The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)

113 mins | Variety | 23 November 1929

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HISTORY

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (M-G-M) The Hollywood Revue of 1929 was “the first musical extravaganza without any attempt at a plot,” according to the 15 Jun 1929 Hollywood Filmograph. Credit for the innovative idea was given to producer Harry Rapf. Nearly the entire M-G-M stable of featured players, with the addition of vaudeville and comedy performers, participated in the Revue. The 22 Jun 1929 Motion Picture News stated that Rapf pursued the idea despite opposition from M-G-M executives, and agreed to claim full responsibility for its success or failure on his own. His initial concept for the picture reportedly did not include the M-G-M stars and players.
       The forthcoming picture was first announced in the 17 Mar 1929 FD as “Gus Edwards M-G-M Revue.” Orchestration was assigned to Karl Kramer, but he was not credited in later reviews. Edwards received a “music and lyrics by” onscreen credit, and was also listed as a cast member. A special musical number self-titled for Lon Chaney was anticipated to showcase the actor portraying his many famed characters. However, Lon Chaney did not appear in the film, which modern sources indicated may have been to his failing health. As reported in the 15 Aug 1929 NYT review, the picture still included a number, written by Gus Edwards, titled “Lon Chaney Will Get You If You Don’t Watch Out.”
       On 23 Mar 1929, Exhibitors Herald-World announced that production would begin the following week on The MGM Revue of Revues. The news item listed the following production credits: Christy Cabanne as director; Joe Goodwin as lyricist; Sammy Lee as ... More Less

