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Hollywood Hotel
Hollywood Hotel
Actors: Eddie Acuff, Don Barclay, Benny Goodman, Curt Bois, William B. Davidson
Genres: Comedy, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2008     1hr 49min

Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 09/16/2008


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Movie Details

Actors: Eddie Acuff, Don Barclay, Benny Goodman, Curt Bois, William B. Davidson
Genres: Comedy, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Musicals
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 09/16/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 49min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Dick Powell is just fine, and Richard Whiting's and Johnny M
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 10/14/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"It may be that Hollywood has made a musical with a more energetic, dynamic opening than Hollywood Hotel, but I haven't come across it. Right off the bat there's Benny Goodman and his orchestra, all dressed in white suits, each standing in a convertible, all being driven down a highway led by motorcycle cops to the St. Louis airport, and all playing loud and fast one of Richard Whiting's and Johnny Mercer's greatest songs. They're sending off to Hollywood the orchestra's saxophonist, Ronnie Bowers (Dick Powell), who has just won a ten-week contract in Tinsel Town. Without skipping a beat, Johnnie Davis, a mug-faced trumpet player, starts singing the lyrics, then Frances Langford picks up a chorus or two.

Hooray for Hollywood!
That screwy, ballyhooey Hollywood!
Where any office boy or young mechanic
Can be a panic with just a good-looking pan!
And any barmaid can be a star maid
If she dances with or without a fan!

Hooray for Hollywood!
Where you're terrific if you're even good!
Where anyone at all from Shirley Temple
To Aimee Semple is equally understood!
Come on and try your luck, you could be Donald Duck!
Hooray for Hollywood!

It would be hard to top this, and Hollywood Hotel doesn't come close. The problem is the plot -- it's too complicated and goes on too long -- and, surprisingly, since Whiting and Mercer wrote the songs -- the songs they wrote. With the exception of Hooray for Hollywood, their songs in my opinion are pleasant but not especially memorable. "Let That Be a Lesson to You" has a clever Mercer lyric but is staged with great corn by director Busby Berkeley. It's no accident, I think, that Hooray for Hollywood not only became a smash but Tinsel Town's de facto anthem. It's that good.

Hollywood Hotel is stuffed with mix-ups, misunderstandings and mistaken identities, but none of them are worth remembering. The plot has to do with the naive and enthusiastic Ronnie and his adventures thinking he'll be a star. There's the snooty leading lady (Lola Lane) who takes a walk, the waitress substitute who looks like her and fools Ronnie (Rosemary Lane, doing a nice job imitating an uber-gracious leading lady), the dense and egotistical leading man (Alan Mowbray) and on and on. Ronnie loses his big break, winds up selling hamburgers and malts, but then he comes back big. Mowbray is just fine, especially when he's miming "I've Hitched My Wagon to a Star" with Powell's voice. Dr. Benny Goodman and his orchestra provide a number of musical injections, including "Sing, Sing, Sing." Several of his key players such as Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, and Teddy Wilson are featured. There are the uncredited-and-very-young-future-stars to spot, such as Susan Hayward, Ronald Reagan and Carole Landis. On the other hand, there's Hugh Herbert to endure (he's even in a black face bit), Mabel Todd (a kind of bargain basement Cass Dailey) and Luella Parsons playing herself. Parsons is particularly awful.

And there's Dick Powell, who manages to give the movie some energy as the likable, singing Ronnie Bowers. Powell seemed always to play cocky, confident guys. Here's he's an innocent in Hollywood, but just as energetic and confident. By now, 1937, he could see the writing on the wall...namely, the ruin of his career if he couldn't get out of playing light romantic singing leads in brainless musicals. He finally managed with Murder My Sweet in 1944 when he was 40, but it took him seven years. During that time he was placed in silliness with titles like The Cowboy from Brooklyn, Hard to Get, Going Places, Naughty But Nice and I Want a Divorce. He might have been a bit lucky with Murder My Sweet, but he also was persistent, ambitious and smart about what he needed. One of these days I hope we'll see DVD versions of two movies of his I like a lot. One is The Tall Target (1951). Powell is a detective out to foil a conspiracy to kill Lincoln as the President-elect travels to Washington for his first inaugural. It's a well-made, taut period mystery. Then there's You Never Can Tell (1951), a wry comedy about a German Shepherd who inherits millions and is promptly poisoned. He comes back to earth for a few days as a human to find who killed him and to protect the young woman who'd cared for him. Powell plays the temporary human, named Rex of course.

