Every major studio did an all-talking revue in the years 1929 and 1930. However, MGM was the first with their "Hollywood Revue of 1929". The purpose of this film was to prove that the studio had the talent to succeed in talking pictures with their stable of stars. Since MGM marketed their stars as their chief assets more than any other studio, this revue came off the best, and it made lots of money at the box office, prompting a stampede by the other studios to produce similar films.
This film has no plot. It is simply a variety show put on by the MGM stars of 1929. You'll see many that you recognize, such as emcee Jack Benny, and some that you've probably never heard of unless you're a fan of 20's and early 30's films, such as Charles King and Karl Dane. Many interesting things go on such as Ann Dvorak slapping Jack Benny, William Haines eating Jack Benny's suit, Laurel and Hardy in a magic act, Joan Crawford being introduced for a dance number as the "personification of youth and beauty and joy and happiness", and Buster Keaton dressed in drag and doing an exotic dance. However, the middle section sags dreadfully and gives us some hint of what killed vaudeville with an adagio troupe act that seems to go on forever. Lon Chaney has a number dedicated to him, but he does not appear. Cliff Edwards and the Brox Sisters perform "Singin in the Rain" and then the whole cast assembles at the end of the film to reprise the song with Noah's Ark behind them - a probable dig at Jack Warner by Louis B. for the Warner film by the same name. The camera pans over each star slowly, emphasizing what is important to this studio at this time - its star power.
I've rated this film 5/5, but you must remember that I find this film impossible to rate in a general sense. As entertainment for the average 21st century moviegoer it fails miserably, but as a snapshot of the MGM lot and the hopes and dreams of their stars entering the talkie era it is priceless. As an early talkie fan or film history buff this film is worth five stars.
The video and audio are pretty good and well preserved, though no restoration has been done for this particular release. Additionally, the original Technicolor sequences are intact and included. Also note that this DVD-R product is available directly from Warner Brothers for under twenty dollars.