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (M-G-M) The Hollywood Revue of 1929 was “the first musical extravaganza without any attempt at a plot,” according to the 15 Jun 1929 Hollywood Filmograph. Credit for the innovative idea was given to producer Harry Rapf. Nearly the entire M-G-M stable of featured players, with the addition of vaudeville and comedy performers, participated in the Revue. The 22 Jun 1929 Motion Picture News stated that Rapf pursued the idea despite opposition from M-G-M executives, and agreed to claim full responsibility for its success or failure on his own. His initial concept for the picture reportedly did not include the M-G-M stars and players.
       The forthcoming picture was first announced in the 17 Mar 1929 FD as “Gus Edwards M-G-M Revue.” Orchestration was assigned to Karl Kramer, but he was not credited in later reviews. Edwards received a “music and lyrics by” onscreen credit, and was also listed as a cast member. A special musical number self-titled for Lon Chaney was anticipated to showcase the actor portraying his many famed characters. However, Lon Chaney did not appear in the film, which modern sources indicated may have been to his failing health. As reported in the 15 Aug 1929 NYT review, the picture still included a number, written by Gus Edwards, titled “Lon Chaney Will Get You If You Don’t Watch Out.”
       On 23 Mar 1929, Exhibitors Herald-World announced that production would begin the following week on The MGM Revue of Revues. The news item listed the following production credits: Christy Cabanne as director; Joe Goodwin as lyricist; Sammy Lee as ensemble stage producer and director; Norman Houston as “skit” director; Al Boasberg as dialogue writer; and Arthur Lange as musical arrangement supervisor. The 31 Mar 1929 FD added tap dancer Sammy Cantor to the cast, and the 22 Jun 1929 Hollywood Filmograph named George Westmore as the picture’s make-up artist.
       The 8 Apr 1929 FD confirmed that production was underway at M-G-M Studios in Culver City, CA.
       The 5 May 1929 FD reported the title change to The Hollywood Revue of 1929, and announced Christy Cabanne and Charles Reisner as co-directors. Cabanne’s name was dropped from the production in following news items, and Reisner received sole directing credit.
       According to the 22 May 1929 Var, affidavits were obtained from the all-star cast, including Marion Davies, Joan Crawford and Conrad Nagel, to assure audiences that the performers real singing voices were used in the film. This was a response to public complaints that actor’s voices were often doubled in the new sound pictures. The action was undertaken by M-G-M’s head of publicity, Pete Smith.
       The 29 May 1929 Var noted the 2 Jun 1929 premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, but the event was delayed following a change in theater ownership. Fox purchased the movie house from Sid Grauman, who owned a one-third share, and United Artists, who held the remaining two-thirds. Grauman would also retire from theater operations, pending the deal with Fox who reportedly paid over $1 million for a forty-year lease. The theater would reopen in late Jun 1929 with the premiere of The Hollywood Revue of 1929.
       According to the 12 Jun 1929 FD, the picture would introduce Grauman’s “phantom screen” for one of its sequences, a newly developed “enlarged” screen. Although a 19 Jun 1929 premiere date was listed, the 15 Jun 1929 Hollywood Filmograph and the 18 Jun 1929 FD announced that the world premiere was set for 20 Jun 1929.
       A spectacular forty-by-thirty-five-foot “living sign” was used to promote the picture, which incorporated eight foot high letters spelling “Hollywood Revue,” with live models posing atop the letters, the 22 Jun 1929 Hollywood Filmograph and the 29 Jun 1929 Motion Picture News reported. The unveiling was held in Los Angeles “at the corner of Wilshire and Shatto,” and caused a traffic jam as over 10,000 people were reportedly in attendance. Bessie Love and several cast members were there. Credit for the sign again went to M-G-M’s publicity man Pete Smith. Subsequent nights replaced the live models with life-sized cutouts. The 6 Jul 1929 Exhibitors Herald-World noted that five blocks in both directions of the sign were closed to traffic for the event, in which Bessie Love raised the curtain to reveal the sign.
       According to the 24 Aug 1929 Exhibitors Herald-World, the stunt was repeated at New York City’s Astor Theatre ahead of its Aug 1929 opening, with “twenty-six girls in red, white and blue.” Traffic stopped in Times Square. The 30 Jul 1929 FD indicated that the picture’s release at the Astor Theatre occurred on 14 Aug 1929.
       The 29 Jun 1929 Exhibitors Herald-World deemed the Los Angeles event “the most brilliant premiere” of the year and noted that 3,000 people had attended at $5.50 per ticket. Joan Crawford’s singing debut was praised as “an unexpected hit,” and Marion Davies was deemed “a clever comedienne” for her tap-dancing performance on a bass drum. Of note was the introduction of “Singin’ In the Rain,” sung by Cliff [“Ukelele Ike”] Edwards, the Brox Sisters, and The Rounders. The song inspired the title of the Academy Award-winning 1952 picture Singin’ in the Rain starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynalds, and featured performances of the title song in the film (see entry).
       The Hollywood Revue of 1929 was nominated for an Academy Award for “Outstanding Picture.”
       Copyright records and most contemporary reviews listed the film's title simply as The Hollywood Revue. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Herald-World
23 Mar 1929
p. 39.
Exhibitors Herald-World
29 Jun 1929
p. 150.
Exhibitors Herald-World
6 Jul 1929
p. 112.
Exhibitors Herald-World
24 Aug 1929
p. 40.
Film Daily
17 Mar 1929
p. 6.
Film Daily
31 Mar 1929
p. 30.
Film Daily
8 Apr 1929
p. 4.
Film Daily
5 May 1929
p. 6.
Film Daily
12 Jun 1929
p. 1.
Film Daily
18 Jun 1929
p. 98.
Film Daily
30 Jul 1929
p. 2.
Film Daily
18 Aug 1929
p. 10.
Hollywood Filmograph
15 Jun 1929
p. 7, 19-42.
Hollywood Filmograph
22 Jun 1929
p. 6, 19.
Motion Picture News
22 Jun 1929
p. 2207.
Motion Picture News
29 Jun 1929
p. 2339.
New York Times
15 Aug 1929
p. 30.
Variety
22 May 1929
p. 5.
Variety
29 May 1929
p. 8, 20.
Variety
26 Jun 1929
p. 12, 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost
Cost
MUSIC
Music arr
Music arr
Music arr
SOUND
Rec eng
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
DANCE
Dance ensembles
Dance ensembles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Elec
SOURCES
SONGS
"Singin' in the Rain," "You Were Meant for Me" and "Tommy Atkins on Parade," words by Arthur Freed, music by Nacio Herb Brown
"Low-Down Rhythm," words by Raymond Klages, music by Jesse Greer
"For I'm the Queen," words and music by Andy Rice and Martin Broones
+
SONGS
"Singin' in the Rain," "You Were Meant for Me" and "Tommy Atkins on Parade," words by Arthur Freed, music by Nacio Herb Brown
"Low-Down Rhythm," words by Raymond Klages, music by Jesse Greer
"For I'm the Queen," words and music by Andy Rice and Martin Broones
"Gotta Feelin' for You," words by Joe Trent, music by Louis Alter
"Bones and Tambourines" and "Tableaux of Jewels," words and music by Fred Fisher
"Lon Chaney's Going to Get You (If You Don't Watch Out)," words by John T. Murray, music by Gus Edwards
"While Strolling Through the Park One Day," words and music by Ed Haley and Robert A. Keiser
"Your Mother and Mine," "Orange Blossom Time," "Minstrel Days," "Nobody But You" and "I Never Knew I Could Do a Thing Like That," words by Joe Goodwin, music by Gus Edwards.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
M-G-M Revue
M-G-M Revue of Revues
Release Date:
23 November 1929
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre: 20 June 1929
New York opening at the Astor Theatre: 14 August 1929
Production Date:
began late March 1929
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Copyright Date:
23 September 1929
Copyright Number:
LP800
Physical Properties:
Sound
Movietone
Black & white with color sequences
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
113
Length(in feet):
11,669
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

