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Going Hollywood: The 30's (1984)
** (out of 4)
Robert Preston hosts this documentary that shows what people of the 1930s were watching as they were battling the Depression as well as eventually getting ready for another World War. I'm willing to bet that when people watched this in 1984 they were amazed and highly entertained because it was probably the first time in decades that many of these film clips were shown. Today, with DVD, bootlegs and Turner Classic Movies, it's quite easy to see these movies if you want to so the structure of this documentary isn't nearly as effective. What we basically have is seventy-six minutes worth of film clips and the biggest problem is that this is one of those features that don't tell you what film the clips are from. Some are rather obvious as they show some major stars but there are some lesser known films that I'm sure most, including myself, would have liked to know what film they were from. Just about every famous face who was around during the 30s is highlighted here but the best section is when we see some of the newsreels of the day including one announcing that Rin Tin Tin had died. Some other good stuff is when we see the promotional things that studios were making at the time to show off their stars. This includes the now famous stuff dealing with Cecil B. DeMille giving some advice to a young actress. The one surprising thing is that through all of these clips there's very little to nothing shown about horror movies. Considering some of the controversial ones from MGM and the legendary stuff from Universal, it's a little shock to see them overlooked.
Robert Preston narrates this documentary about Hollywood during the 1930s. It's a decent enough overview of the period for the average viewer, however, for the serious film buff the film is severely lacking and COULD have been a lot better. First, although many of the stars in the MANY clips used were identified, many more were not. It was, at times, inexplicable. Second, NONE of the movies shown are identified...NONE! So, clip after clip are shown but you might have no idea which movies they are! And, if you like a clip and want to see the entire film, you probably have no idea where to start!! Third, and I think this is a much lesser problem, some of the prints used were pretty poor. My comments about this film, incidentally are much the same for "Going Hollywood: The War Years"--and probably is true of all the "Going Hollywood" Documentaries. Overall, worth seeing but just not all that well made. However, for the casual viewer, it will be somewhat educational and reasonably enjoyable.
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