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The Show of Shows (1929)

 -  Musical  -  29 December 1929 (USA)
6.0
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 181 users  
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It's 1929. The studio gave the cinema its voice gave offered the audiences a chance to see their favorite actors and actresses from the silent screen era to see and for the first time can ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Frank Fay ...
Master of Ceremonies
William Courtenay ...
The Minister - Guillotine Sequence
...
The Victim - Guillotine Sequence
Hobart Bosworth ...
Executioner - Guillotine Sequence
...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Harry Akst ...
Pianist - Accompanying Irene Bordoni
Armida ...
Performer in 'Meet My Sister' Number (as Mimi Vendrell)
Johnny Arthur ...
Hero - Performer in 'The Pirate'
...
Performer in 'The Pirate' Number
...
Performer in 'Bicycle Built for Two' Number
...
Meet My Sister Presenter
Noah Beery ...
(Performer in "The Pirate" Number / Soldier (segment "Rifle Execution")
...
Performer in 'Meet My Sister' Number
Monte Blue ...
Condemned Man (segment "Rifle Execution")
Irène Bordoni ...
Performer in 'Just for One Hour of Love' Number
Edit

Storyline

It's 1929. The studio gave the cinema its voice gave offered the audiences a chance to see their favorite actors and actresses from the silent screen era to see and for the first time can be heard in a gaudy, grandiose music comedy revue. But also appear actors and actresses from the first 'talkies', stars from Broadway and of course the German shepherd Rin-Tin-Tin. Frank Fay is the host of the more than 70 well-known stars who show various acts. Written by Robert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Musical

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 December 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Parada das Maravilhas  »

Box Office

Budget:

$850,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Vitaphone) (Western Electric Apparatus)

Color:

| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film contains John Barrymore's only screen appearance as Richard III, one of his greatest stage successes. However, the excerpt is not from the play "Richard III", but from William Shakespeare's "Henry VI: Part III", a "prequel" to "Richard III" in which he also appears. See more »

Connections

Featured in Busby Berkeley: Going Through the Roof (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Ping Pongo
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Joseph Burke
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Sung by Winnie Lightner
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Warner Bros. players and all their friends put on a show
29 October 2013 | by (Upstate New York) – See all my reviews

Two years after the success of THE JAZZ SINGER (1927), Warner Bros. released this all-talking, all-singing, all-star revue to capitalize on the popularity of sound pictures. THE SHOW OF SHOWS (1929) features a wide variety of acts from a roster of famous stars of stage and screen. There are lots of songs and lots of mass choreography, but also comedic bits and a dramatic scene.

The movie is quite a spectacle, though nowadays its value is mostly as a curiosity for hardcore film buffs. The songs generally aren't that great and the performances aren't always polished, though everybody seems to be having fun. Much of the cast is made up of largely forgotten stars of the late silent/early sound era that most modern viewers wouldn't recognize. But it's a real treat for film historians.

I'm a big fan of old movies and classic Hollywood, and many of the featured stars are obscure even to me. Most of the stars are identified at some point in the film, though countless others are mixed into scenes with little fanfare. Without identification I was able to spot Myrna Loy, Ben Turpin, Chester Morris, Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., John Barrymore, and Monte Blue. And I'm familiar, to varying degrees, with people like Frank Fay, Winnie Lightner, Louise Fazenda, Dolores Costello, Noah Beery, and Tully Marshall.

Frank Fay emcees the proceedings, tying the various acts together and introducing the stars. His verbal comedy shtick is a good fit for talkies and he does a pretty good job.

An early highlight is Winnie Lightner's upbeat comedy song "Ping Pongo". Louise Fazenda, Fay, Lloyd Hamilton, and Beatrice Lillie do a recitation sketch that's pretty funny, though it stretches a little too long. There's a number featuring notable screen villains as pirate versions of themselves (singing pirates, naturally). Another features several pairs of movie star sisters, including Loretta Young and Sally Blane, who look freakishly alike. Lightner also sings "Singin' in the Bathtub", a tune I know from old Looney Tunes cartoons. John Barrymore hams it up with a Shakespeare soliloquy as Richard III.

I was surprised and delighted halfway through to see an exotic number in two-strip Technicolor. Apparently most of the film was shot in color, but the surviving print is in black & white with the exception of this segment.

It's great seeing so many Hollywood personalities doing fun little acts and musical numbers. Everybody seems to be having a good time, putting on a big show. Some names and faces are more recognizable than others, but the film is a fascinating glimpse at the stable of Warner Bros. talent at this transitional point in cinema history.

A musical spectacular from the infancy of the sound era, THE SHOW OF SHOWS is literally presented as a stage production, with fairly static cameras and sometimes clunky framing. Sometimes the closed stage curtain fills the top three-quarters of the frame while a chorus line dances along the bottom edge. In one song voices drop out of range of the microphone as the singers move across the stage. Some of the extended crowd choreography gets tiresome, but the comedy is good for a few laughs. And it's always fun trying to identify the stars in the ensemble scenes.

6/10 for entertainment value, but 7/10 as a historical curiosity.


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