Hollywood Steps Out

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Hollywood Steps Out
Merrie Melodies series
Hollywood steps out (01).png
Title card from 1948 Blue Ribbon reissue
Directed by Tex Avery
Produced by Leon Schlesinger
Story by Melvin Millar
Voices by Kent Rogers
(Additional Male Characters-uncredited)
Mel Blanc
(Jerry Colonna-uncredited)
Sara Berner
(All Female Characters-uncredited)
Music by Carl W. Stalling
Studio Leon Schlesinger Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) May 24, 1941 (original)
October 2, 1948
(Blue Ribbon reissue)
Color process Technicolor
Running time 7:45
Language English

Hollywood Steps Out is a 1941 short Merrie Melodies cartoon by Warner Bros., directed by Tex Avery. The cartoon features caricatures by Ben Shenkman of Hollywood celebrities from the 1930s and early 1940s, including Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Wallace Beery, Bing Crosby, Greta Garbo, and Groucho Marx.

Plot[edit]

A bird's-eye view of Los Angeles is shown with searchlights moving to a conga beat. The action takes place in the famed Ciro's nightclub, where the Hollywood stars are having dinner at $50 ($831.90 today) a plate and "easy terms". The first stars seen are Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, and, at a table behind them, Adolphe Menjou and Norma Shearer, followed by Cary Grant, seated alone. Grant's first lines reference his films My Favorite Wife, The Awful Truth, and His Girl Friday (originally titled The Front Page). Greta Garbo comes along as a cigarette girl, and lights a match for Grant on her notoriously large feet. In the next scene, Edward G. Robinson asks Ann Sheridan, "How's the Oomph girl tonight?" Sheridan, then known as the "Oomph Girl," responds by uttering the word "Oomph" several times.

The camera then tracks past several other tables: Warner Bros. staffers Henry Binder and Leon Schlesinger appear as an in-joke, while the soundtrack quotes "Merrily We Roll Along" – the theme to the Merrie Melodies series. A seat is reserved for Bette Davis, as is a large sofa for the corpulent Kate Smith; finally the cast of Blondie has been invited, including a fire hydrant for Daisy the dog. Meanwhile, in the cloakroom, Johnny Weissmuller checks a coat with Paulette Goddard that reveals his Tarzan outfit, with the single addition of a tuxedo collar and black bow tie. Sally Rand (famous for her striptease acts and fan dance), leaves her trademark feather "fans" behind and leaves presumably naked.

In the next scene, James Cagney prepares Humphrey Bogart and George Raft – all known for their "tough guy" roles – for a risky task. They get ready, turn, and start childishly pitching pennies. Harpo Marx lights matches under Garbo's foot, but in keeping with her subdued acting style, she responds with only a casual "Ouch." Then Clark Gable (known for chasing women) turns his head around 180 degrees to observe a pretty girl whom he follows offscreen.

Emcee Bing Crosby introduces the evening's entertainment, interrupted frequently by an over-affectionate race horse with an apparently unconscious jockey (a reference to Crosby's fondness for horse racing). Crosby presents Leopold Stokowski, who wears a snood as he prepares for what promises to be a serious orchestral performance— however, the song is "Ahí, viene la conga" and he dances to the beat.

The conga inspires Dorothy Lamour to invite James Stewart to dance with her. Stewart, known for playing "shy guy" roles, stutters, stammers, and finally runs away scared, leaving behind a sign reading "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Gable dances by, following the girl he saw earlier. Tyrone Power dances with noted ice skater Sonja Henie. Frankenstein's monster dances stiffly and woodenly. The Three Stooges poke and smash each other in rhythm to the beat. Oliver Hardy's dance partner is revealed to be two women, initially hidden by his obese frame. Cesar Romero dances with Rita Hayworth; considered to be two of the era's best big-screen dancers, they dance clumsily and spastically.

Mickey Rooney, sitting with Judy Garland, is presented with an expensive bill. An episode of the Andy Hardy film series breaks out as Rooney asks his "father", Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone), for a favor. In the next scene they are seen washing the dishes to the conga beat.

