Hollywood Hotel is a 1937 American romantic musical comedy film, directed by Busby Berkeley, starring Dick Powell, Rosemary Lane, Lola Lane, Hugh Herbert, Ted Healy, Glenda Farrell and Johnnie Davis, featuring Alan Mowbray and Alan Todd, and with Allyn Joslyn, Grant Mitchell and Edgar Kennedy.
The film was based on the popular Hollywood Hotel radio show created by gossip columnist Louella Parsons, where Hollywood stars recreated scenes from their latest movies. It was broadcast weekly from the hotel of that name, The film's recreation of the program features Louella Parsons, Frances Langford, Raymond Paige and His Orchestra, Jerry Cooper, the announcer Ken Niles, Duane Thompson and Benny Goodman and His Orchestra.
Hollywood Hotel, the film, is now best remembered for the featured song and opening number "Hooray for Hollywood" by Johnny Mercer and Richard A. Whiting, sung in the film by Davis and Langford, accompanied by Goodman and his orchestra. The song has become a standard part of the soundtrack to movie award ceremonies, including the Academy Awards. Mercer's lyrics contain numerous references, often satirical, to the movie industry and the path to film stardom.
Saxophone player and singer Ronnie Bowers (Dick Powell), is on his way to Hollywood, having been signed to a ten-week contract by All Star Pictures. At the airport, his former employer, Benny Goodman, and his band give him a big sendoff, performing "Hooray for Hollywood".
In Hollywood, temperamental star Mona Marshall (Lola Lane) becomes furious when she learns that another actress has landed a part she desperately wanted. As a result, she refuses to attend the premiere of her latest movie. Publicist Bernie Walton (Allyn Joslyn) convinces studio boss B. L. Faulkin (Grant Mitchell) to substitute a double. Bernie chooses Virginia Stanton (Rosemary Lane), who has already worked as a stand-in for Mona. For her escort, Bernie chooses an unsuspecting (and starstruck) Ronnie.
The charade works. Everyone, from Ronnie to Louella Parsons to the radio host at the premiere (Ronald Reagan) is fooled. Things take an unexpected turn when Ronnie and Virginia begin to fall in love, wading in a fountain pond and singing "I'm Like a Fish Out of Water".
The next day, Bernie takes Ronnie to lunch at the restaurant where Virginia is working as a waitress, to break the news of his date's real identity. Ronnie and Virginia begin dating.
When Mona reads in the newspaper that "she" was at the premiere with Ronnie, she forces Faulkin to buy the young man out of his contract. Photographer Fuzzy Boyle (Ted Healy) appoints himself Ronnie's agent, and they make the rounds, trying to get his acting career started, without success. The two end up employed at a drive-in. When Ronnie sings during work, director Walter Kelton (William Davidson) is impressed and offers him a job. Ronnie is disappointed to learn, however, that he will not be acting, only. Kelton dubbing the singing for Mona's longtime screen partner, Alex Dupre (Alan Mowbray).
Dupre's "singing" impresses the audience at the preview. When Louella Parsons invites him to perform on her radio program, he accepts without thinking. Desperate, All Star Pictures pays Ronnie an exorbitant fee to sing for the actor. However, Ronnie has his own ideas. Virginia (posing as Mona) picks up Dupre in a limousine driven by Fuzzy. The pair drive him out into the countryside so he misses the program. Ronnie substitutes for Dupre and is a hit, so Faulkin decides to re-sign him, at a larger salary.
Cast notes:Louella Parsons, a noted gossip columnist of the time, created the concept of Hollywood Hotel for the radio, and appears in the film as herself. It was her screen debut.
The Benny Goodman Orchestra at this time included drummer Gene Krupa, Harry James on trumpet, pianist Teddy Wilson and vibraphonist Lionel Hampton. The strong reaction of the band's fans to its appearance in the film helped to convince Goodman to do the Carnegie Hall concert that had been suggested by his publicist, Wynn Nathanson. Goodman had been concerned that it would be perceived as a publicity stunt.
Ted Healy is perhaps best known for creating the vaudeville act which later evolved into The Three Stooges. Hollywood Hotel was released in January 1938, less than a month after Healy's death, the cause of which is still a matter of debate today.
Lola Lane, who plays Mona Marshall, and Rosemary Lane, who plays Marshall's stand-in, were sisters. Another sister, Priscilla Lane, was an even more successful film actress.
Ronald Reagan makes his second film appearance in Hollywood Hotel, uncredited, as the radio host at a film premiere.
Both Carole Landis, as a hatcheck girl, and Susan Hayward, as a starlet, appear in the film uncredited. It was Hayward's film debut.
Warner Bros. originally wanted Bette Davis to play both Mona Marshall and her stand-in, but Davis managed to convince them that it was not a good idea.
The studio was sued by both the Campbell Soup Company, who sponsored the Hollywood Hotel radio program, and by the hotel itself, for using the name without authorization. The Hollywood Hotel in its heyday had attracted the royalty of Hollywood, such as Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, but it had fallen in prominence by the time this film was made. Some exteriors of the hotel appear in the films. The hotel no longer exists, in its place is the Dolby Theatre, from where the Academy Awards presentations have originated since 2001.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:2004: AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
"Hooray for Hollywood" – Nominated
2006: AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals – Nominated