The Show of Shows

For the TV show (1950–54), see Your Show of Shows.
The Show of Shows

theatrical release poster
Directed by John G. Adolfi
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Written by Special material:
Frank Fay
J. Keirn Brennan
Music by Edward Ward
Cinematography Barney McGill
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • November 28, 1929 (1929-11-28) (US)
  • [1] ([1])
Running time
128 minutes
107 minutes (Technicolor)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $850,000

The Show of Shows is a 1929 American Pre-Code musical revue film directed by John G. Adolfi and distributed by Warner Bros. The all talking Vitaphone production cost $850,000 and was shot almost entirely in Technicolor. The Show of Shows was Warner Bros.' fifth color movie; the first four were The Desert Song (1929), On with the Show (1929), Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929) and Paris (1929). (Song of the West was actually completed by June 1929 but had its release delayed until March 1930). The Show of Shows featured most of the contemporary Warner Bros. film stars, including John Barrymore, Richard Barthelmess, Noah Beery, Sr., Loretta Young, Dolores Costello, Bull Montana, Myrna Loy, Chester Conklin, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Tully Marshall and Betty Compson


The film was styled in the same format as the earlier Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film The Hollywood Revue of 1929. The high budget of the film meant that although it performed well at the box office, it did not return as much profit as The Hollywood Revue of 1929. The Show of Shows was originally meant to be and advertised as being an all-color talking movie; however, twenty-one minutes was in black and white17 minutes of the first part and the first four minutes of part two.

The film features nearly all the stars then working under contract at Warner Bros. Virtually all the performers shown would vanish from the studio by 1931, after tastes had shifted owing to the effects of the Great Depression, which began to be felt late in 1930.

The Show of Shows features many of the performers who were popular in silent movies mixed in with hand-picked stage stars and novelty acts. The emcee of the film was Frank Fay, who performed in the style of barbed sarcasm. In an era of almost naive optimism, he stands out as a witty devil's advocate.




Performer Segment
Frank Fay Master of ceremonies
Harry Akst Onscreen pianist
Armida Vendrell "Meet My Sister" and "Lady Luck" finale
Johnny Arthur "Motion Picture Pirates"
Mary Astor "Motion Picture Pirates"
William Bakewell "Bicycle Built for Two"
John Barrymore "Henry VI Part III"
Richard Barthelmess Introduces "Meet My Sister"
Noah Beery "Motion Picture Pirates", "Mexican Moonshine"
Sally Blane "Meet My Sister"
Monte Blue "Mexican Moonshine"
Irène Bordoni Singing "One Hour of Love"
Hobart Bosworth Prologue (executioner)
Jack Buchanan
Harriet Byron "Meet My Sister", "Bicycle Built for Two"
Marion Byron "Meet My Sister"
Georges Carpentier "If I Could Learn To Love"
Ethlyne Clair "Motion Picture Pirates"
Betty Compson "Lady Luck" (Finale)
Chester Conklin "Bicycle Built for Two"
Dolores Costello "Meet My Sister"
Helene Costello "Meet My Sister"
William Courtenay "Bicycle Built for Two"
Viola Dana "Meet My Sister", "Motion Picture Pirates"
Alice Day "What's Become of the Florodora Boys", "Meet My Sister"
Marceline Day "Meet My Sister"
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. "Bicycle Built for Two"
Louise Fazenda "Recitations"
Albert Gran "Singin' in the Bathtub"
Alexander Gray "Lady Luck" (Finale)
Lloyd Hamilton "Florodora", "Recitations", "Mexican Moonshine"
Lupino Lane "What's Become of the Florodora Boys"
Lila Lee "What's Become of the Florodora Boys"
Ted Lewis and his Orchestra
Winnie Lightner "Pingo Pongo", "Singin' in the Bathtub"
Jacqueline Logan "Motion Picture Pirates"
Lola "Meet My Sister", "Lady Luck" (Finale)
Myrna Loy "Florodora Boys", "Believe Me" and "Chinese Fantasy"
Nick Lucas "The Only Song I Know", "Chinese Fantasy" and "Lady Luck" (Finale)
Tully Marshall "Motion Picture Pirates", "Mexican Moonshine"
Shirley Mason "Meet My Sister"
Patsy Ruth Miller "What's Become of the Florodora Boys", "If I Could Learn to Love"
Bull Montana "Singin' in the Bathtub"
Lee Moran "Singin' in the Bathtub"
Chester Morris "$20 Bet", "Bicycle Built for Two"
Jack Mulhall "$20 Bet"
Edna Murphy "Motion Picture Pirates"
Carmel Myers "Motion Picture Pirates"
Marian Nixon "What's Become of the Florodora Boys"
Molly O'Day "Meet My Sister"
Sally O'Neil "What's Become of the Florodora Boys", "Meet My Sister"
Gertrude Olmstead "Motion Picture Pirates"
Kalla Pasha "Motion Picture Pirates"
Anders Randolf "Motion Picture Pirates"
Rin Tin Tin Introduces "An Oriental Fantasy"
Bert Roach "What's Become of the Florodora Boys"
Sid Silvers Introduces "Black and White Girls"
Sōjin Kamiyama "$20 Bet"
Ben Turpin "What's Become of the Florodora Boys"
Eddie Ward
H.B. Warner Prologue
Alice White "If I Could Learn To Love"
Lois Wilson "Bicycle Built for Two"
Grant Withers "Bicycle Built for Two"
Loretta Young "Meet My Sister"


Preservation status

The Show of Shows[2] still survives in a black-and-white 1958 print from an Associated Artists Productions. "Jack Buchanan with the Glee Quartet" is a single reel of a number that were shot but not included in the final cut, being later used for a standalone release as a b/w short. The only color that now exists comprises the complete "Chinese Fantasy" reel introduced by Rin Tin Tin and starring Myrna Loy and Nick Lucas. A second complete reel of the color sequence of the "Meet My Sister" number has been found in 2014 and was recently screened at the "Museum Of Modern Art" in NYC. Color fragments also exist of 1) "Motion Picture Pirates", 2) the Barrymore soliloquy, 3) the finale, and 4) the curtain of stars.

The Library of Congress maintains a copy (since the 1970s) of the black/white version.[3]

See also


  1. 1 2 The Show of Shows at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. 1957 MOVIES FROM AAP Warner Bros Features & Cartoons SALES BOOK DIRECTED AT TV
  3. Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress, (<-book title) p.165 c.1978 the American Film Institute
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