The Hollywood Revue of 1929 is a 1929 part Technicolor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer American musical-comedy film. It was the studio's second feature-length musical, and one of the earliest ventures into the talkie format. Produced by Harry Rapf and directed by Chuck Riesner, the film brought together some of MGM's most popular performers in a lavish two-hour revue. The two masters of ceremonies are Conrad Nagel and Jack Benny. A month after this movie, Warner Brothers released The Show of Shows, a musical revue which was photographed almost entirely in Technicolor and a full talking picture.
Unlike M-G-M's imposing feature films, which always boasted strong story values, The Hollywood Revue of 1929 was a plotless parade of variety acts. Conrad Nagel, interviewed for the book "The Real Tinsel", recalled, "Everybody thought Harry Rapf was crazy for making it." Billed as an "All-Star Musical Extravaganza," the film includes performances by once and future stars, including Joan Crawford singing and dancing on stage. (She later remarked, "Revue was one of those let's-throw-everyone-on-the-lot-into-a musical things, but I did a good song-and-dance number."). Other segments feature Lionel Barrymore, Marion Davies, Gus Edwards, John Gilbert, Buster Keaton, Marie Dressler, Anita Page, Norma Shearer, and the comedy team of Karl Dane and George K. Arthur. Highlights of the film are a comedy routine starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as inept magicians, and a variety of musical performances. One of these is the debut of "Singin' in the Rain," performed initially by Cliff Edwards as "Ukelele Ike,'" and later performed at the end of the film by the entire cast. This latter all-star color sequence was a last-minute addition to the film, shot late at night on June 10, 1929, just ten days before the premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The only major M-G-M stars missing from the revue are Greta Garbo, Ramón Novarro, and Lon Chaney, Sr., although Chaney is referred to by name in one of the songs performed. Only one sequence was cut from the film: three songs by The Brox Sisters, which was recycled into a short subject, Gems of MGM. Another sequence, a parody of the Albertina Rasch ballet's "pearl dance" by Marie Dressler, was planned but not shot (as the film's production records reveal). Instead, the number was replaced by one featuring Buster Keaton, though Dressler did pose for stills wearing a Lady Godiva wig.
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