For Reel

Going Hollywood (1933)
August 16, 2016, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Raoul Walsh
3.5 Stars
Going HollywoodIn the last reel of Going Hollywood, the issue of pitting truth against the fantasy of Hollywood comes to the forefront—the frustrated Sylvia Bruce (Marion Davies) chastises crooner Bill Williams (Bing Crosby) for representing everything fake about the lifestyle. That Bill is accused of being untrue is visually accentuated by director Raoul Walsh’s presentation of his drunken hallucinations, all in gauzy blurs and featuring one striking straight close-up of Fifi D’Orsay. It’s a terrific conceit, but it seems more than ridiculous given that the film has cast Davies in the lead role—she is all glamour and uncomfortable nervous energy, unable to look natural even in the act of listening. An early musical sequence finds Davies and Crosby frolicking on a farm as sunflowers dance and a moon made of tinsel looms in the background, and that Davies goes from this fantasy of artifice to the disenchanted realist is not convincingly sold by Davies in the slightest. Regardless, the film is a fascinating one if only due to Walsh’s direction, and supporting players like Ned Sparks, Stuart Erwin, and especially Patsy Kelly steal the show. Poor as Davies is, there are other frustrations (a poorly aged sequence involving a trio known as the Three Radio Rogues and a subplot involving Erwin’s crush on Davies come to mind) that keep this viewer from giving an enthusiastic recommendation, but fans of Walsh will appreciate it in moments.

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