Renting Hollywood Hotel may be the only chance you'll have to hear all the choruses to Hooray for Hollywood. It's one of Mercer's best sets of comedy lyrics."
Very well made farce in neat package
Douglas M | 11/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Hollywood Hotel" was maybe the last of the big budget musicals from Warner Brothers in the thirties. The cycle was running out of steam, particularly when the Hays Code censorship removed the sting in the screenplays and finally when Dick Powell, fed up with playing singing ninnies, left the studio. This one is based on a radio show of the same name, hosted by Hearst gossip columnist, Louella Parsons. The film is a spoof of stardom with Lola Lane playing a temperamental star and Powell trying to get a break. As farce, the film is quite amusing, the highlight being the hilarious performance by Alan Mowbray as a ham leading man. He steals the film.
Here are some points to note:

- Rosemary Lane plays the ingenue opposite Powell. Lane has charm to spare and a spirited presence but her trained soprano does not lend itself to the pop tunes. Her singing voice grates.
- the songs from Johnny Mercer are not memorable with 2 exceptions. Both "Hooray for Hollywood" and "Let that be a Lesson for you" have bouncy arrangements and dynamic visuals with Busby Berkeley flying around on his boom. The lyrics are tossed around too and this really makes them energetic and entertaining.
- Benny Goodman's band appears and Harry James solos some choruses.
- Louella Parsons grins her role, sure determined to convince us she is a nice person, which she was decidely not.
- Ronald Reagan and Carole Landis are clearly visible in bit parts, the former as a radio announcer and the latter as a hat check girl.

The print is in great condition and there are quite a few extras. The short film with ventriloquist Edgar Bergin and puppet Charlie McCarthy is typical dated fare and the technicolour short on Scottish poet Robbie Burns is horrible although the colour is preserved well. It is hilarious to see the arid California country doubling for rugged Scotland. The cartoon is good fun with Porky Pig in an imaginative fantasy which manages to tie into the film and its songs cleverly. The original trailer is of unusual interest too because it contains a chorus of Frances Langford which does not appear in the film (you can see where it has been cut when you view the film) and an alternative take of the finale.

The DVD is best value if purchased as part of the second set of the films of Busby Berkeley."
"That screwy ballyhooey Hollywood!"
Samantha Kelley | USA | 09/21/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Ronnie Bowers (Dick Powell) is a saxophone player in Benny Goodman's band, but Hollywood is calling. He has just been signed to a short term trial contract there, so off he goes to a world of luxury and extravagance. He checks in at the Hollywood Hotel where the famous Mona Marshall (Lola Lane) is staying. He is even selected to escort her to a premiere, but trouble arises when Mona's temperament prevents her from attending. At the last minute, a lookalike named Virginia (Rosemary Lane) steps in and no one is the wiser. Ronnie quickly falls for his date, unaware that she is simply a waitress with a beautiful voice. And is Mona mad when she finds out her doppleganger is running around town!

The story is silly and the music isn't overly memorable, but there is something about this film that is truly enjoyable. The sets are fabulous and so very art deco. The cast abounds with notable faces from gossip columnist Louella Parsons to vaudeville talent Ted Healy to big band icon Benny Goodman to fast talking Glenda Farrell. Songs like "I'm a Fish Out of Water" and "I've Hitched My Wagon to a Star" are sweet and light, just like the film. "Horray for Hollywood" is the obvious standout, a good commentary on the ways of Hollywood.

