A forgotten gem!
Warner Archives has released a great little comedy number
from 1934, Hollywood Party, and it's the find of the year.
Funny, entertaining, and historical, it's a
film that should be well known, but really isn't. Not
only does it feature appearances by Ted
Healy and "His Stooges", Laurel and Hardy, Jimmy Durante, and Lupe
it also has a cartoon in the middle that was animated at the Disney
is in Technicolor no less. Oh yeah, and
Mickey Mouse makes an appearance too. There
are big production numbers and a slew of lesser stars that show up, the
wearing elegant and often risqué gowns.
What more could you ask for in a film?
The movie really doesn't have much of a plot. Jimmy
Durante plays the star of a series of
action-adventure films: Schnarzan, "the
mighty monarch of the mudlands." His
movies haven't been doing that well at the box office however, and the
wants to spice things up by getting some new, fierce jungle creatures. Baron Munchausen (Jack Pearl) has just
arrived in town fresh from a trip to Africa
and has brought back a group of lions that Durante desperately needs
next film. The problem is that his
biggest competition, the star of the Liondora the Untamed series
wants the lions too. To guarantee that
Munchhausen sell the animals to him, Jimmy throws the largest Hollywood
party ever, with the Baron as guest of honor.
Subplots involve Lupe Velez, who plays the female lead in
the Schnarzan films, crashing the party (Jimmy didn't invite her
because of her
temper), and Laurel and Hardy trying to talk to the Baron so that he
good on the check for 50,000 Tiddly Winks that he gave them. There's also an Oklahoma oil millionaire (Charles
Butterworth), his wife (Polly Moran), and niece (the gorgeous June
to the party looking for movie stars, royalty, and love respectively.
The great thing about this film is that the whole thing is Hollywood poking fun at itself.
The production numbers are over the top, as
is the party itself. There is a wall
full of musicians and the operators taking down the RSVPs are all
matching designer gowns. It's obviously they're not taking anything
seriously. Casting Lupe Velez as a "Jane"
was an inside joke that movie goers of the day would have found amusing
she was married to Johnny "Tarzan" Weissmuller at the time.
There's also a great parody of the Marx Brothers. When
Baron Munchhausen enters he's introduced
as a great African explorer and the man sings a song with the repeated,
interrupted, line "I want to say...." (hello)"
No Marx Brothers fan will be able to watch it without laughing
thinking of both "Hello, I Must Be Going" and "Hooray for Captain
with Groucho's interrupted line "and
you to know..." from Animal Crackers.
The ironic thing is that this parody
obviously had a much larger budget than the original.
The Three Stooges (and Ted Healy) play obnoxious autograph
seekers ("Have you gotten many autographs?"
"Yeah, one more and I'll have two!") and there's a great number
June Clyde and Eddie Quillan, "I've Had My Moments", where the two
admit, in song, that they've been in love before but now that they've
they'll never fall in love again. At the
end Eddie takes out a picture of his old girlfriend, crumples it up,
it on the ground. June takes out a
locket with an old lover's image and discards that.
Then Eddie discards a cigarette case an old
flame gave him, and June matches that. Soon
there's a pile of discarded keepsakes on
Another highlight is when Jimmy Durante argues with Mickey
Mouse, but the greatest part of the film is easily the scene where
Hardy meet Lupe Velez. The Boys get into
a tit-for-tat argument with the fiery brunette involving a bowl full of
eggs. It's largely silent, but it's
hilarious and Velez does a great job keeping up with Laurel and Hardy,
quite a compliment.
The original mono soundtrack comes across nicely. Background
noise is very minimal and the
dialog is clear.
I was very happy with the full frame black and white
image. The level of detail is fine and
the image is very clear. The contrast is
generally very good, though in some of the exterior night scenes it
little, though I'll be the first to admit that it could have been
way. There are a few specs and dirt on the print, but it's minor. Overall this is a good looking
In case you haven't been paying attention, Warner Archives
has been sneaking extras on to a few of their discs.
This disc comes with a slew of alternate
takes and unused songs from the film, nine in all.
These are audio only, but it was a nice bonus
This is a great disc.
The movie pokes fun at Hollywood,
it has appearances by a lot of stars (albeit minor ones), big
numbers, and it's funny to boot. On top
of the image quality is very good and there are some nice bonus songs. The certainly don't make 'em like this any
more. Highly Recommended.