Going Hollywood (1933): Raoul Walsh’s Fluffy Musical, Starring Bing Crosby

The versatile filmmaker Raoul Walsh made Going Hollywood, a fluffy Pre-Code musical, starring Marion Davies (who got top billing) and Bing Crosby, who singles beautifully most of the tunes.

Donald Ogden Stewart (who was later blacklisted) adapted to the screen the story by Frances Marion, which was overwhelmingly familiar from other, better musicals of the Depression era.

Davies plays school-teacher Sylvia Bruce who, out of love for showbiz, follows to Hollywood Bill “Bruce” Williams (Crosby) the popular crooner.  On the train she works as maid to Bill’s French fiancee and leading lady, Lili Yvonne (Fifi D’Orsay), and through them she meets the director Conroy, and promoter Baker.

In Hollywood, Lili’s hot temperament and lack of talent concerns Conroy, especially after she is rude to a woman asking for autograph.  However, production continues and she sings poorly ‘Cinderella’s Fella.’ Sylvia impersonates Lili’s version and imitates Lili’s tantrums. A brawl follows, and Baker fires Lili and casts Sylvia in the part.

Bill deserts the film and goes with Lili to Tijuana where he is threatened yo be replaced. Sylvia finds him and pleads for him to come back to the Studio.  Eventually Bill appears at the Studio to rejoin Sylvia in the closing sequence, ‘Our Big Love Scene.’

Before departure for Hollywood, the popular song ‘Beautiful Girl’ is nicely rendered by Crosby, then young, handsome singer with a beautiful voice, but not yet a bona fide movie star.  At the Grand Central Terminal there is a big production number where he sings ‘Going Hollywood.’

He also sings ‘Just an Echo in the Valley’ and ‘Our Big Love Scene’ on the radio. ‘While the Sun Shines’ is a dream-sequence production number, featuring Crosby, Marion Davies, chorus and dancers. An act by The Radio Rogues includes imitations of Kate Smith (‘When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain’), Russ Columbo (‘You Call It Madness But I Call It Love’), Morton Downey (‘Remember Me?’) and Rudy Vallee (‘My Dime Is Your Dime’). Crosby sings ‘After Sundown’ at the party and ‘Temptation’ in a Tijuana bar.

Released on December 22, 1933, Going Hollywood was not commercially successful, barely recouping its budget of $1 million.

One problem was the lack of integration of the songs into the shallow plot.  Another was the set of clichés, among them a speech to Crosby, told that “Hollywood is all artificial, and you are a fake, you belong here.”

Crosby later recorded with great success the tunes, “Temptation,” “We’ll Make Hay While the Sun Shines,” and “Beautiful Girl,” which became a staple of his repertoire.

Running time: 78 Minutes.