Conrad Nagel, representing the Hollywood movie community, and Jack Benny, representing the Broadway stage community, act as the interlocutors of a musical comedy revue. A plethora of chorus boys and girls are featured front and center in some of the song and dance numbers, and provide back-up to some other acts. But the revue primarily is a vehicle to highlight a cavalcade of Hollywood movie and Broadway stage stars. One early running gag has both Nagel and Benny playing straight man to Cliff Edwards, who just wants a nice introduction to his act. Edwards would return later to be featured along with the Brox Sisters in one of the highlights of the second act, a production number around the song "Singin' in Rain", complete with rain soaked stage. A reprise of the song with the entire cast acts as the revue's finale.Written by
Jack Benny invented the idea of taking Bessie Love out of his pocket and have her grow larger. The effect was achieved by filming Love against a black velvet stage, and tracking in to make her appear to grow larger. See more »
After Cliff Edwards' opening number, one of the chorus girls in the background is chatting away with the girl next to her, when a sudden cut appears, and the same girl is now stone still (apparently the director told her in between to stop talking, and pay attention). See more »
Julie baby, I'm ga-ga about you. No kiddin', honey, your teeth are like pearls, your eyes are like diamonds and your lips - like rubies.
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Some sources list the original running time of "Hollywood Revue of 1929" as 130 minutes. At least two sequences in the original roadshow version are missing from current prints: an opening recitation by the showgirls who are seen posing in the "Hollywood Revue" sign after the opening credits, and the appearance of Nils Asther, who assisted Jack Benny in introducing the final "Orange Blossom" number. See more »
MGM used to boast that they had more stars than were in the heavens. This transitional picture shows some "stars", people who still have name recognition. Some of the performers were near the end of their career, some at the beginning, and others, probably did not have much of a career before or after this.
There's no real plot - it's pretty much a variety show hosted by Conrad Nagle and Jack Benny. There are some historical moments here - the first performance of "Singing in the Rain", the alleged cause of John Gilbert's career nosediving, Joan Crawford singing and dancing, some slapstick from Laurel & Hardy. There are appearances by the stunningly beautiful Anita Page who looks kind of sad while Conrad Nagle appears to be singing to her. William Haines, just before Louis B. Mayer ended his acting career, eating part of Jack Benny's clothing. Bessie Love appeared to come from one of Jack Benny's pockets - she said there was a $100 bill in the pocket, Benny quips that it's not his suit.
Parts of this was the inspiration of the movie "Singing in the Rain", which was done 20+ years later.
The pluses to this: some color sequences, including the closing performance of "Singing in the Rain", a weird dance sequence by Buster Keaton, who remains mute, and it's a great glimpse into Hollywood as it transitioned from the Silent Era to the age of "talkies". One interesting thing was the cameras weren't as static as they were for many of the early "talkies". There's also a kind of experimental dance sequence where it appears that they used some of the negatives in place of the processed film.
Some of the minuses are it wasn't a smooth transition from the Silent Era to the age of "talkies" - the sound quality is very inconsistent. Some people sounded kind of muffled, some people's voices weren't picked up very well. The version that was played by TCM on 8/4/08 wasn't closed captioned, so if you can't understand what someone is saying or singing, you don't have any captioning to help you out.
This is a good movie if you are interested in relatively early movies - it's almost 80 years old. It's also a chance to see some performers that didn't appear very often.
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