>>> Click here for the RMC FAQ'N RULES <<<


Your September UMC Results Are In!

Tagline: None

Pizza: None



Before I tell you about the onscreen stuff, there's something you should know about MGM's HOLLYWOOD PARTY (1934). It's a mess. There were at least seven writers, including Howard Dietz, who aside from writing the song THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT (and over 500 others) created the MGM logo that's still used today. And get this - HOLLYWOOD PARTY had eight directors, including George Stevens (GIANT) and Sam Wood (DAY AT THE RACES/NIGHT AT THE OPERA), and none of them took a director's credit. If HOLLYWOOD PARTY came out today, it would have been directed by Alan Smithee, Alan Smithee, Alan Smithee, Alan Smithee, Alan Smithee, Alan Smithee, Alan Smithee and the great Alan Smithee.

What a goofy, fun and short (a few minutes north of an hour) movie. When Hollywood was young, and Talkies younger, it wasn't uncommon for studios like Warners, Paramount, RKO and MGM to assemble their contract players (and hottie chorus girls...wait, is "hottie" still used?) in a variety format, contrive a story, and somehow squeeze them in. Hell, we even watched one here at RMC once, an MGM film called HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929. The studios used all their stars just to see who would float to the surface. Because of this, many faded away without being given a fair shake. Others either soldiered on or reinvented themselves, like Joan Crawford, who in HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929 was a singer/dancer.

HOLLYWOOD PARTY, featuring three Rodgers and Hart songs, was one of the last of these variety movies. Jimmy Durante plays himself, except in this alternate film world he's famous for his movie portrayal of a Tarzan-y character named Schnarzan (funny already), the Mighty Monarch of the Mudlands. But a new hotshot, Liondora, is out to dethrone him from his jungle movie kingdom. A movie theater owner tells both Schnarzan and Liondora's managers that the public is getting fed up, and that they need to fight
real lions now. So just how do we get from this flimsy conceit to a Hollywood party? Well...it turns out that Baron Munchausen (Jack Pearl) and his lions happen to be coming to town, and if Durante can woo him, he just may be able to appropriate a few big cats. So he throws a Hollywood party, which begins with a big production number called:

HOLLYWOOD PARTY. In lieu of an invite we're treated to chorus girl telephone operators (two professions both largely gone today) in futuristic costumes and neon switchboards singing to us with glee: "Bring along your girl, go home with someone else's. Forget about your girl. She's gonna do alright." It's heartwarming to know that parties in Hollywood haven't changed since the '30s. Anyway, Liondora has the same idea to suck up to Baron Munchausen. To do so, he must crash Durante's Hollywood party, a party so big that Robert Young is there to provide details for a radio broadcast.

Baron Munchausen (Jack Pearl)
The party begins with a song, FEELING HIGH, featuring an ultra-cool concept where the players in the band (I counted 44) each perform on their own separate platform in front of a curtain, on different levels. It's like a wall of musicians. FEELING HIGH is sung by Shirley Ross, Arthur Jarrett, and singer/actor/uncle of Chuck - Harry Barris. Only three minutes later, another musical number, this one called HELLO, finds the players welcoming the arrival of Munchausen. This is just filmed wackiness. It's like HOORAY FOR CAPTAIN SPAULDING on 'shrooms. It starts off routinely enough, then natives in full native attire join the chorus girls. And Munchausen? He arrives in the arms of a gorilla, which I'm not sure, but I think is meant to be real. He is the son of King Kong (which was released only a year earlier), and his name is Ping Pong. Then Durante and Munchausen tango together. Moving on...

Sometime during every Hollywood shindig someone will become the life of the party. Here, it's Mickey Mouse, on loan from Disney. I think this is the only time Disney made such an arrangement. In fact, some prints of HOLLYWOOD PARTY have Mickey's scene excised, since contractually Disney had his say on where he wanted Mickey to appear. But he's here now, discovered by a guest screaming that there's a mouse loose at the party. And years after Koko the Clown popped out of the inkwell and before MC Skat Kat stole Paula Abdul's covers, party host Durante holds Mickey by his tail (not the first time Disney integrated Mickey into live action). Once everyone learns it's Mickey they demand a song, but he goes one step further, giving them a (kind of depressing) five and a half minute cartoon (in color...the rest of the film is in black and white) called HOT CHOC-LATE SOLDIERS.




It's no surprise that much of PARTY's comedy comes from prefabricated acts who hit us with their schtick and run. Laurel and Hardy (who got billing over Durante) do their slowburn tit-for-tat slapstick with third party Mexican Spitfire Lupe Velez. Velez was married to real Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller (his second Tarzan film came out a few months after PARTY), so I imagine this storyline was an in-joke. The Three Stooges (who got no billing at all) are autograph hounds, hitting each other (and getting hit by strangers) while waiting outside the party, sadly, for only two minutes. But standing out among all these vaudevillians is Charles Butterworth as Texas oil bazillionaire Harvey Klemp. His lines and delivery were the funniest stuff at this PARTY. Another big laugh for me was when Velez, who played the Jungle girl to Schnarzan, made fun of Durante by imitating his "Ha cha!" (later, Mickey does this as well, even funnier, as he fashions his nose to match Durante's). You get to see some Lupe Velez side-boob in this movie, and unfortunately, enough Jimmy Durante side-ass to put you off your Pop Tarts for weeks. Shit, it's probably the reason the Hays Code began enforcing its rules that same year.

Believe it or not (I didn't at first), HOLLYWOOD PARTY was photographed by the great James Wong Howe, who, starting in silents, shot a hundred some-odd movies like SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, YANKEE DOODLE DANDY and three RMC movies, BEHAVE YOURSELF!, THE MOLLY MAGUIRES and SECONDS (some of his best stuff there).

Like I said earlier, HOLLYWOOD PARTY is sloppy. It's said that there's tons of unused footage, yet they still couldn't cobble 63 good minutes together. And although this outing had a story, it was silly and forced. For example, the song REINCARNATION comes out of nowhere and has nothing at all to do with the movie. It's just square-pegged in with a hammer. The movie was such a mess that to explain it away (SPOILER... BUT COME ON, DO YOU REALLY CARE?) they ended up inventing the idea of it being a dream, with Durante waking up at the end (his real life wife wakes him up...take
that, Newhart!). But as dusty as the sub-genre is, and despite its unevenness and its forced bits, I still enjoyed it. I mean, this party had the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy and Mickey Mouse. The first Hollywood party I ever went to had Sandra Bernhard leaning against a wall by herself.

Feed Burner Subscribe in a reader

Powered byFeedBlitz

About ...

RMC email address
Old RMC Men

RMC is not affiliated with Rochester Midland Corporation, makers of fine restroom disinfecting fluids and urinal mats since 1888.


Powered by Pizza, Red Vines,
& 6 Different Kinds of Soda



This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Random Movie Club. Make your own badge here.

((( Contribute to our Popcorn Fund! )))

Best Viewed With Firefox 2

Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to Technorati Favorites!

eXTReMe Tracker