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What Price Hollywood? (1932)

Passed | | Drama | 24 June 1932 (USA)
The career of a waitress takes off when she meets an amiable drunken Hollywood producer.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

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Storyline

Brown Derby waitress Mary Evans befriends seldom-sober director Max Carey and is soon in the big-time. She hooks eastern millionaire Lonnie Borden but he soon tires of the Hollywood lifestyle and of playing second fiddle to a star. Carey looks on with interest when he can see straight. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Constance Bennett pays for fame in "What Price Hollywood".

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed
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Details

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Release Date:

24 June 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hollywood Madness  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$411,676 (estimated)
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Technical Specs

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(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson's first movie. See more »

Goofs

As Lowell Sherman enters the Brown Derby, the entry door at the actual exterior location changes from multi-paned to single-paned at the interior, soundstage set. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[Mary Evans is admiring a magazine photo of Clark Gable]
Mary Evans: Hmmmm. Oh, boy!
[Mary places the magazine photo against her face and pretends Gable is her lover. She speaks in an exaggerated voice]
Mary Evans: Daaahling, how I love you my daaahling, I love you I do.
[she puts the magazine down and returns to her normal voice]
Mary Evans: It's getting late and I must scram.
See more »

Connections

Version of A Star Is Born (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

The Wedding March
(1842) (uncredited)
Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Played on an organ in church during the wedding
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Powerful look at Hollywood in the early years
30 August 2005 | by See all my reviews

Another film that deserves a wider viewership and a DVD release, "What Price Hollywood?" looks at the toll Hollywood takes on the people who make it possible.

Adela Rogers St John wrote the Oscar-nominated story of a fading genius of a director, destroyed by drink, who launches one last discovery into the world. Lowell Sherman, himself both a director and an alcoholic, played the sad role that had been modeled, in part, on his own life. (Sherman's brother-in-law, John Barrymore, was also a model, as was the silent film director Marshall Neilan.) The divinely beautiful Constance Bennett plays the ambitious Brown Derby waitress who grabs her chance. Neil Hamilton, paired to great effect with Bennett that same year in "Two Against the World," plays the east-coast polo-playing millionaire who captures Bennett's heart without ever understanding her world.

George Cukor directed the film for RKO, and already the seeds of his directorial genius can be seen. Wonderful montages and double exposures chart Bennett's rise and fall as "America's Pal," and I've rarely seen anything as moving as the way Cukor presented Sherman's death scene, using quick shot editing, exaggerated sound effects and a slow motion shot. As startling as it looks today, one can only imagine the reaction it must have caused over 70 years earlier, before audiences had become accustomed to such techniques.

While the romantic leads are solid--Bennett, as always, especially so--and Gregory Ratoff is mesmerizing as the producer, hats must be doffed to Lowell Sherman for his Oscar-calibre performance. The slide from charming drunk to dissolute bum is presented warts and all, and a late scene in which the director examines his drink-ravaged face in the mirror is powerful indeed. It's hard to imagine what it must have been like for Sherman to play such a role and it was, in fact, one of the last roles he took for the screen, before concentrating on directing--then dying two years later of pneumonia.

When David O. Selznick made "A Star is Born" for United Artists five years later, four years after leaving RKO, the RKO lawyers prepared a point-by-point comparison of the stories, recommending a plagiarism suit--which was never filed. The later movie never credited Adela Rogers St John or any of the source material of "What Price Hollywood?" for its own screenplay, which was written by Dorothy Parker from, supposedly, an idea of Selznick's.

"What Price Hollywood?" is a great source for behind-the-scenes tidbits--Cukor fills the screen with images of on-set action (or inaction), with various crew waiting about as they watch the film-in-a-film action being filmed. This movie works as history and as innovation, but it also works on the most important level, as a well-told story.


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