Cast & Crew
Documentary featuring more than one dozen musical outtakes from classic 20th Century-Fox films.
Mark W Jacobs
Tony J Koch
Andrea L Paquette
Kara L Pross-gullo
Hidden Hollywood - From the Vaults of 20th-Century-Fox
First the highlights. Volume one of Hidden Hollywood includes two previously unseen musical numbers from Cafe Metropole (1937) featuring Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who was effectively removed from the final film altogether. Robinson's elegant appearance in the movie, impeccably dressed in top hat and tails and mingling with ease among the high society clientele of the titled location, concerned Fox executives who felt that Southern theatre owners and audiences at the time would not want to see a black actor in a role "elevated above his social station in life." And up to this time, Robinson's screen roles were generally limited to stereotyped black domestic parts, a terrible waste of talent for one of the greatest tap dancers of the 20th century. At least, he got to demonstrate some of his famous dance steps in the numerous musicals he made with child actress Shirley Temple - films like The Little Colonel (1935) and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938). On the Hidden Hollywood DVD you get a chance to see both of Robinson's deleted dance numbers from Cafe Metropole; the first one is a wonderful tap dancing solo which was representative of Robinson's live stage shows and the second number is an amusing 'Apache' dance parody with a white female partner in dark makeup. The other standouts on the disk include Alice Faye's rendition of "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," which was deleted from Rose of Washington Square (1939); Bert Lahr's over the top performance of "The Woof Song" from Love and Hisses (1937); the Rose Song Medley showcasing Betty Grable from Pin-Up Girl (1944); Ethel Merman and Dan Dailey dueting on "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" from There's No Business Like Show Business (1954).
If there's a downside to all of this, it's simply the fact that you have to be a big fan of Fox musicals to enjoy the majority of clips on display here. Sure, there are a few non-musical segments like a sexist comedy sequence with Hope Emerson and Walter Brennan cut from We're Not Married! (1952) or a rejected scene from Hot Spot, a film noir thriller that was re-shot as I Wake Up Screaming (1941), transforming Betty Grable's character from a record store clerk to a stenographer. But overall, Fox musicals get the priority treatment here. Another complaint is Joan Collins as narrator. In the Hollywood Screen Tests series, only a voice-over narrator (Robert Culp) was used. It was much less obtrusive than Collins' on-camera presence here, which can be annoying at times with her pat generalizations and blandly scripted commentary. There also had to be more compelling alternate scenes or deleted material to showcase besides a scene from Collins' uncompleted costume drama, Lord Vanity (1954) opposite Robert Wagner, or an unexceptional burlesque routine between Joseph Weber and Lew Fields, cut from Rose of Washington Square. Yes, the Hidden Hollywood DVDs are certainly a mixed bag and definitely of a more limited appeal than the Hollywood Screen Tests series. On a more positive note, the disks are outstanding in terms of visual quality boasting crisp black and white/color transfers from key Fox movies.
Highlights on Hidden Hollywood II include W.C. Fields, Phil Silvers and Margaret Dumont in the "long-lost" 13-minute comedy sequence from Tales of Manhattan (1942), "The Old Army Game" performed by Kay Francis, Mitzi Gaynor, Martha Raye and Carole Landis and later cut from Four Jills in a Jeep (1944), rare outtakes of Buster Keaton and Alice Faye rehearsing comedy gags for Hollywood Cavalcade (1939), and deleted scenes from movies starring Danny Kaye, Carmen Miranda, and Ginger Rogers.
For more information on the Hidden Hollywood DVDs, visit Image Entertainment, Inc.. To purchase a copy of Hidden Hollywood, visit Movies Unlimited.
By Jeff Stafford