Blossom Time" (in two-strip Technicolor), sung by Charles King to Myrtle McLaughlin, danced by the Albertina Rasch Ballet Company
  • "Singin' in the Rain" (finale) (in two-strip Technicolor), sung by entire cast

Reception[edit]

The film, which was shot in 25 days with a budget of $426,000, was popular with audiences especially in its initial big-city engagements. The film went on to make a profit of $1.1 million and was considered for the Academy Award for Best Picture (there were no official nominations at that point in Motion Picture Association of America history).[1] Producer Rapf tried to follow it up with another revue, The Hollywood Revue of 1930, which was changed during production to The March of Time, and finally abandoned. Musical numbers already shot for the film were edited into M-G-M short subjects of the early 1930s.

Preservation[edit]

The film survives intact with its original Technicolor sequences. It was released on laserdisc in the 1990s, and on DVD in 2009 through the Warner Archive Collection.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bradley, Edwin M. (2004). The First Hollywood Musicals: A Critical Filmography Of 171 Features, 1927 Through 1932. McFarland. p. 262. ISBN 0-786-42029-4. 
  2. ^ Silverstein, Harry; Rosenberg, Bernard (1970). The Real Tinsel. Macmillan. p. 189. 
  3. ^ Newquist, Roy; Crawford, Joan (1980). Conversations with Joan Crawford. Citadel Press. p. 70. ISBN 0-806-50720-9. 

External links[edit]