Roy Hemming
April 02, 1993 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Dawn of Sound II

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
performer
Jack Benny, Marie Dressler, Penny Singleton, Ethel Waters
genre
musical, Short

We gave it a B

As entertainment, this six-hour laserdisc collection of early musical features and shorts ranges from terrific to abysmal. As movie history, The Dawn of Sound II is invaluable, superbly remastered from rare vault materials. There’s not only King Vidor’s vivid, though stereotypical, all-black song-and-dance melodrama, Hallelujah!, but intriguing excerpts (some in early two-strip Technicolor) from the surviving parts of such 1929-30 musicals as Chasing Rainbows (with Marie Dressler and Jack Benny), On With the Show (including Ethel Waters’ sardonic ”Am I Blue?”), Good News (featuring Penny Singleton doing a mean ”Varsity Drag”) — plus a whole slew of uneven Metro Movietone shorts that vary from great fun to object lessons in why vaudeville died. B

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