Hollywood Hotel began as a radio show. In the mid 1930s, Parsons used her influence on many top notch stars and coerced them to appear on the radio program. Powell was the master of ceremonies and all of the action took place in the Orchid Room which is also featured here. In reality, no such place existed, but Hollywood constantly got calls from tourists hoping to reserve seating there. Unfortunately, only four episodes are known to exist today and of those four only two are in circulation among collectors. This film is not an accurate representative of the radio show, but it is the closest that most people will get to it."
It's enough to make me grab a saxophone and head on out to H
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 03/06/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Hollywood Hotel has plenty of action--and terrific swing music especially with Benny Goodman and His Band in tow! The plot moves along pretty quickly although they could have edited out some footage; at times the plot has too many complications. The acting is very convincing with the exception of Mabel Todd who plays Dot Marshall, the kid sister of famous Hollywood actress Mona Marshall (Lola Lane). Mabel overacts and director Busby Berkeley should have told her to tone it down; watching Mabel do the role of Dot Marshall gets on my nerves. On the other hand the cinematography is excellent and the choreography works very well.

When the action starts, we get that remarkably famous, timeless ode to Tinsel Town entitled "Hooray For Hollywood" performed by Benny Goodman, his band and some musicians who were born to ham it up by belting out this tune! We quickly discover that the band is at the airport to give a send-off to their saxophone player Ronnie Bowers (Dick Powell). Ronnie has a ten week contract with All Star Studios in Hollywood and although Ronnie doubts he'll reach stardom he's pretty excited anyway.

Once in Hollywood, however, things don't go so well for poor Ronnie. The big Hollywood star Mona Marshall (Lola Lane) is frantically planning her big appearance that night at the Hollywood premiere of her latest picture with co-star Alexander DuPrey (Alan Mowbray), but when Mona finds out that she has lost the coveted role in the upcoming movie production of "Bitter Night" she throws a huge tantrum and refuses to attend the premiere. All Star Studio head 'B.L.' Faulkin (Grant Mitchell) tries to convince Mona that she's too good for "Bitter Night" but Mona boycotts the premiere. The studio itself panics and hires a Mona Marshall look-alike named Virginia Stanton (Rosemary Lane) to pose as Mona Marshall--and then they hand-pick Ronnie to escort the person he thinks is Mona Marshall to the premiere.

Ronnie becomes smitten with "Mona," who is, of course, really Virginia; and they begin a romance that gets complicated by misunderstandings and more. Eventually, at least some things gets straightened out even though Mona has them both banned from All Star Studios.

Other things can go wrong; and so the plot can go anywhere from here. Ronnie finds work as a singing waiter at a drive-in coffee shop; but when a director at All Star wants Ronnie to dub songs for Alexander DuPrey there could be trouble and heavy politics if Mona ever finds out that Ronnie is back at All Star. How did Mona get her way about having Ronnie banned from All Star in the first place? Moreover, what happens when Virginia poses as Mona, picks up DuPrey at his home and takes him in her car supposedly to the Hollywood Hotel for a radio show appearance? What about "Fuzzy" (Ted Healy), the man Ronnie hires to be his agent--will "Fuzzy" do a good job and get Ronnie work? Watch the movie and find out!

Some of the best moments in the picture come when we are treated to seeing Benny Goodman and His Band perform both at the beginning and closer to the end of the picture. They do a rousing rendition of "Sing Sing Sing" and Frances Langford appears as a singer for Raymond Paige and His Orchestra. Great! Louella Parsons plays herself in this film. The other songs, including "I'm A Fish Out Of Water," are generally quite sweet and they come throughout the film.

The DVD comes with a few extras. We get a Porky Pig cartoon and another bonus feature that has some vaudeville act footage. There's also am extra bonus that features Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.

Overall, Hollywood Hotel is a fine motion picture that suffers a bit from too much going on at once. I think Warner Brothers wanted to turn out a wild, jam packed full of action film with well written, snappy lines but they overdid it; the plot suffers from an occasional manic spell every once in a while. It remains one of the better films from this era, though, and I do recommend it for fans of the actors in this film and director Busby Berkeley.