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That's Entertainment! (1974)

G  |   |  Documentary, Family, Musical  |  21 June 1974 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 3,602 users  
Reviews: 44 user | 19 critic

Various MGM stars from yesterday present their favourite musical moments from the studio's 50 year history.

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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Himself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clip from 'The Band Wagon'
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Himself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clip from 'Going Hollywood'
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Himself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clips from 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' - 'Singin' in the Rain' and 'An American in Paris'
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Himself - Co-Host / Narrator - Clip from 1947 version of 'Good News'
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Herself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clip from 'In the Good Old Summertime'
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Himself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clip from 'Singin' in the Rain'
...
Herself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clip from 'Singin' in the Rain'
...
Himself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clips from 'Babes in Arms' - 'Girl Crazy' - 'Babes on Broadway'
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Himself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clip from 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'
...
Himself - Co-Host
...
Herself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clip from 'Cynthia'
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Clip from 'Words and Music' (archive footage)
Kay Armen ...
Clip from 'Hit the Deck' (archive footage)
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Clips from 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'The Harvey Girls' (archive footage)
...
Clip from 'The Great Ziegfeld' (archive footage)
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Storyline

MGM musical numbers from the introduction of sound in the late '20s through to the 1950s, possibly with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Judy Garland getting the most coverage. Linked by some of the stars who worked at MGM handing the commentary on one to another. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Boy. Do we need it now. See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

21 June 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

That's Entertainment: 50 Years of MGM  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,200,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(35 mm magnetic prints)| (35 mm optical prints)|

Color:

(Metrocolor)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was among the last MGM films shot on the studio's renowned back lot, of which there were actually six distinct satellite parcels of land west and south of the main lot, or Lot 1. Lot 2, the last of them to serve as a working back lot, was in use until late 1978. Development for residential housing on Lots 3-6 began the year "That's Entertainment!" filmed its new material with the studio's stars strolling the various standing sets, which had been allowed to deteriorate for well over a decade before their demolition. This is particularly noticeable in the train station set where Fred Astaire gives his introduction, and Bing Crosby refers to the English Lake area as looking rather "scruffy". On the other hand, the entire purpose of the film is nostalgia, and the use of the 'scruffy' facade, clearly aged and unused, helps to set the tone as one of a brief return to the glamor of the past, even though it was all make-believe. See more »

Goofs

In the "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" sequence from The Great Ziegfeld, narrator Frank Sinatra says that Dennis Morgan is singing the song. In fact, Morgan's singing is dubbed by Allan Jones, not because Morgan's well-known tenor voice was unacceptable but because Jones had already pre-recorded the mammoth sequence. At the time, the still unknown Morgan was billed by his real name, Stanley Morner. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Frank Sinatra: [narrating] The year is 1929; the singer, Cliff Edwards, also known as Ukelele Ike. The film: "Hollywood Revue"; it is the first all-talking, all-singing, all-dancing movie ever made. In the years that followed, "Singin' in the Rain" would become a theme song for MGM.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Producer Jack Haley Jr.'s credit appears over a still image of his father, Jack Haley, as the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. See more »

Connections

Features Two Weeks with Love (1950) See more »

Soundtracks

The Babbitt and the Bromide
(1927) (uncredited)
Music by George Gershwin
Danced by Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire
From Ziegfeld Follies (1945)
See more »

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User Reviews

A Mixture of Nostalgia and Self-Congratulation
14 August 2009 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

In a departure from my normal practice, I will not be awarding "That's Entertainment!"a mark out of ten. There seems little point in rating a film when ninety percent of it consists of clips taken from other films. This film is not a straightforward documentary history of the Hollywood musical. It was made by MGM as a celebration of MGM musicals, and studiously ignores anything made by that studio's rivals. Clips of song-and-dance numbers from some of those musicals are introduced by a number of the stars who appeared in them, such as Debbie Reynolds, Frank Sinatra and Mickey Rooney.

This compilation was probably made because of the way the cinema was changing in the mid-seventies. Although the early part of the decade had seen two particularly fine examples in "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Cabaret", by 1974 the traditional cinema musical was on the decline. There was also a move away from shooting on sets towards shooting on location. Some of the introductory scenes are shot where the musicals themselves were filmed, on MGM's famous backlot which, by 1974, was starting to look very shabby and dilapidated. (It was to be demolished for redevelopment shortly afterwards).

The first part of the film was not particularly interesting, largely because so many of the featured clips were taken from films which are now forgotten and even thirty-five years ago were probably little-known. I also wondered why so much attention was given to Esther Williams, who certainly looked good in a swimsuit but was a very limited actress and whose choreographed water-ballets must have looked hopelessly cheesy by the seventies. One thing that I did learn, however, is that the musical genre was so popular in the thirties and forties that many actors, who today would not be thought of as musical stars, were press-ganged into service, regardless of vocal talent (or the lack thereof). We therefore see clips of the likes of James Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford and Clark Gable performing in some very obscure old films. (Stewart and Taylor also serve as presenters). Of these, it is Gable who acquits himself with the greatest honour, but his musical career never took off, apparently because his fans felt that all that singing and dancing was a bit sissy and out of keeping with his he-man image.

Things liven up in the second half of the film, because it now starts to concentrate on the really famous musicals for which MGM is still remembered today. The smug, self-congratulatory tone is still present, but the studio can be forgiven a little self-congratulation when it is talking about films as good as "Show Boat", "Seven Brides for "Seven Brothers", "An American in Paris" and "Singin' in the Rain". These last two, of course, both starred Gene Kelly, who also acts as a presenter. Kelly and Fred Astaire, with their very different styles of dancing, were often perceived as rivals, so it was a good idea to have Kelly present a tribute to Astaire and Astaire present one to Kelly. The most moving moment comes when Liza Minnelli presents a tribute to her mother, Judy Garland, who had died a few years earlier.

"That's Entertainment!" was obviously popular, because it was followed two years later by "That's Entertainment II"". (There were to be two more similar compilations, "That's Dancing!" in the eighties and "That's Entertainment III" in the nineties). The appeal of films like this at the time was probably their nostalgia value for the older generation who could remember the original musicals. Today they seem more like a curiosity, albeit an entertaining one.


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