Hollywood Steps Out (1941) Poster

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Stepping out with Hollywood and Tex Avery
TheLittleSongbird4 November 2017
Love animation, it was a big part of my life as a child, particularly Disney, Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry, and still love it whether it's film, television or cartoons.

Also have much admiration for Tex Avery, an animation genius whose best cartoons are animated masterpieces and some of the best he ever did. 'Hollywood Steps Out' is an atypical Avery cartoon somewhat, and while it is not one of his very best it's greatly entertaining. A few of the caricatures are a little too brief, but what makes 'Hollywood Steps Out' better than a lot of caricature/celebrity lampooning cartoons is that to me the celebrities were all easy to spot and recognise and they were never less than very amusing. Nothing went over my head and the cartoon made me nostalgic for the classic Hollywood age.

It is no surprise either that the animation is superb, being rich in colour and detail. The character designs are fluid and well drawn, if not the creative ones of his very best cartoons. Carl Stalling's music is lush and characterful, with clever orchestration and a mastery of not just adding to the action but enhancing it as well (Stalling was a near-unequalled master at this, though Scott Bradley gave him a run for his money). The songs featured are catchy and toe-tapping.

'Hollywood Steps Out' is never less than very amusing and is hugely entertaining, if not always hilarious. The ending is particularly funny. The caricatures of famous celebrities of the classic Hollywood age induce a lot of nostalgia and are very cleverly done.

The voice work is superb, most in multiple roles with Sara Berner and particularly Dave Barry having the lion's share.

Overall, great caricature cartoon. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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The Ultimate Caricature Cartoon
Vimacone28 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Tex Avery didn't really tackle the caricature cartoon genre very often, but this still remains one of the best cartoons he did.

Following the pattern set with Freleng's "THE COO COO NUT GROVE (1936), this short is a showcase of several caricatures of well known celebrities in a popular Hollywood nightclub. Ciro's, the featured nightclub, had opened the previous year in 1940 and remained a popular spot in Hollywood for many years.

Although not a conventional Avery film, it does feature some of Tex's trademarks such as a running gag and foreshadow's his greatest cartoon at MGM. The staging of Sally Rand's bubble dance and the reactions of the stars anticipates RED HOT RIDING HOOD (1943).

Clark Gable is featured as a running gag pursuing a mysterious lady in red. When he does catch up to her at the end and is about to kiss her, she is revealed to be Groucho Marx in a drag, to Gable's amusement.

Rumor has it, that there was a longer ending to this gag in which Gable kissed Groucho anyways; To which Gable allegedly objected to over homosexual implications and WB cut it from reissue prints. Recently, someone posted on YouTube a short fragment from this short, which is absent from prints we've seen over the years, which depicts Gable effeminately saying "I'm a bad boy". This snippet at least proves that there's footage missing from reissue prints and may corroborate the element of the story of Gable's objection to the gag.

