Hollywood Party
Warner Archives // Unrated // $19.99 // November 1, 2011
Review by John Sinnott | posted November 18, 2011
Highly Recommended
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A forgotten gem!
The Movie:
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 Velez, but it also has a cartoon in the middle that was animated at the Disney Studios and 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 women 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 producer 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 for his next film.  The problem is that his biggest competition, the star of the Liondora the Untamed series (George Givot) 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 can make 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 Clyde), go 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 wearing matching designer gowns. It's obviously they're not taking anything seriously.  Casting Lupe Velez as a "Jane" type character was an inside joke that movie goers of the day would have found amusing since 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, and interrupted, line "I want to say...." (hello)"  No Marx Brothers fan will be able to watch it without laughing and thinking of both "Hello, I Must Be Going" and "Hooray for Captain Spaulding with Groucho's interrupted line "and I want 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 with 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 met they'll never fall in love again.  At the end Eddie takes out a picture of his old girlfriend, crumples it up, and throws 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 the ground.

Another highlight is when Jimmy Durante argues with Mickey Mouse, but the greatest part of the film is easily the scene where Laurel and Hardy meet Lupe Velez.  The Boys get into a tit-for-tat argument with the fiery brunette involving a bowl full of raw eggs.  It's largely silent, but it's hilarious and Velez does a great job keeping up with Laurel and Hardy, which is quite a compliment.  
The DVD:

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 suffers a little, though I'll be the first to admit that it could have been filmed that way. There are a few specs and dirt on the print, but it's minor.  Overall this is a good looking disc.
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 to include.
Final Thoughts:
This is a great disc.  The movie pokes fun at Hollywood, it has appearances by a lot of stars (albeit minor ones), big production 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.

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