Pre-code MGM curiosity Hollywood Party plays exactly like you would expect a film with eight writers (only two credited) and eight directors (none of them credited) to play. Not a coherent narrative or even a serviceable revue, Hollywood Party is nonetheless full of intermittent pleasures, thanks to several discrete scenes.
Loosely tying the whole affair together is Jimmy Durante, playing a version of himself who’s the star of the Schnarzan jungle man franchise. Worried about the encroaching threat of knockoff Liondora the Untamed (George Givot) and audiences’ genre fatigue, his producer urges him to give the series a shot in the arm with wilder, more dangerous beasts.
The key to the scheme lies in the figure of Baron Munchausen (Jack Pearl), a wealthy lion owner just back from Africa. Durante throws a lavish party in an attempt to win over the Baron’s favor and his beasts, preparing the way for the increasingly surreal events to come.
As the shamelessly mugging Durante stages a grand evening full of song and drink, he has to deal with his uninvited and bad-tempered costar (Lupe Velez as herself) crashing the party, the devious Liondora looking to win the lions and eventually, one of the lions itself engaging him in an all-out brawl.
The musical numbers in Hollywood Party mostly remind one of better iterations — kaleidoscopic overhead shots of choral girls are pale Busby Berkeley rip-offs and a humorous romantic duet between Eddie Quillan and June Clyde is like proto-Astaire and Rogers with much less impressive dancing.
But just as often, the film feels like its own bizarre creation, like when Durante gets into a fight with Mickey Mouse, who then segues into a Technicolor animated song about chocolate soldiers that turns downright morbid. Equally strange but less pleasant is Liondora’s seduction of an oil baroness that becomes uncomfortably rape-y, all while her husband observes, nonplussed.