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Light bio-pic of American Broadway pioneer Jerome Kern, featuring renditions of the famous songs from his musical plays by contemporary stage artists, including a condensed production of his most famous: 'Showboat'. Written by
Stewart M. Clamen <email@example.com>
Jerome Kern died while MGM's bio-pic TIL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY was still in the pre-production stage--and while Kern had been more than willing for MGM to tell all, his estate was considerably more reticent. In order to avoid any legal issues, MGM scrapped their original intentions, wrote up a fluffy script that bore little similarity to Kern's life, and crammed the film with every musical star available in a non-stop series of drop-dead-stunning production numbers.
The result may be extremely bad biography, but leading man Robert Walker and co-star Van Heflin keep the sentimental story moving--and the musical numbers are piled on top of each other so quickly that one doesn't really question it. The film opens with a lengthy montage from SHOWBOAT, Kern's innovative masterpiece, that features knock-out performances from Lena Horne, Katheryn Grayson, and Virgina O'Brien, and then quickly segues into a series of star-solos that feature June Allyson, Gower Champion, Cyd Charisse, Angela Lansbury, Dinah Shore, and Frank Sinatra.
Along the way we are also treated to an extended cameo by Judy Garland, performing "Look For The Silver Lining" precisely as Marilyn Miller played it on stage and singing "Who?" to a staircase of chorus boys--which Garland was said to find most amusing, considering that she was pregnant at the time. Also notable is Lucille Bremer in the role of Robert Walker's stage-struck ward; although her star quickly faded, Bremer is an attractive performer and shows her talent for song and dance here by teaming with Van Johnson for a spirited version of "I Won't Dance." TIL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY will not appeal to most casual viewers, for the story line and script are much too weak. But musical fans will love this one all the way from Lansbury doing a Cockney "Spoon With Me" to Sinatra belting out "Old Man River." As a Jerome Kern song-and-dance fest, the movie can't be beat, and it should have a place in every musical fan's collection.
Unfortunately, TIL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY has slipped into public domain. DVD releases abound, but none seem to offer respectable picture or sound; if you can find the original MGM video release, grab it.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
31 of 34 people found this review helpful.
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