Cast & Crew
Inspired by the crooning of radio star Bill Williams, Sylvia Bruce announces to the principal of the Briarcroft School, where she lives and works as a French teacher, that she is going to follow her dreams and quit her job. After abandoning the repressive school, Sylvia tracks Bill to his New York hotel room and confesses to him that his singing changed her life. Bill, who is about to leave the city for Hollywood, slips away from the star-struck Sylvia and heads for Grand Central Station. There, Bill is besieged by reporters, who are anxious to hear about his new movie venture and his romance with French actress and co-star Lili Yvonne. After Bill, Lili, Bert Conroy, the droll director of the film, and Ernest P. Baker, the film's idealistic backer, depart on the westbound train, Sylvia appears on board. Trapping Bill in his rooms, Sylvia confesses her love but is gently rejected by the singer. Determined to stay on board, Sylvia gets a job as Lili's maid, unaware of the actress's relationship with Bill. When Sylvia discovers Bill and Lili embracing, she insults her tempermental employer and is both slapped and fired by her. Once in Hollywood, Sylvia searches for Bill at Ernest's Independent Art Studios and is befriended by Jill Barker, a wisecracking, out-of-work actress. Jill invites Sylvia to room with her and consoles her about Bill. The next day, Sylvia disguises herself in blackface and approaches Bill on the movie set. Although touched by Sylvia's devotion to him, Bill again dismisses her, after which Lili demands that her rival be thrown out of the studio. Aware that Ernest is infatuated with her, Sylvia appeals to him for help, and he generously offers both Sylvia and Jill work on the film. While rehearsing on location, Lili performs badly and is sharply criticized by Conroy. Infuriated, Lili announces that she is quitting and storms away to her dressing room, where Bill is sent to reprimand her. Instead, Bill gives in to Lili's feminine manipulations and forgives her. However, when Lili overhears Sylvia imitating her over the movie sound system, she again denounces and slaps her, and receives a punch in the eye from Sylvia in return. Ernest then declares that Sylvia will replace the puffy-eyed Lili in the film, and the former teacher soon proves to be an overnight sensation. Sylvia's success brings Bill and she together, and after a romantic evening, the two performers pledge their love. When Sylvia makes an unexpected call at Bill's hotel, however, she overhears him singing in Lili's room and angrily snubs him the next day. Hurt by Sylvia's rejection, Bill begins to drink and deserts the film to carouse with Lili in Mexico. Sylvia eventually tracks him to a bar and offers him a chance to return to Hollywood with her. Still under Lili's spell, Bill fails to make the airplane, and Ernest is forced to hire his replacement. As they are filming the picture's big number, however, a sober Bill appears on the set and reunites with an ecstatic Sylvia.
Three Radio Rogues
Nacio Herb Brown
Donald Ogden Stewart
Edwin B. Willis
In the beginning of Going Hollywood, reality is a stark teachers' meeting in a practically bare room. Upstairs Davies is dancing her heart out in her stylish bedroom. In this room, with satin pillowcases, candelabras on the walls and French doors leading out to a balcony, Miss Bruce's dream is accompanied by a tune on the radio.
Hearing Bill Williams' (Bing Crosby) voice, Miss Bruce immediately falls in love with him and follows him to California. This star-struck crush is remarkably similar in spirit to Davies' own romance with publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Upon seeing Davies perform for the first time, Hearst reserved two seats (one for himself, the other for his hat) for each of her shows over the next eight weeks. Hearst would eventually become producer, lover and the most famous personal fan of Davies. As with most of Marion's productions, Hearst was in regular attendance on the set of Going Hollywood, which made Bing Crosby quite nervous during romantic scenes.
Crosby's voice, however, never falters. He is at his absolute best in numbers like "Beautiful Girl" and the title number, which is set in Grand Central Station. In a memorable Oz meets Oklahoma dream sequence, Davies and Crosby parade through cellophane sunflowers to "We'll Make Hay While the Sun Shines." The finale is also a showstopper, with a deco backdrop that becomes a towering orchestra pit and Davies and Crosby's reunion to "Our Big Love Scene."
In the movie, Miss Bruce gets her man and becomes a star. In real life, Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst remained together until his death in 1951, but they never married. And her career never reached the pinnacle Hearst hoped it would. Davies made just five more films after Going Hollywood.
Director: Raoul Walsh
Producer: Walter Wanger
Screenplay: Donald Ogden Stewart (based on a story by Frances Marion)
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Editing: Frank Sullivan
Music: Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed
Art Direction: Merrill Pye
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis
Costume Design: Adrian
Cast: Marion Davies (Sylvia Bruce), Bing Crosby (Bill Williams), Fifi D'Orsay (Lili Yvonne), Stuart Erwin (Ernest P. Baker), Ned Sparks (Conroy), Patsy Kelly (Jill).
BW-78m. Closed Captioning.
by Stephanie Thames
Marion Davies requested Bing Crosby as her co-star, but William Randolph Hearst, the financial backer of Cosmopolitan Productions, refused because he did not like Crosby's singing style. Composer Arthur Freed, however, convinced Hearst that Crosby would be good for Davies' sagging career. Davies also requested Fifi D'Orsay be cast as "Lili", and Hearst agreed despite his wish to cast Lili Damita in that role.
The working title of this film was listed in Hollywood Reporter as both Paid to Love and Paid to Laugh. According to an August 1933 Hollywood Reporter news item, C. Gardner Sullivan was hired to co-write the script with credited writer Donald Ogden Stewart. Sullivan's contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. Although not credited on film, Frances Marion is listed in some reviews and news items as the writer of the screen story. The song "Beautiful Girl" was first performed in M-G-M's 1933 picture Stage Mother. M-G-M borrowed Bing Crosby from Paramount for the production. One modern source claims that Crosby earned $50,000 for his work in the film, while another states that the performer received $2,000 per week, a deal negotiated by Crosby's brother Everett. Patsy Kelly made her feature film debut in this picture. A Film Daily news item includes Henry Armetta in the cast, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed.
Modern sources provide the following information about the production: Because her own popularity was sagging, Marion Davies requested the very successful Crosby as her co-star. William Randolph Hearst, the financial backer of M-G-M's Cosmopolitan Productions, however, disliked Crosby's singing style and refused to cast him. Eventually songwriter Arthur Freed interceded on Crosby's behalf and convinced Hearst that the singer would make an appropriate "boy-next-door" co-star for Davies. Hearst also wanted French actress Lili Damita to play the part of "Lili," but bowed to Davies' wish that D'Orsay, whose career was faltering, be cast. Because of Davies' casual attitudes about production schedules, the film took forty-seven days to complete. The cost of production was $914,000; the total revenues were $962,000. (Modern sources claim that, in spite of these numbers, Hearst actually made a healthy profit from the picture.) Leo Lynn, a old school friend of Crosby's, was hired by both the actor and M-G-M as Crosby's stand-in. Modern sources also list the film's footage as 7,298 feet.