Watching entries from Louis Lewyn's Hollywood on Parade series is like being permitted to go behind the scenes with some of the biggest stars of the '30s in informal settings. Sometimes they're hanging out at the studio taking a break between scenes, and sometimes they're at home, just relaxing and being themselvesor so we're told. Sometimes the stars are making semi-casual public appearances, at a racetrack or a nightclub, and sometimes they participate in impromptu comic sketches. It was all calculated for publicity purposes, of course, just like the appearances of today's stars on talk shows, and yet despite the self-conscious posing for the cameras there's an offhand quality in most of this footage that's innocent and endearing. Lewyn's films stand as charming little souvenirs of Hollywood's golden age.
This episode is hosted by Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards, who opens the show reading the lyrics of the theme song from an enormous book of sheet music. Edwards pops up again throughout this newsreel-like short, but doesn't interact with the other stars. The first brief segment showcases Jean Harlow playing golf while an unnamed narrator rattles off obvious wisecracks (e.g. Jean "shows good form," etc.). Next we're off to the races at the Agua Caliente track in Mexico, where movie folk such as Harry Langdon, Polly Moran, and siblings Joan and Constance Bennett watch the horses run. Also in attendance are William Powell and Carole Lombard, who were married at the time. There's a cute effect when Powell raises his binoculars to watch the race and we're treated to a double-image of the track across his lensesa visual bit which must have stretched producer Lewyn's budget to the max.
The most interesting sequence is a tribute to the beautiful Mexican star Lupe Velez. A costumed mariachi band serenades a poster of her with a love song, and after a moment the image on the poster comes to life. It turns out to be a clip from Lupe's 1929 feature THE WOLF SONG, and for a minute or so we watch her dance with co-star Gary Cooper. They make a very attractive couple. For the climax Cliff Edwards returns in a Mexican costume and joins the mariachi band for some scat singing and a march finale.
That's it for Episode A-12 of this diverting series, an ideal lead-in to any flick from this period, along with a cartoon and a newsreel.
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