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Hollywood Hotel (1937)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 15 January 1938 (USA)
Ronny Bowers, a saxophonist in Benny Goodman's band has won a talent contest an got a ten week contract with a film studio. On his first evening he is supposed to go with the studio's star ... See full summary »



(screen play), (screen play) | 3 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mona Marshall
Chester Marshall
Johnnie Davis ...
Alexander Duprey
Mabel Todd ...
Dot Marshall
Jerry Cooper ...
Jerry Cooper
Ken Niles ...
Ken Niles
Duane Thompson ...
Duane Thompson
Bernie Walton


Ronny Bowers, a saxophonist in Benny Goodman's band has won a talent contest an got a ten week contract with a film studio. On his first evening he is supposed to go with the studio's star Mona Marshall to a movie premiere. But this lady doesn't want to go, so the bosses decide to use for Mona a double, Virginia. When Mona finds out next morning that happened, she insisted to fire her double and Ronny. Ronny finds work as singing waiter in a drive in, and is spotted by a director of the same studio, who wants him to lend his voice for an leading actor in a musical. After the first screening the actor is invited by Louella Parsons to sing in her program "Hollywood Hotel". He accepts, but he doesn't know that Ronny Bowers does not want to lend him his voice again. So everybody starts to play his little game to solve his own problems. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 January 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Himaires tou Hollywood  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


During filing Louella Parsons (playing herself) kept calling Lola Lane by her own name instead of her character's name, Mona, and the dress fitting scene took an entire day to shoot. See more »


In the "Hooray for Hollywood" portion of the finale, Johnnie Davis is shown playing the trumpet on the back row of Benny Goodman's band while at the same time he's in the audience singing. See more »


Butch: I want a pair of very, very high-heeled jeweled sandals!
Miss Jones aka Jonesy: What are you gonna wear 'em with?
See more »


Referenced in The Office: Promos (2013) See more »


Let That Be a Lesson to You
(1937) (uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting (as Dick Whiting)
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Sung by Johnnie Davis, Dick Powell, Rosemary Lane, Mabel Todd, Ted Healy, Harrison Greene, Constantine Romanoff and chorus
Performed by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra
See more »

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User Reviews

This Grand Plan Comes Off, But it Ain't Pretty
9 December 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A sprawling, huge, hot mess of a musical from Busby Berkeley and the last of his cycle of features for Warners; not to mention the only one that doesn't contain any dedicated dance routines. Dick Powell is the center of attention, playing a small town saxophonist with the Benny Goodman Orchestra (?) who heads off to Hollywood to work a short stint at a movie studio he has won in a contest, only to take the fall for a stunt involving a stand in for a major star who discovers the ruse and has them both fired. He does fall for the girl, and he doesn't lose her this time, but simply makes himself scarce at points. Along the way we hear some fine, and not so fine, Johnny Mercer and Richard Whiting penned production numbers, and Benny Goodman does make it back into the picture somehow, though that is not explained, and he and his fabulous 1937 orchestra and quartet provide the film with its finest moments. And just in time, as by February of 1938 the orchestra as it is here was basically disbanded.

One wants to draw comparisons with "A Star is Born," released by the Selznick studio in April of 1937, and this may have been intended as an upbeat answer to the very downbeat Selznick picture. It opens with a rousing, energy filled sequence with Powell, Goodman, Frances Langford and Johnny "Scat" Davis introducing the song "Hooray for Hollywood" which has since become a theme song for Tinseltown of sorts, even if the movie it came from isn't particularly well remembered. There is a nice and useful montage of the facades of some of the most famous Hollywood restaurants, all demolished now. Then this leads into a very, very long second chapter, setting up the premise, and this part of the film seems to take forever; it is quite some time before we make it to another song. While there are no dance routines, there are large scale co-ordinations of action, particularly in a complex sequence in Callahan's Drive In involving carhops, Powell, Ted Healy, Edgar Kennedy, a studio executive, customers and crashing dishes. It's emblematic of the whole film; Berkeley has all of these balls up in the air -- the Benny Goodman and (over the top) Raymond Paige Orchestra, Powell, duplicitous studio executives, Lola Lane as a snooty, self-absorbed star and real life sister Rosemary Lane playing her double, the antics of Hugh Herbert, a parody of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (or "Gone with the Wind," or both) as part of a film within a film, a radio show with Louella Parsons (who is not at all comfortable on screen), celebrity radio hosts, songs etc. But these elements don't really shake hands; things happen because they happen. We see Frances Langford, dewy-eyed, singing Dick Powell away to the train station at the start and later she returns to sing on the radio program that Dick Powell makes his way onto, but we don't know why or how she got there. "Hollywood Hotel" throws all manner of things at us to impress us, but ultimately it's Benny Goodman and "Hooray for Hollywood" that stays with you; as a film, and story, nothing seems to stick together very well here.

There is some dated, and unfortunate, racial humor of the kind that doesn't travel well with post-modern audiences, but mercifully such scenes are brief. And, in a sense, being able to see Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson as the stars and expert musicians they are in Goodman's quartet makes up for that, though this sequence was placed as it is deliberately so that it could be lifted out of the film when it played the South. It seems that with any 1930s film that Warner Bros. sensed was in trouble they'd find a way to drop Hugh Herbert into the mix; a mixed blessing. Here, he is abysmal. I do not object as much to Mabel Todd's character as some of the other commentators here, but I agree that she is not the film's strongest asset. Powell soldiers on through his typically wide-eyed boy character from earlier Berkeley musicals, but here you get the sense he is running out of patience with the role and is playing him as a stock. Both Healy and Alan Mowbray are funny; though this was not Healy's last picture, it was the last to open in his lifetime -- he died the day after its Hollywood premiere. There is an amusing subtext about the vagaries of dubbing pictures, and several nice shots of Hollywood landmarks of the past. One may argue that there is not enough of Glenda Farrell, and at least one musical number was cut from the picture, but more is not necessarily what one wants from this film; even at a minute short of two hours, it feels really long. "Hollywood Hotel" is worth seeing for Goodman, and some of the songs; otherwise, this one must have given Busby Berkeley no end of headaches. With all that's going in "42ND Street," every action and every character links together. It just doesn't happen in "Hollywood Hotel;" the rooms are over-booked.

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