While most popular celebrities from the early 40's will not be familiar to modern audiences, this short has been ranked as one of the greatest WB cartoons of all time, and for good reason.
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For some, it may seem like shooting fish in "Sally Strand's" barrel . . .
Edgar Allan Pooh13 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
. . . but for others this 1941 Entrance Exam may produce a flunking grade (especially if they're a normal person under the age of 30). As fans of current live-action feature film FIFTEEN REAL MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN well know, our Holy Bible doesn't have room to cover EVERY helpful spiritual pointer (such as the location of the Healing Hollow Cottonwoods of Texas). Many of the Faithful believe there may be sort of a Cultural Literacy Triage Station adjacent to the Pearly Gates, particularly if the Population Explosion spreads skyward (since They'd never allow the lines in Heaven to get longer than those at Disneyland!). In such a case, What you know could conceivably trump Who you know. H0LLYW00D STEPS OUT seems designed as a beta version of such a trial. Say an American battleship explodes, sending more than a thousand souls instantly Upward (as happened in Real Life a few months after H0LLYW00D STEPS OUT's release). Possibly there was room for all of the recently deceased way back when. If not, perhaps those who could differentiate Curly, Larry and Moe for Peter, Paul, and Mary would gain preferential entrance. There may not be anyone left alive who can pass this 1941 Heavenly Entrance Exam without lots of cramming with Lenny Maltin or Bob Osborne. Perhaps Warner Bros. could put out an up-to-date cribbing cartoon?
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Real Hollywood!
Raflet6013 April 2016
As a huge fan of old Hollywood I always loved this cartoon. I find it amusing how younger folks have a difficult time understanding it due to the fact they probably don't watch enough old movies to know who these stars are. In the Wikipedia article on this cartoon, they mention the actor sitting with Claudette Colbert early on as Don Ameche. Upon repeated viewing I'm inclined to think it's the great George Brent. It looks too much like him and he was a much bigger star than Ameche ever became. Although brilliant I will agree it is dated in that all the references pertain to movies of that era. As a 55 year old, I grew up when these movies were staples on television and recognized almost all of the stars. All in all this is a great representation of when Hollywood was truly loaded with big movie stars. I'd cringe to think of what a modern version would look like. On a final note, there is nothing confusing about this cartoon and it doesn't matter if children don't get it. These cartoons were never meant for children as they were shown in movie theaters prior to the main events. This is a great representation of how things were at that time in Hollywood.
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Almost irrelevant today
Warning: Spoilers
"Hollywood Steps Out" is a 7.5-minute cartoon from 1941, so it's having its 75th anniversary this year. Not bad. It was written by Melvin Millar and the director is the famous Tex Avery giving us one of his earlier works. It's a Warner Bros Production together with Schlesinger Studios, both big players from that era, and counts among Warner Bros' Merrie Melodies. This is certainly misleading as music is almost non-existent in this little movie. I find it interesting how they depicted cartoon characters of so many famous stars from that time, but sadly, this is really all that the film is. Neither the dialogs nor the interactions and actions are memorable or interesting at all and with most people in this film being only known to major movie buffs, if at all, the film has not aged well at all. It may have been a good or great watch for its time during World War II, but for today it is not anymore. Thumbs down.
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Wonderful Avery short
Michael_Elliott20 October 2009
Hollywood Steps Out (1941)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Delightful Warner short doesn't have any real story to speak of but the highlight here is seeing all sorts of Hollywood stars out dancing at a club. We get countless cameos including Gable, Garbo, Hardy, Cagney, Bogart, Robinson, The Three Stooges, Rooney, Stewart, Weismuller, Grant and many others including Karloff as the Frankenstein monster. Again, there's no real story going on here as the entire seven-minutes is just a set up for the various stars to run into one another. There are quite a few highlights but one would have to be the seen with Cagney and Bogart planning some crimes. Another is the brilliant final gag that I won't spoil here but it certainly ends the film on a big laugh. It was also fun seeing all the spoofs thrown at Gable but one of the biggest laughs comes from an Andy Hardy joke. The film contains the usual great animation, nice score and the brilliant voice work by Mel Blanc.
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Watch this cartoon with an open mind.
Sinemah_Freek2 October 2009
What is this rubbish about this cartoon being confusing - confusing - really??? Anyway, although this short is not the very, very best piece of animation from Warner Bros., how can you not like it? It moves very quickly, has tons of celebrities (even though you might know who they are), and the music is wonderful. Please watch it on it's own merit, without any kind of bias. Forget about not knowing who all the celebrities are - just enjoy the sight gags, which are definitely funny. Also forget about any jokes that you cannot understand. The statement from someone on this board stating that the jokes are too difficult to understand, is something that I cannot understand, as just about anyone from around age 6 and up can understand or at least appreciate this cartoon. The jokes and sight gags are very obvious. So, why anyone cannot understand the jokes, etc. is a mystery to me! At any rate, just relax, enjoy the fantastic music (The CONGA, by the way, NOT the CHA-CHA as someone mentioned on this board), and the fast pace, and the great animation. This cartoon is very fun, in 1941, in 1975 and in 2009.
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The Stars at Night
JoeytheBrit22 July 2009
This must have been quite amusing in its day, and the mass of stars caricatured in it must have had a right old giggle when they saw themselves, but today it looks like one of those self-satisfied films that are pleased with how clever they are irrespective of the fact that they contain very little entertainment value. There's no plot to speak of, which would have been forgivable if there had been plenty of humour but there isn't really much of that either. The film will be of interest to those people like me who have an interest in all aspects of cinema but will be of only passing interest to most other people - and probably completely meaningless to anybody under 25 or so.
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Fun for film buffs
phantom_tollbooth1 October 2008
Tex Avery's 'Hollywood Steps Out' is a Hollywood caricature spot-gag cartoon which is mostly notable for film buffs who still recognise the celebrities being lampooned. As a film buff myself, I still enjoy 'Hollywood Steps Out' to a degree but it's more historically interesting than hilarious. Inevitably, there are a handful of gags that are difficult to understand for modern audiences but the cartoon is less dated that other reference-based cartoons thanks to a continued interest in the Golden Age of Hollywood. So even the most casual of movie fans should recognise the likes of Groucho Marx, Jimmy Stewart, Bing Crosby or the Three Stooges. It's a charming little short really but it lacks the punch that it would have had when the stars it was depicting were current celebrity icons. 'Hollywood Steps Out', then, is a fun star-spotting exercise for fans of classic entertainment and many of the jokes still work OK but there's nothing here that's likely to have you rolling in the aisles.
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Stars in Step!
Bruce Pantages19 June 2008
Hollywood Steps Out is paradise for the old movie fan, or someone familiar with the great performers of the Golden Era. Big name stars and character actors alike are all in motion to the beat of The Conga. In fact, in a running gag from the opening scene where the Kleig Lights are swaying in time to The Conga, right on through to the ending where Clark Gable catches Groucho Marx in drag, everyone seems to be doing that dance. Wouldn't you? I know I would! Fun stuff! For those who 'don't understand' this cartoon I suggest the following...either start watching classic movies, or watch other cartoons. Anyone who enjoys watching the classic movie era is going to love this. Those unfamiliar with those films, and their stars, are going to be lost. As for me, I watch this one over and over and still love it!
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Excuse me, Who Are These Celebrities?
mirosuionitsaki223 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Confusing, that is what this cartoon was. I feel sorry for the children that had to watch this. This cartoon was too confusing. I didn't understand the jokes, I didn't know any of the celebrities. I think the woman that turned out to be a man in the end was a parody of a movie directed by the director of Plan 9 From Outer Space, and I knew the three stooges. That's it.

