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A Trip Thru a Hollywood Studio (1935)

After showing establishing shots from the air or outside the gates of several of the 1930s major movie studios, the viewer is taken inside Warner Bros. studios to get a behind-the-scenes look at the film-making process.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
William Ray ...
Narrator (voice)
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Storyline

This short first shows the audience the entrances of the major Hollywood studios, then visits the Warner Brothers/First National studio. We start at the casting office, then get to see Busby Berkeley and choreographer Bobby Connolly working with chorus girls on production numbers. Then come some candid shots of several contract stars, such as Warren William, Ann Dvorak, and Pat O'Brien. Finally, we see comedian Hugh Herbert filming a scene for an upcoming release. Written by David Glagovsky <dglagovsky@verizon.net>

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Short | Documentary

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Approved | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

2 February 1935 (USA)  »

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1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This short film is included as a bonus on the Warner DVD of 42nd Street (1933). See more »

Quotes

[Hugh Herbert finishes putting on his make-up]
Hugh Herbert: A little powder, a little paint, make little Hughie look what he ain't!
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Connections

References Wonder Bar (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

You Oughta Be in Pictures
(uncredited)
Music by Dana Suesse
Played during the opening credits
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User Reviews

 
A 10-minute time capsule from Hollywood's Golden Age
1 August 2004 | by See all my reviews

Here's an interesting curio for movie buffs, a brief "behind the screen" documentary produced at the peak of the Hollywood studio system. Although the short begins with quick shots of each of the major studios (Fox, RKO, Paramount, MGM and Universal) and a few words about each, the bulk of the action takes place on the Warner Brothers lot -- which is only natural, seeing as how this film was distributed by Warners.

At times this short feels like an example of the publicity puffery that filled the fan magazines of the day. The narrator calls Hollywood "the city of magic" and rattles off a few other clichés about aspiring stars and starlets searching for the Aladdin's lamp of success, etc. The home movie-style shots of the stars in relaxed moments also suggests a P.R. exercise: we watch Dolores Del Rio posing for stills, Alice White walking her dog, and James Cagney getting a light for his cigarette from a studio technician while the narrator assures us that Jimmy is a "regular guy." We get a very brief glimpse of choreographer Busby Berkeley at work, and a more extended look at chorus girls rehearsing a dance number that was probably staged for this film.

But when this mini-documentary turns to the technical side of the process it goes into surprising detail, giving the viewer a crash course in state-of-the-art filmmaking as it was practiced on the grand scale in 1935. There is discussion of sound recording technology (still fairly new, of course), the developing and editing of film, and several views of the personnel who handled these tasks, all hard at work. The machinery required for these chores at the time was bulky, elaborate, and fascinating to see.

Ironically, for the purposes of the demonstration these technicians and their devices are put to work on a comic sequence featuring comedian Hugh Herbert that hardly seems worth all the effort. We're told the scene comes from an upcoming feature but it appears to have been staged for this short, and it's not especially funny. So we're left with the impression of all these skilled technicians and their amazing machines expending great effort to bring the world rather lame, hokey entertainment. Something tells me that's not the impression the makers of this little documentary intended to convey.


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