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Hollywood Hotel

A 1937 Busby Berkeley film

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Possibly Busby Berkeley's Worst Film, But I liked It Anyway

  • Aug 5, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+3

What's the film about?

Typical featherweight 30s comedy story with sax player Dick Powell told to date the hottest star on the lot of All-Star Pictures for publicity reasons and then falling in love with her stunt double.  They story doesn't matter a hoot.
 

Who was the classic actor/actress?  

Dick Powell is the only star who stood the test of time.  But the film is loaded with 30s character actor stalwarts for fans of the genre like me - Edgar Kennedy, Glenda Farrell, Hugh Herbert  (who is embarrassingly bad in this one) and Louella Parsons playing herself.  Star attraction is the Benny Goodman Band -- when they were as hot as the Beatles in 1964.
 

Why did you choose this film?

I rented it because it was a Busby Berkeley I hadn't seen and it featured the Benny Goodman Band - who came through, hot as the weather outside as I write this.  For the rest, pacing was dead in the water, the dialogue needed scissors, Berkeley had no idea how to direct comedy and there were no signature Busby fantasy sequences. But at least  I learned how important Dick Powell was to the machinery of 30s musical comedy.  He really does hold it all together, even without Ruby Keeler or Joan Blondell on his back.

 

What's the bottom line?

Depending on the moment, I would give this four stars, three stars,  or two stars,.  I really can't judge.  I am under the spell of old Hollywood, I admit it.  Something in me loved the film from start to finish.  If you're under the spell, you'll at least like it.

Oh, one interesting bit of cultural trivia - check out the sequence where Powell is a carhop at a Hollywood Drive-in restaurant.  Who knew they existed in 1937?  Not me.

 

Possibly Busby Berkeley's Worst Film, But I liked It Anyway Possibly Busby Berkeley's Worst Film, But I liked It Anyway

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More Hollywood Hotel reviews
review by . August 05, 2011
Dick Powell is just fine, the movie isn't, and
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 white 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 …
About the reviewer
Christopher Newton ()
Ranked #683
Native San Franciscan living in Spokane, about halfway through my first novel, set in the 1965 pre-Summer of Love Haight-Ashbury with excursions into Swinging London, 1923 New York, and WWII in the Cotswold … more
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