William Powell, Spencer Tracy, Ronald Colman, Errol Flynn, Wallace Beery, and C. Aubrey Smith

Gable, still following the girl, gives an aside to the audience: "Don't go away folks, this oughta be good!" Crosby then introduces the "feature attraction of the evening:" Sally Rand (identified as "Sally Strand") performing the bubble dance to "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles". Throughout the dance she holds a large white bubble in front of her presumably nude body. Kay Kyser, in his "Ol' Perfessor" character, shouts out, "Students!" to which a group of men wolf-whistle in unison and exclaim "Baby!": They are William Powell, Spencer Tracy, Ronald Colman, Errol Flynn, Wallace Beery and C. Aubrey Smith. Peter Lorre cryptically states, "I haven't seen such a beautiful bubble since I was a child," possibly in reference to his breakthrough film role as a child murderer in M. Henry Fonda is enjoying the act until he is pulled away by Alice Aldrich of The Aldrich Family saying "Hen-reeeeee!" J. Edgar Hoover then says "Gee!" several times as a pun on his position as a G-man. Boris Karloff, Arthur Treacher, Buster Keaton, and Mischa Auer watch the action in their typical deadpan manner until Ned Sparks, another famous movie "grouch," asks them if they are having a good time; they respond in unison with a terse "Yes." Jerry Colonna is very excited, and utters his catchphrases "Guess who?", to which the camera reveals an invisible character next to him: "Yehudi!" ("Who's Yehudi?" was Colonna's famous catchphrase, referring to violinist Yehudi Menuhin).


"Strand" tosses her bubble up in the air and catches it on the way back down, titillating the audience. Finally, Harpo shoots the bubble with a slingshot; Sally reacts with shock as it reveals a barrel underneath. Gable, meanwhile, has finally caught the girl he was chasing, insisting she kiss him. "She" turns out to be Groucho Marx in drag, and says, "Well, fancy meeting you here!"

Cast[edit]

  • Kent Rogers - Mickey Rooney, James Cagney, James Stewart, Kay Kyser, J. Edgar Hoover, Henry Fonda, Cary Grant, Edward G. Robinson, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Lewis Stone, Ned Sparks, Peter Lorre, and Groucho Marx[1]
  • Mel Blanc - Jerry Colonna
  • Sara Berner - Greta Garbo, Ann Sheridan, Paulette Goddard, Dorothy Lamour, and Henry Fonda's Mother

Production notes[edit]

  • When announced for the bubble dance Rand is called "Strand" by Crosby, presumably to avoid infringement. Rand refused permission to copy her dance act.
  • In one showing of the short, there are actually variants as to how the cartoon runs. In some versions, Cary Grant would say "...I'd land it," but in other versions he would say "...I'd land right on the front page." In the latter version, this is also the version where it shows a more revealing, erotic bubble dance by Sally Strand. If one slows the part where she lifts her bubble up, one can see much more of her nudity than is shown in the former case. The bubble also immediately comes down after going up a certain distance rather than to the left first before coming down. In addition, her nudity is never completely shown, but rather is heavily implied. Throughout the entire dance, the viewer can only see her dance from the front side due to the camera view. Her sides and back side are never shown. The short is also in high-quality definition as well in this case.
  • Out of the 46 stars caricatured, Mickey Rooney was the last survivor until his death on April 6, 2014.
  • Kent Rogers voiced all of the male celebrities except for Jerry Colonna, who was voiced by Mel Blanc. Rogers was a gifted impressionist, and only 17 years old when the cartoon was made. In July 1944, he was killed in Pensacola, Florida, during a U.S. Navy training flight.
  • The original release had an extended ending where Clark Gable kisses Groucho Marx anyway (adding, "I'm a BAD boy!"); this was cut out of the reissue print, because Clark was worried it would hurt his career. The result of cutting the ending was an abrupt black-out fade.[2]
  • Caricatures of Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis were made, but ultimately not used in the film. Had they made the cut, Hepburn would've been the longest lived of all the stars, being 96 at the time of her death in 2003.
  • Gary Cooper and Shirley Temple were supposed to have a dance in a deleted scene.[3]

Availability[edit]

This short is present on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 2, disc 4.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]