This cartoon gave me a headache because I tried hard to understand what people were talking about. It was just random people every few seconds. Half the movie was just people doing the cha cha and one guy saying he doesn't know how to do the modern dances, so he moves to Washington so he won't be made fun of.

Anywho, I do recommend this cartoon for historians. That might just be it. This cartoon was too confusing for children, and also not recommended for them either. It had people smoking.
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Great for film historians and old movie buffs, but tough going for everyone else
MartinHafer12 June 2007
I am a huge fan of the Golden Age of Hollywood, but even I had a hard time sticking with this old and rather lame cartoon from Warner Brothers. I was able to follow the many inside jokes and I knew who the celebrities were who were being parodied, but nowadays most people won't know who the actors are who are being featured--meaning that the film certainly would have gone over a lot better in 1941. The problem, though, is that even if you do know who everyone is and what the references were about, it just wasn't particularly funny. As for me, I much prefer a Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck cartoon from the same time period. Still, it is an interesting curio that old movie buffs or historians might enjoy--just be forewarned that it's far from Warner's best.
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Star Gazing At Its Best!
ccthemovieman-116 April 2007
Were else could you see Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Oliver Hardy, James Cagney, Bing Crosby, Edward G. Robinson, The Three Stooges, Ann Sheridan, Johnny Weismuller in his Tarzan getup, Stripper Sally Rand with no getup, Harpo Marx, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, Mickeyu Rooney and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover all in the same movie? Only in a classic Looney Tunes cartoon like this! There were more, too. I couldn't spot them all.

It's a big night in Hollywood with tons of searchlights lighting up the skies, moving to the South American music. The camera zooms in from the air to Ciro's and quickly makes fun of the high prices at the exclusive restaurant. Inside is where we see all the movie celebrities, beginning with Cary Grant who refers to several of his movies in one sentence. It goes on from there, and is a lot of fun to watch.....at least if you are a fan of the Golden Age Of Movies.