The show opens with a minstrel chorus and dance routine, and Jack Benny and Conrad Nagel are introduced as masters of ceremony. Joan Crawford sings "Gotta Feelin' for You," amidst a dance specialty, finishing with the Biltmore Quartet. Charles King does "Your Mother and Mine," before a minstrel chorus, and Conrad Nagel sings "You Were Meant for Me" to Anita Page. Cliff Edwards and his "uke" render "Nobody But You," and William Haines and Jack Benny do a comedy sketch. Bessie Love comes out of Benny's pocket in miniature and with a male chorus sings "I Could Never Do a Thing Like That," climaxed by a dance number. Next, Marie Dressler and Polly Moran in a comedy number sing "For I'm the Queen," and Laurel and Hardy do a sketch as magician. Marion Davies sings "Tommy Atkins on Parade" with a male chorus and does some tap dancing. The Brox Sisters introduce a song and dance ensemble. "The Tableau of Jewels" opens the second act, followed by "The Dance of the Sea," in which Buster Keaton appears. Gus Edwards sings "Lon Chaney" and is followed by the Natova company in an adagio dance. Norma Shearer and John Gilbert appear next in a Technicolor "Romeo and Juliet" balcony sequence with Lionel Barrymore, updated to flapper language. On a glass stage, Cliff Edwards and a dance ensemble appear in "Singin' in the Rain." Two comedy routines follow: "Charlie, Ike and Gus" and "Marie, Polly, and Bess," climaxed by "Strolling Through the Park." The Technicolor finale features Charles King singing "Orange Blossom Time," followed by two dance numbers performed by the Albertina Rasch Ballet. A replica of Noah's Ark and ... +


The show opens with a minstrel chorus and dance routine, and Jack Benny and Conrad Nagel are introduced as masters of ceremony. Joan Crawford sings "Gotta Feelin' for You," amidst a dance specialty, finishing with the Biltmore Quartet. Charles King does "Your Mother and Mine," before a minstrel chorus, and Conrad Nagel sings "You Were Meant for Me" to Anita Page. Cliff Edwards and his "uke" render "Nobody But You," and William Haines and Jack Benny do a comedy sketch. Bessie Love comes out of Benny's pocket in miniature and with a male chorus sings "I Could Never Do a Thing Like That," climaxed by a dance number. Next, Marie Dressler and Polly Moran in a comedy number sing "For I'm the Queen," and Laurel and Hardy do a sketch as magician. Marion Davies sings "Tommy Atkins on Parade" with a male chorus and does some tap dancing. The Brox Sisters introduce a song and dance ensemble. "The Tableau of Jewels" opens the second act, followed by "The Dance of the Sea," in which Buster Keaton appears. Gus Edwards sings "Lon Chaney" and is followed by the Natova company in an adagio dance. Norma Shearer and John Gilbert appear next in a Technicolor "Romeo and Juliet" balcony sequence with Lionel Barrymore, updated to flapper language. On a glass stage, Cliff Edwards and a dance ensemble appear in "Singin' in the Rain." Two comedy routines follow: "Charlie, Ike and Gus" and "Marie, Polly, and Bess," climaxed by "Strolling Through the Park." The Technicolor finale features Charles King singing "Orange Blossom Time," followed by two dance numbers performed by the Albertina Rasch Ballet. A replica of Noah's Ark and the principals performing "Singin' in the Rain" conclude the show. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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