This sensuously beautiful film chronicles the activities of four sisters who gather in Kyoto every year to view the cherry blossoms. It paints a vivid portrait of the pre-war lifestyle of ... See full summary »
This documentary provides a behind the scenes look at the making of movies in 1925 at the M-G-M Studios in Culver City, California. The studio itself is a small city, encompassing forty-five buildings, including fourteen sound stages (number fourteen which is currently under construction), connected by three miles of paved roads over the forty-three acre property. The stories, the soul of any movie, are vetted through a story department headed by Mrs. M.F. Lee. The approved stories are passed to the scenario writers, supported by the research department, who ensure factual accuracy. Taking the script, the director makes up the storyboards, and casts the lead roles. The director has a plethora of big name stars available at his disposal. The casting office, headed by Robert McIntyre, fills the supporting roles. His office is filled with aspiring actors, hoping to be the next big star. Being M-G-M with many of the movies being "musicals", a large subgroup of the performers are dancers, ... Written by
Although this film has no titles for cast and crew at the beginning of the film, the intertitles identify many of the MGM employees shown, including Joan Crawford under her real name of Lucille LeSueur, "a recent MGM discovery". See more »
Something we don't have from any other studio of that era...
...which is a half-hour silent documentary on the inner workings of a motion picture studio in the silent era. There might have been some made, but they are long lost, with maybe the exception of 1924's "Tour of the Thomas Ince Studio" which supposedly still survives and is even on DVD. MGM is unique in that, because it was basically a manufactured studio created by the merging of Metro Pictures, Sam Goldwyn's interests, and Louis B. Mayer pictures, it was aware of its place and importance in film history from its inception in 1924.
MGM not only shows off its silent era stars and directors, it goes to the trouble to show you the cameramen, film editors, costume designers and makers, dressing rooms, and even the barber shop, commissary, and infirmary. Each of these departments either has the staff smiling and standing outside for a clear picture that pans across them, or you see them hard at work, as is the case with the seamstresses bending over their old-fashioned sewing machines. This place was truly a factory with the attitude that each component, no matter how unglamorous, had an important role to play in its assembly line.
Among the stars, you get to see John Gilbert clowning around and looking so fit and happy just as he reaches stardom. William Haines, who will become a big late silent era and early sound star isn't even credited at this point because it will be another year, in 1926, when he gets his first break-through role. Norma Shearer is shown holding a mountain of fan mail. Oddly prescient is the time taken to introduce the audience to Lucille Le Sueur, the "MGM find of 1925". For those of you who don't know, that was Joan Crawford's name before she changed it. Among the directors shown, the most easily identifiable one for me was Eric Von Stroheim. He directed Greed and The Merry Widow for MGM before this efficient movie factory had enough of his excesses and sent him packing. If someone like Von Stroheim hadn't already existed, the movies would have invented him.
The soundtrack that has been added to this short in the modern era is interesting - it consists of instrumental renditions of songs from "Singin in the Rain", which in turn were largely composed between 1929 and 1940, although today most of these songs are still associated with the silent era and the roaring 20's.
Highly recommended for the film history buff.
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