Show of Shows (1929)

Genres - Musical  |   Release Date - Nov 28, 1929 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 128 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

Warner Bros.' Show of Shows, much like its MGM-spawned rival Hollywood Revue of 1929, holds up today mostly as an artifact to a by-gone age of entertainment -- in a time when audiences were transfixed by any kind of talking picture, it gets away with a lot without the benefit of much (if any) editing and a totally stationary camera; the beauty of the movie is that it not only preserves acts of the period, but includes itos own tributes to entertainments of the past, so that what we're seeing is a compendium of performers and pieces covering a good three decades. The movie hasn't been handed down to us in its optimal state -- though shot in two-color Technicolor, it has survived in black-and-white, apart from the "Chinese Fantasy" segement -- so it's hardly fair to judge, from this late date, 80 years past, the worth of all of the work and decisions made by its makers. But it's also easy to see what they did not have in mind, and on that count Show Of Shows is sorely lacking, as were most of the "revue"-type pictures of this era. Hollywood Revue of 1929 has been better preserved, and also features a better score and more ambitious staging, camera work, and a better overall cast of performers, and is probably a better place to start absorbing this film output.