29 August 2009 | Michael_Elliott
Film Buffs Only
On With the Show! (1929)
* 1/2 (out of 4)
This early sound film from Warner was actually the first full sound musical to be show in color but sadly the color version (2-strip Technicolor) is now lost. What remains is the B&W version, although recently one-minute worth of color footage was found. This film is clearly Warner's reply to MGM's THE Broadway MELODY as we get all the backstage drama of a show currently going on. We'll see a musical act or comic team and then we see what's going on backstage. This routine carries from start to finish as we get involved with various stories ranging from a boy needing to send money to his sick mother to an actor trying to steal scenes from another. Fans of history in terms of movies will probably want to check this out but all others should stay clear as it hasn't aged too well (and I'm not sure it would have been considered good in 1929). The movie is very dated in terms of production and being an early talkie we also have to put up with some pretty bad audio. I'm not sure if the color version would have helped things but I'm going to guess it would have at least given us some pretty things to look at. I've never been a fan of Crosland's and that includes his most popular film THE JAZZ SINGER. His direction here is a lot more upbeat as he at least keeps the camera moving and doesn't just settle on one set up and shot. Betty Compson is good in her role and a somewhat laid back Joe E. Brown is as well. The majority of the acting is pretty bad here but the dance and music numbers usually make up for it. It's also worth noting that the black actors in the film are played by blacks and not just whites in blackface. Another thing that does keep the film moving are some nice pre-code images from backstage with the women undressing and walking around in skimpy outfits. With that said, there's not enough here to warrant a 102-minute running time and by the half way part you'll be squirming in your chair making this a rather hard film to sit through.