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The Hollywood Revue of 1929

The Hollywood Revue of 1929: One of the earliest ventures into the new talkie format of motion pictures, this film, directed by Charles Riesner for MGM, brought together some top acts in a two-hour vaudeville show hosted by Jack Benny. Called an “All-Star Musical Extravaganza,” the film includes bizarre performances by once and future stars, including Joan Crawford singing and dancing on stage. Other acts feature Lionel Barrymore, Marion Davies, John Gilbert, Buster Keaton, Marie Dressler and Norma Shearer. Highlights of the film are musical performances (including the debut of Singing In The Rain) by Cliff Edwards ("Ukelele Ike") and a comedy routine starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as a team of inept magicians.

For showings in major cities, portions of the film were originally in the early 2-strip Technicolor process.

The film is clunky and uneven by today's standards. It is little more than a hodgepodge of unconnected skits, many of which have little artistic value for modern audiences. The film has more in common with mid-20th century television variety shows than with later movie musicals. Nevertheless, The Hollywood Review of 1929 offers some interesting insights into the decline of the great stars of silent movies and a glimpse at the early careers of some of the major figures of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Clumsy as it may now seem, the film was popular with audiences, who were still unaccustomed to the new medium of sound, and it even won an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.