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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 183 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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Airs Tue. Sep. 09, 1:45 AM on TCM

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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

At it's New York City premiere at the Winter Garden Theatre, some musical numbers were projected on a larger, wider screen, by a system called Magnascope, which had been in occasional use since 1924. See more »

Connections

Featured in Smash His Camera (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

You Were Meant for Me
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics by Arthur Freed
Sung by Bull Montana and Winnie Lightner
See more »

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User Reviews

Warner Brothers Presents
10 August 2001 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

THE SHOW OF SHOWS (Warner Brothers, 1929), directed by John G. Adolfi, originally presented in early two-strip Technicolor, became Warner Brothers' answer to MGM's earlier all-star musical, "The Hollywood Revue of 1929," which brings almost all of its contract players, former stars of the silent screen, and recent recruits from Broadway, to show off their musical talents, or their lack of. The master of ceremonies in this vaudeville-type production is Frank Fay, who spends the first half of this revue trying to have the spotlight all to himself and to sing a song or two, even a few times trying to sing "Dear Little Pup" to his dogie, but is always interrupted by comedy acts or singers who feel they could do better, and they usually can. For a musical revue that goes on for almost two hours, one can only say that this is a mixed bag of production numbers that either entertains or doesn't. What can be said about "The Show of Shows" when seeing it today is that it plays to 1929 audiences, in other words, there are many performers in this revue who appear without any introduction, such as the legendary John Barrymore (who still needs no introduction in my book), Monte Blue leading a West Point military march, or the then popular French prizefighter, Georges Carpentier, singing "If I Could Learn to Love" in front of a curtain backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, accompanied by Patsy Ruth Miller and Alice White, among others, assuming that viewers of 1929 watching this review automatically know who these people are, but for the first-time viewer, this individual will start asking himself, "Who is that?" Nostalgic buffs and star searchers can otherwise sit back and enjoy spotting some of their favorite movie stars then just starting out in the business, including the better-known faces of Myrna Loy, Loretta Young, Harriette Lake (who became Ann Sothern) and/or Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

In brief, THE SHOW OF SHOWS musical program features: PROLOGUE UNIQUE: Hobart Bosworth as an executioner and HB Warner as the victim in a brief skit set during the French Revolution; THE MILITARY PARADE: lead by Monte Blue and marching and drum playing West Point cadets; FLORADORA GIRLS: Myrna Loy, Marian Nixon, Ben Turpin, Lupino Lane, and many others in 1890s costumes; THE PIRATE NUMBER: featuring Ted Lewis with motion picture pirates including Noah Beery, Tully Marshall, etc.; EIFFEL TOWER: Georges Carpentier; RECITATIONS: Beatrice Lillie, Louise Fazenda, Lloyd Hamilton and Frank Fay, later going into their song, "Your Mother and Mine"; EIGHT SISTER ACT: Hosted by Richard Barthelmess, followed by sisters including Dolores and Helene Costello singing "Meet My Sister," along with Loretta Young and Sally Blane, Sally O'Neil and Molly O'Day, Alice and Marceline Day; Marion Byron and Harriett Lake; and others. Following this number comes a title card that reads INTERMISSION: TEN MINUTES (which is usually eliminated from most TV prints); SINGING IN THE BATHTUB: Winnie Lightner, which concludes with Lightner and Bull Montana singing "You Were Meant for Me"; IRENE BORDONI HERSELF: Bordoni singing "Just an Hour of Love"; Chinese FANTASY: Introduced by Rin-Tin Tin; with Nick Lucas singing "Li-Po-Li" and Myrna Loy dancing (this number now can be seen in its restored two-strip Technicolor); FAY AND SILVERS: Amusing skit with Sid Silvers stepping in and auditioning for a solo spot, showing Frank Fay his own imitation of Al Jolson by singing "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody"; BICYCLE BUILT FOR TWO: Chester Conklin, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Chester Morris; Gertrude Olmstead, Sally Eilers, among others; BLACK AND WHITE: Introduced by Sid Silvers, danced by chorus girls dressed up in black and white dresses; YOUR LOVE IS ALL THAT I CRAVE: Sung by Frank Fay (he finally got to do his solo); KING RICHARD III: Introduced and recited by John Barrymore; Mexican MOONSHINE: Comedy sketch with Monte Blue as a condemned man, and Frank Fay as his executioner, accompanied by Lloyd Hamilton, Albert Gran and others as soldiers; LADY LUCK FINALE: Sung by Alexander Gray with Betty Compson briefly seen as Lady Luck; and STARS: with the entire cast appearing with their heads poked through holes in canvas singing "Lady Luck", especially John Barrymore making facial gestures while he pretends to be singing along with the others.

THE SHOW OF SHOWS is fortunate to have survived almost intact after all these years, considering how many movies of 1929 are no longer available for viewing. The most memorable performer besides John Barrymore (whom I wished could have been the master of ceremonies instead of Fay), is Winnie Lightner, whose energetic and unique comedic style, in the persona of of future vibrant singers as Martha Raye or Betty Hutton combined, who not only sings in the bathtub, but lightens up the rough spots by singing "Ping Pongo," And then there's Nick Lucas singing "Lady Luck" and "That's the Only Song I Know" with his guitar.

A predecessor to the once popular fad of TV variety shows of the 1950s and '60s, THE SHOW OF SHOWS which is one from the time capsule, is worthy entertainment that should be viewed at least once, and to get the feel of the bygone days of vaudeville, here captured on film Hollywood style. WPHL, Channel 17, in Philadelphia, was one of the very few known commercial television stations to frequently play THE SHOW OF SHOWS in the early 1970s (final air date: December 31, 1974). In later years when brought over on cable, it was shown on Turner Network Television (TNT) from 1988 to 1993, and later on Turner Classic Movies (frequently prior to 1997). (***)


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