It's just a showcase for some "star gazing" and some of the music of the period. Seeing the stars dance to the conga was the funniest bit, I thought, although the ending made me laugh out loud, too. (The biggest ham of the night? Clark Gable.)
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Fun and games at Ciro's
JohnHowardReid5 December 2006
The Hollywood set steps out at Ciro's to be precise, where the night-clubbing action is exclusively set. The script is not particularly amusing or inventive, but fascinating all the same. The voice impersonations are mostly very skillful. One of the longest spots has Jimmy Stewart declining an invitation to rumba. At least two gags deal with Crosby's horse-racing ventures, whilst the climax features a bubble dance by "Sally Strand". Naturally the stars in evidence at Ciro's on this particular night (Dinner $50 and up. Easy terms available) are weighted in favor of Warner Bros, though a number of "foreign" stars receive a fair innings including the Hardys (both real and fictional), the Three Stooges, and Harpo Marx. Some of the faces are glimpsed so fleetingly they will be difficult for a 2007 audience to recognize. And maybe two or three are now forgotten.

Musically, the film is a feast for song-lovers with snatches from Nat Ayer's "Oh, You Beautiful Doll", Tony Jackson and Egbert Van Alstyne's "Pretty Baby", Allie Wrubel's "The Lady in Red", Isham Jones' "It Had To Be You", James Brockman, James Kendis and Nat Vincent's "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles", M.K. Jerome's "Congo", Harry Warren's "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby", Murray Mencher's "Merrily We Roll Along" and others, all delightfully rendered by the studio orchestra under the baton of Leo F. Forbstein.

To sum up: In view of the star line-up, somewhat disappointing, but still a must for all movie buffs.
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I'd never even heard of Ciro's before this (and why no Charlie Chaplin or Katharine Hepburn?)
Lee Eisenberg26 November 2006
One of the early Looney Tunes shorts not featuring Bugs Bunny or his ilk, "Hollywood Steps Out" portrays bar Ciro's, frequented by the top stars from the '30s and '40s. It's a good thing that I saw this now, when I'm old enough to understand it; if I'd seen it when I was six or so, I wouldn't have understood any of it (let's face it: how many little children can identify Henry Fonda, Greta Garbo and Jimmy Stewart?). Two glowing omissions - at least in my opinion - were Charlie Chaplin and Katharine Hepburn (what makes this especially irritating is that they included Bing Crosby). But still, it's a pretty likable cartoon. A similar one was "Slick Hare".

Yeah, it would be funny seeing him there.
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Arguably the quintessential Hollywood caricature cartoon
slymusic9 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A wonderful Warner Bros. cartoon directed by Tex Avery, "Hollywood Steps Out" is perhaps the epitome of Hollywood celebrity caricatures. This cartoon essentially has no plot; all the various Hollywood personalities hang out at Ciro's, which was quite a popular nightclub back then, and they all have their comic moments. And that's basically it. (If you haven't yet seen this marvelous cartoon, please do not read any further.)

Among the familiar faces I recognize are Cary Grant, James Stewart (my favorite actor), Henry Fonda, Peter Lorre, Groucho & Harpo Marx, Clark Gable, Sonja Henie, the Three Stooges (Curly, Larry, and Moe), Oliver Hardy, Leopold Stokowski, Leon Schlesinger (an inside joke), Ned Sparks, J. Edgar Hoover, Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Bing Crosby, and James Cagney. There are numerous others I do not recognize.

"Hollywood Steps Out" is quite interesting to see how well all the various Hollywood celebrities are caricatured, not to mention the brilliant voice characterizations. Overall, this cartoon is comically entertaining.
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Transports you back to the '30's
movieman_kev31 October 2005
Set in the Legenday Hollywood hills restaurant Ciro's, this Tex Avery directed Looney Tunes short has way too many caricatures of popular actors and actresses of yesteryear to list them all here. It's notable to know that the stripper/ dancer scene is a prelude of shorts to Avery's later 'Red Hot Riding Hood' cartoons. It's a very interesting short and transports you back to the '30's even if you were born, like me, much MUCH later. This animated short can be seen on Disc 4 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 2 and also features an optional commentary by Greg Ford.

My Grade: A-
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Excellent example of a staple of the early animated shorts
Robert Reynolds2 February 2002
This short is jammed with caricatures of notables-mostly actors and actresses, but J. Edgar Hoover is here too, as are Leopold Stowkowski and Sally Rand. Not only stars (Gable, Garbo and Grant) but character actors (the almost mandatory Ned Sparks appearance is here) as well. It was an excellent concept, tailor-made for the animators. Their audience would recognize the caricatures and get the jokes easily. This is one of the better ones. Most, if not all the animation studios did at least one or two such shorts. Well worth looking for. Most recommended.
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