The Hollywood Revue of 1929 is one of those early talkie variety shows that were no doubt fascinating to moviegoers hearing their favorite stars speak for the first time but are now downright unbearable. This one is 130 minutes long and was actually nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Go figure.
One of the few “highlights” that still stands up well is Laurel & Hardy’s act as perpetually botching magicians. Emcee Jack Benny, bereft of most of his later comedic genius, introduces Stan and Ollie when the curtain inadvertently opens on them before their act is prepared. From there, Stan manages to destroy most of their tricks before the act even gets started. The camera pretty much remains glued to a single spot on the stage, but since most of the comedy comes from L&H’s reactions and pantomime, that isn’t a huge problem. Watch the movie for Laurel & Hardy’s segment, and then test yourself as to how much of the movie’s remainder you can tolerate.