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THE SHOW OF SHOWS, LAUGH, CLOWN, LAUGH: Loretta Young Movies

Loretta Young Movies Lon Chaney Laugh Clown LaughLoretta Young movies: Taxi!, Life Begins, The Show of Shows

[See previous article: "Loretta Young Movies on TCM."] Taxi! goes by so fast you can’t quite tell whether or not the ride was worthwhile, whereas Life Begins seems to last several lifetimes. Both, however, are highly recommended as distinct examples of early ’30s filmmaking: one is rough and hard-hitting; the other — set in a maternity ward — is unabashedly sentimental. Another Life Begins "plus": a cast that includes the handsome Eric Linden, and flawless supporting players Aline MacMahon and Glenda Farrell. (Photo: Loretta Young, Lon Chaney Laugh, Clown, Laugh.)

Surely, most audiences today would label the two-hour-plus The Show of Shows as The Chore of Chores. A typical early talkie extravaganza, The Show of Shows amounts to a series of vaudeville vignettes featuring just about every Warner Bros. performer under contract in 1929. But in spite of its excessive running time and several insufferable sequences, I much prefer The Show of Shows to MGM’s more famous The Hollywood Revue of 1929 and Paramount’s Paramount on Parade. In my view, The Hollywood Revue’s epoch-making "Singin’ in the Rain" notwithstanding, The Show of Shows features more tuneful songs and more entertaining musical numbers than its competitors.

One such number is "Meet My Sister," in which Loretta Young is featured opposite one of her real-life sisters, Sally Blane. Other dueting siblings are Dolores Costello (Drew Barrymore’s grandmother) and Helene Costello (the leading lady in the first all-talkie feature, Lights of New York); Shirley Mason and former top Metro Pictures star Viola Dana; former MGM leading lady Marceline Day and Alice Day; pert Sally O’Neil and Molly O’Day; and newcomer Ann Sothern — cheating as Harriet Byron, the "sister" of Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. leading lady Marion Byron. (Coincidentally, Ann Sothern — born Harriet Lake — did have a sister named Marion.)

Of interest: The Show of Shows’ prissy-acting host was at the time Barbara Stanwyck’s non-prissy, abusive husband. The couple were divorced in December 1935.

Loretta Young TCM movie schedule

Tonight’s Loretta Young movie schedule (ET) from the Turner Classic Movies website:

  • 8:00 PM LAUGH, CLOWN, LAUGH (1928). Director: Herbert Brenon. Cast: Lon Chaney, Loretta Young, Nils Asther. BW-74 mins.
  • 9:30 PM PLATINUM BLONDE (1931). Director: Frank Capra. Cast: Loretta Young, Robert Williams, Jean Harlow. BW-89 mins.
  • 11:15 PM TAXI! (1932). Director: Roy Del Ruth. Cast: James Cagney, Loretta Young, George E. Stone. BW-69 mins.
  • 12:30 AM LIFE BEGINS (1932). Director: James Flood. Cast: Loretta Young, Eric Linden, Aline MacMahon, Glenda Farrell, Preston Foster. BW-71 mins.
  • 1:45 AM THE SQUALL (1929). Director: Alexander Korda. Cast: Loretta Young, Richard Tucker, Alice Joyce, Myrna Loy, Zasu Pitts. BW-102 mins.
  • 3:45 AM THE SHOW OF SHOWS (1929). Director: John G. Adolfi. Cast: Frank Fay, Loretta Young, Richard Barthelmess, Myrna Loy, John Barrymore, Dolores Costello, H.B. Warner, Mary Astor, Betty Compson, Sally Blane, Ann Sothern, Viola Dana, Marceline Day, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Jacqueline Logan, Jack Mulhall, Rin Tin Tin, Sally O’Neil, Shirley Mason, Carmel Myers, Grant Withers, Alberta Vaughn, Lois Wilson, Alice Day, Nick Lucas, Bull Montana, Helene Costello, Marion Byron, Ben Turpin, Alice White. C-124 mins.
  • 6:00 AM LOOSE ANKLES (1930). Director: Ted Wilde. Cast: Loretta Young, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Louise Fazenda, Eddie Nugent, Inez Courtney, Otis Harlan. BW-67 mins.
  • 7:15 AM I LIKE YOUR NERVE (1931). Director: William McGann. Cast: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Loretta Young, Henry Kolker, Boris Karloff. BW-62 mins.
  • 8:30 AM ROAD TO PARADISE (1930). Director: William Beaudine. Cast: Loretta Young, Jack Mulhall, Raymond Hatton, Kathlyn Williams, George Barraud. BW-75 mins.
  • 10:00 AM THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUTH (1930). Director: William Seiter. Cast: Loretta Young, David Manners, Conway Tearle, Myrna Loy, J. Farrell MacDonald, Myrtle Stedman. BW-67 mins.

Loretta Young photos via Doctor Macro.

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