15 February 2002 | lugonian
The Paramount Revue of 1930
"Paramount on Parade" (Paramount, 1930), with various directorial credit including Ernst Lubitsch, A. Edward Sutherland and Victor Schertzinger, among others, became Paramount's attempt in an all-star movie revue, following the earlier attempts of MGM's "The Hollywood Revue of 1929" and "The Show of Shows" for Warner Brothers, and while many claim this to be the best of the revues, I find it to be a disappointment mainly because the print that's been circulating on television over the last couple of decades, and later cable television, not being the entire movie. Even though I wasn't around when the 102 minute presentation of "Paramount on Parade" was released in theaters, the cuts are quite obvious, especially when French entertainer Maurice Chevalier gives Italian singer Nino Martini a special introduction, and later on in the revue, director Edmund Goulding preparing his cast of actors who are to appear in a Civil War setting musical skit, "Let Us Drink to the Girl of My Dreams," with Gary Cooper, Fay Wray, among others, which never comes. At present, "Paramount on Parade" runs 78 minutes, minus Technicolor segments. Whether the missing scenes are lost forever, or a complete copy is displayed somewhere in a dark vault gathering dust, is anyone's guess. However, at present, it appears that possible restoration of this movie is unlikely to occur.
The "Paramount on Parade" program is as follows, with the deleted scenes preceded with asterisks (*): * SHOWGIRLS ON PARADE (with Virginia Bruce); * PARAMOUNT ON PARADE (chorus); "We're the Masters of Ceremonies" (sung by Jack Oakie, Richard "Skeets" Gallagher and Leon Errol); "Any Time's the Time to Fall in Love" (sung by Buddy Rogers and Lillian Roth); MURDER WILL OUT (a comedy sketch with William Powell as Philo Vance; Clive Brook as Sherlock Holmes; Warner Oland as Fu Manchu, with Eugene Palette and Jack Oakie; THE ORIGIN OF THE APACHE (with Maurice Chevalier and Evelyn Brent); IN A HOSPITAL (comedy sketch with Leon Errol, Jean Arthur, Phillips Holmes and David Newell); "I'm in Training for You" (sung by Zelma O'Neal and Jack Oakie); * THE TOREADOR (with Harry Green singing "I'm Isador the Toreador" from Bizet's CARMEN, with Kay Francis); "My Marine" (sung by Ruth Chatterton, with Fredric March, Stanley Smith and Stuart Erwin as Marines); "All I Want is Just One Girl" (sung by Chevalier); MITZI GREEN HERSELF (with Mitzi Green reprising "All I Want Is Just One Girl" and doing imitations of Chevalier and Charles Mack of the comedy team of Moran and Mack, The Two Black Crows); "What Did Cleopatra Say?" (sung by Helen Kane); *THE GALLOWS SONG (sung by Dennis King); "Dancing to Save My Sole" (sung and danced by Nancy Carroll and Al Norman, the eccentric rubber-legs dancer); * DREAM GIRL, "Let Us Drink to the Girl of My Dreams" (with Richard Arlen, Jean Arthur, Gary Cooper, Mary Brian, Virginia Bruce, Fay Wray, and others); "I'm True to the Navy Now" (sung by Clara Bow and sailors); FOLLOWING YOUR IMPULSE: (Introduced by George Bancroft in a comedy sketch about social manners showing how people at a function normally act, then presenting them on how they really feel. Kay Francis partakes in this skit); and the finale, "Sweeping the Clouds Away" (sung by Maurice Chevalier).
As with the previous Hollywood revues, portions of the film succeed musically and comically, while others don't. Highlights include Zelma O'Neal's energetic singing and opposite Jack Oakie in the gymnasium; Nancy Carroll's dance number on top of a giant shoe; Maurice Chevalier's finale; and of course Clara Bow, who brings this revue to life as the sole female vocalist amongst a group of sailors. Her singing voice does record well, but her career in talkies came to an end by 1933. The lesser moments are the comedy skits, including Leon Errol in the hospital bed with his good-for-nothing sons ignoring his requests and telling their dad to "Shut up"; Mitzi Green's dated impersonations of Moran and Mack; and the singing of "My Marine" by Ruth Chatterton, who performs better as dramatic actress than as a singer, making this eight minute segment seems longer than it is. Helen Kane's "Boop, Boopa Doop" number in the classroom starts off well, but grows tiresome only after a few minutes.
American Movie Classics formerly presented the edited version of "Paramount on Parade" back in 1988-89, and since then, is hardly shown at all these days. However, if this revue should ever resurrect again, whether on video or on Turner Classic Movies, let's hope for a restored complete version. Maybe the 102 minute edition might not make much of a difference entertainment wise, but it certainly will be a rare treat indeed. As it now stands ... (***)