Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Basically a filmed vaudeville presentation, The Show of Shows was Warner Bros.' entry in the "all star, all talking, all singing and all dancing" sweepstakes of 1929. Though slightly better than MGM's Hollywood Revue of 1929, the Warners entry pales in comparison to Fox Movietone Follies of 1929 and Paramount on Parade, due mainly to the film's master of ceremonies, the insufferable Frank Fay. Some of the individual acts seen in Show of Shows were pretty good, notably Winnie Lightner's delightful Singing in the Bathtub (a spoof of Hollywood Revue of 1929's Singin' in the Rain) and John Barrymore's brilliant rendition of Richard III's soliloquy from Shakespeare's Henry VI. Also easy to take was "Floradora Sextette," featuring such luminaries as Myrna Loy, Patsy Ruth Miller and cross-eyed comedian Ben Turpin, and "Eight Sister Acts," including such Hollywood siblings as Dolores and Helene Costello, Sally Blane and Loretta Young and Shirley Mason and Viola Dana (also teamed in this number are Ann Sothern and Marion Byron, who were not sisters). But for the most part, the acts are on a par with "Skull and Crossbones," a boring production number showcasing entertainer Ted Lewis, and "Recitations," a one-joke affair in which three different anecdotes (related by Frank Fay, Louis Fazenda, Lloyd Hamilton and Bea Lillie) are melded into one. Show of Shows was originally released in two-color Technicolor but now exists only in black in white, save for the "Chinese Fantasy" number featuring crooner Nick Lucas and Warner Bros. contractee Myrna Loy.