Black and white film with two-strip Technicolor sequences.
Eleven directors: Dorothy Arzner, Victor Heerman, Ernst Lubitsch, Edward Sutherland, Otto Brower, Lothar Mendes, Edmund Goulding, Rowland V. Lee, Victor Schertzinger, Frank Tuttle, Edwin H. Knopf. Supervised by: Elsie Janis. Dance ensembles: David Bennett. Photography: Harry Fischbeck and Victor Milner. Set design: John Wenger.
Supervised: Elsie Janis. Directed by Dorothy Arzner, Otto Brower, Edmund Goulding, Victor Heerman, Edwin H. Knopf, Rowland V. Lee, Ernst Lubitsch, Lothar Mendes, Victor Schertzinger, Edward Sutherland, Frank Tuttle. Photographed by: Harry Fischbeck, Victor Milner, Set Design: John Wenger. Songs: "Paramount on Parade Theme Song," "Any Time's the Time To Fall in Love," "What Did Cleopatra Say?" "I'm True to the Navy Now" Elsie Janis, Jack King. Song: "We're the Masters of Ceremony" Ballard MacDonald, Dave Dreyer. Song: "Torna a Sorrento" Leo Robin, Ernesto De Curtis. Songs: "I'm in Training for You," "Dancing To Save Your Sole," "Let Us Drink to the Girl of My Dreams" L. Wolfe Gilbert, Abel Baer. Song: "My Marine" Richard A. Whiting, Raymond B. Eagan. Song: "All I Want Is Just One Girl" Richard A. Whiting, Leo Robin. Song: "I'm Isadore, the Toreador" David Franklin. Song: "Sweepin' the Clouds Away" Sam Coslow. Dance & Ensemble directed by David Bennett.
CAST: Iris Adrian, Richard Arlen, Jean Arthur, Mischa Auer, William Austin, George Bancroft, Clara Bow, Evelyn Brent, Mary Brian, Clive Brook, Virginia Bruce, Nancy Carroll, Ruth Chatterton, Maurice Chevalier, Gary Cooper, Cecil Cunningham, Leon Errol, Stuart Erwin, Henry Fink, Kay Francis, Skeets Gallagher, Edmund Goulding, Harry Green, Mitzi Green, Robert Greig, James Hall, Phillips Holmes, Helen Kane, Dennis King, Abe Lyman and His Band, Fredric March, Nino Martini, Mitzi Mayfair, Marion Morgan Dancers, David Newell, Jack Oakie, Warner Oland, Zelma O'Neal, Eugene Pallette, Joan Peers, Jack Pennick, William Powell, Charles (Buddy) Rogers, Lillian Roth, Rolfe Sedan, Stanley Smith, Fay Wray.
MUSICAL REVUE: SHOWGIRLS ON PARADE: a Technicolor spectacle of chorus girls and ushers to the tune of the theme song. TITLES: Dissolves including studio scenes and toe-dancing by Mitzi Mayfair. INTRODUCTION: Jack Oakie, Skeets Gallagher, and Leon Errol open with "We're the Masters of Ceremony." LOVE TIME: Charles Rogers and Lillian Roth with a boy-girl chorus on a cuckoo-clock set sing "Any Time's the Time to Fall in Love." MURDER WILL OUT: a travesty on detective mysteries with William Powell as Philo Vance, Clive Brook as Sherlock Holmes, Eugene Pallette as Sergeant Heath, Warner Baxter as Dr. Fu Manchu, and Jack Oakie as the victim. ORIGIN OF THE APACHE: a slapstick sketch with Maurice Chevalier and Evelyn Brent dancing in a bedroom, directed by Lubitsch. SONG OF THE GONDOLIER: Italian tenor Nino Martini appears in a Technicolor sketch singing "Torna a Sorrento." IN A HOSPITAL: a comedy sketch with Leon Errol, Helen Kane, and David Newell. IN A GIRL'S GYM: Jack Oakie as the instructor and Zelma O' Neal as the jealous sweetheart, including the song "I'm in Training for You." THE TOREADOR: Harry Green as the Toreador and Kay Francis as Carmen in a comic sketch with the Marion Morgan dancers, with Green singing "I'm Isadore, the Toreador." THE MONTMARTRE GIRL: Ruth Chatterton in a Paris cafe sings "My Marine" to a quartette including Stuart Erwin, Stanley Smith, and Fredric March. PARK IN PARIS: Chevalier as a Paris gendarme patrols a park singing "All I Want Is Just One Girl." MITZI HERSELF: Mitzi Green sings the Chevalier song as Charlie Mack of Moran and Mack would sing it, then as Chevalier sings it. THE SCHOOLROOM: Helen Kane is the teacher in a modernistic schoolroom singing "What Did Cleopatra Say?" to the children, who answer "Boop Boopa Doop." THE GALLOWS SONG: Skeets Gallagher demands that Dennis King sing, before he is hanged, Mana-Zucca's "Nichavo," a Russian love song-all in Technicolor. DANCE MAD: Nancy Carroll, with chorus support and Abe Lyman's band, does "Dancing to Save Your Sole." DREAM GIRL: a sentimental interlude in Technicolor with Richard Arlen, Jean Arthur, Mary Brian, Gary Cooper, James Hall, Fay Wray, among others, featuring "Let Us Drink to the Girl of My Dreams." THE REDHEAD: Clara Bow appears with Jack Oakie, Skeets Gallagher, and a chorus of 42 sailors in "I'm True to the Navy Now. IMPULSES: George Bancroft, at a social function with Kay Francis, William Austin, and others, demonstrates contrasts in social behavior. THE RAINBOW REVELS: Chevalier and a girls' chorus appear as Paris chimney sweeps in the Technicolor finale, singing "Sweepin' the Clouds Away." (All information from "The American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films.")
In the first few years of sound film, each major studio hastily constructed a revue to show off their major stars talking, and sometimes singing and dancing. The most stylish of these smorgasbords was Paramount on Parade. The vaudeville format permitted versions in many languages featuring sequences with the stars of the targeted country. The American cast included Maurice Chevalier, Richard Arlen, Jean Arthur, William Austin, George Bancroft, Clara Bow, Evelyn Brent, Mary Brian, Clive Brook, Virginia Bruce, Nancy Carroll, Ruth Chatterton, Gary Cooper, Cecil Cunningham, Leon Errol, Stuart Erwin, Kay Francis, Skeets Gallagher, Harry Green, Mitzi Green, James Hall, Phillips Holmes, Helen Kane, Dennis King, the Abe Lyman Band, Fredric March, Nino Martini, Mitzi Mayfair, David Newell, Jack Oakie, Warner Oland, Zelma O'Neal, Eugene Pallette, Joan Peers, William Powell, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Lillian Roth, Stanley Smith, and Fay Wray. The only major Paramount star not included was Jeanette. (Newcomer Claudette Colbert wouldn't achieve stardom until May, 1930 in The Big Pond with Chevalier.)
For years, a report has circulated that Jeanette McDonald had acted as Mistress of Ceremonies in the Spanish or French versions. Versions had been filmed in a variety of languages, interpolating sequences of performers popular in Scandinavia, France, Germany, Japan, and South America. However, Jeanette's name did not appear in the extensive Variety credits for of those foreign-language versions.
Until 1996, the only prints of Paramount on Parade available were missing the color sequences, each of which was a major musical number: "Sweeping the Clouds Away" with Chevalier; "Isidore the Toreador" with Harry Green; "Nichavo" with Dennis King," "Come Drink to the Girl of My Dreams" with an all-star cast; and "Torna a Surriento" with Nino Martini. (Fortunately, "Sweeping the Clouds" survived in a black and white version.)
Now the U.C.L.A. film archive has reconstructed a nearly complete print, using new-found sound track recordings and color footage. (One scene has soundtrack only plus still photos, another has image only without sound.) This new footage reveals a long shot of Jeanette seated in a gondola at the beginning of the "Torna a Surriento" (Come Back to Sorrento) sequence sung by Nino Martini. However, when the camera cuts to a closeup, it is another actress who does nothing but smile at the singer. Originally, the song had been a duet, but when Jeanette's part was cut (probably for time considerations), it is likely that Jeanette insisted on removing her image so she wouldn't appear to be a mere extra. This was easy to do in the closeups, but it was too expensive to reshoot the Venetian canal. Thus the mystery of Jeanette's involvement with Paramount on Parade is more or less solved.