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On with the Show! (1929)

Passed | | Musical, Romance | 13 July 1929 (USA)
A musical advertised as the first 100% natural color, all-singing production. The plot concerns a wide-eyed former hatcheck girl who takes the place of a rebellious star.



(based on the play "Shoestring" by), (scenario)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Beaton
Kitty (as Sally O'Neill)
Harry Gribbon ...
Fairbanks Twins ...
Purnell Pratt ...
Sam Bloom (as Purnell B. Pratt)
Thomas Jefferson ...


A musical advertised as the first 100% natural color, all-singing production. The plot concerns a wide-eyed former hatcheck girl who takes the place of a rebellious star.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Musical | Romance







Release Date:

13 July 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Comediantes  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Vitaphone) (Western Electric Apparatus)


(2-strip Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Film debut of Ethel Waters. See more »


Featured in Jazz (2001) See more »


Don't It Mean a Thing to You?
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Akst
Lyrics by Grant Clarke
Sung by Josephine Huston and Arthur Lake
Danced by Marion Fairbanks and Madeline Fairbanks
See more »

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User Reviews

Betty Compson, Joe E. Brown and Ethel Waters
27 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A true backstage musical (like MURDER AT THE VANITIES) that weaves the onstage and backstage action into one plot. ON WITH THE SHOW is a tad creaky but bad sound and hammy performances aside it was a total pleasure.

A fascinating look at what 20s musicals were really like: the stage crammed with performers, long numbers, reprises of the main tunes, etc. The show within a show, THE PHANTOM SWEETHEART is a loony plantation musical that looks like a cheap rip-off of SHOW BOAT but that's of little consequence since the "real story" occurs backstage. It's a plot we've seen before and seemingly borrows from every contemporary musical yo ever saw.

But several of the performers are total standouts. Betty Compson plays the temperamental star but has little to do until the last section of the film. She has a great face, a good voice, and for some reason is a fave of mine. She's a good old "broad" with a heart of gold and is excellent in her final scenes. Joe E. Brown is also very good, although I think his eccentric dance was repeated in BRIGHT LIGHTS a few years later. Both have star quality.

Louise Fazenda has an odd role (she laughs) but is always likable. Ethel Waters is terrific singing "Am I Blue?" and "Birmingham Bertha" but is not involved in the backstage plot.

The rest of the cast doesn't come off so well. Arthur Lake is the juvenile lead, William Bakewell and Sally O'Neill are the "innocents," Sam Hardy is the producer, Wheeler Oakman is the nefarious Mr. Wallace, Lee Moran (related to Ray Bolger?) is the stage manager, and the Fairbanks Twins dance and cause trouble.

Compson has a great entrance line when heading onstage someone says something like "there's Nita French!" She turns and says, "In the flesh, baby, in the flesh!" while clutching her shear robe around her......

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