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Despite its misleading title, this is not a condensed history of
M-G-M Studios. It is a one-hour promotional piece for what seems like
single one of M-G-M's then-upcoming releases for late 1950 and all of
and although it's fun to watch to see the way film studios used to
its releases, it plays like a one-hour commercial, and can quickly get
tiresome if you're not passionately interested.
At the beginning, the great actor Lionel Barrymore appears onscreen, making us hope that he will be our guide for the film; no such luck, unfortunately. Dore Schary, the then-new head of M-G-M, who ousted Louis B. Mayer from power, is our host, and he is quite bland and forgettable. We see clips (some of them quite familiar) from both Metro classics and obscure films, none lasting more than a minute or two, and one of the few interesting things about "The Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Story" is that some of these clips were shot before the films were actually finished. So, we get to see bass-baritone William Warfield shot from an entirely different camera angle, one that does not appear in the finished film, as he sings "Ol' Man River" in M-G-M's 1951 version of "Show Boat".
Unfortunately, "The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Story" does not go into detail about any of the films or how they were made, so all we basically get are tons of clips from M-G-M's 1950-51 films, and no single clip is long enough to keep us entertained (unlike, say, the "That's Entertainment!" films). "The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Story" is good for curiosity value, but it is no substitute for either a documentary about M-G-M or one of the "That's Entertainment" films.
Hour-long promotional film with Lionel Barrymore introducing MGM head Dore Schary, who hawks the upcoming releases from MGM for the year 1951. We get clips from Show Boat, The Red Badge of Courage, Quo Vadis, Night Into Morning, Father's Little Dividend, It's a Big Country, An American in Paris, and many others. The framing sequences with Barrymore and Schare are in beautiful Technicolor. The film clips are in both color and black & white. It's a mildly interesting little curiosity but there's not much here that will appeal to anyone who isn't a die-hard fan of classic Hollywood. I found it watchable enough because I was bored but it's not something I would go out of my way to see again.
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Story (1951)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
As the 1950s came around, MGM was in some major financial trouble after several movies didn't catch on at the box office so they produced this 50 minute documentary hosted by Lionel Barrymore. The point of this documentary was to highlight several of the MGM films that were going to be released in the year in hopes that theater owners would be excited and not lose faith in them.
So what you basically have is a trailer compilation so if you enjoy such things then you'll probably have fun watching this. Countless trailers are shown including VENGEANCE VALLEY, ROYAL WEDDING, THE RED BRIDGE OF COURAGE, SOLDIERS THREE, THE PAINTED HILLS, THE GREAT CARUSO, EXCUSE MY DUST, SHOW BOAT, AN American IN Paris and QUO VADIS among others. It should be noted that each film doesn't have the trailer played in full but overall this is just a way for the studio to show what was coming up. It's certainly nothing special and will mainly appeal to people who would want to see clips from these films.
No, this is not "The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Story" promised by the title.
It's a series of film trailers and promotional clips heralding the
studio's "Films of the Future" (with an acknowledged exception).
Collectively, these films are nowhere near as good as those in "Some of
the Best", the previous 25-year collection of clips, which is recalled
in an introduction by Lionel Barrymore. But, there are a few fine films
represented here. They should have switched the titles of this one and
"Some of the Best". Mr. Barrymore reads his opening lines with
enthusiasm; he is a link to MGM's glory days, and inadvertently
suggests the end of an era.
Barrymore turns the narration over to new studio suit Dore Schary, who supplanted the larger-than-life Louis B. Mayer.
Mr. Schary divides the clips into black-and-white, then Technicolor. We begin with some humor and action with Van Johnson in "Go for Broke". Next up is a period drama called "Inside Straight" with Arlene Dahl's bosom prominently displayed. Those two cover sex and violence well. Jane Powell and Vic Damone sing sweetly together. The preview for "People in Love" with Ray Milland and Nancy Davis is one that works (it made me want to see the unfamiliar movie). Ava Gardner looks beautiful as "Pandora". Lastly, "Quo Vadis" with Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr is promoted as the biggest thing since "Gone with the Wind".
**** The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Story (3/12/51) Herman Hoffman : Dore Schary, Lionel Barrymore
LIONEL BARRYMORE introduces a one hour segment of uninspired film clips
from mostly sub-par movies that MGM was getting ready to release in
1951, when the studio was facing declining box-office receipts because
of competition from television.
The films are shown in a bunch of uninspired clips that only indicate some of them should have been shelved. The B&W films come first, followed by the Technicolor features.
There's barely a jewel in MGM's crown--since none of the upcoming projects with the exception of one or two are anything to write home about. None of this looks good for Dore Schary, taking over after Louis B. Mayer stepped down. Films like GO FOR BROKE, IT'S A BIG COUNTRY, THE PAINTED HILLS (a Lassie story that didn't even get a film review from The N.Y. Times) and MR. IMPERIUM (Ezio Pinza and Lana Turner) and other even lesser products give no indication of quality films that have endured the test of time.
Might as well skip this puffed up commercial since it's tiresome and completely lacking in imagination and quality.
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