1925 Studio Tour (1925) Poster

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8/10
A fascinating documentary about the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio in 1925.
Arthur Hausner2 November 2001
Untitled and without any crew credits, this 32-minute silent documentary takes you on a tour of MGM in 1925, meeting the people who create the movies, and watching some of them do it. I found it fascinating, especially when some of the moviemakers were identified by the inter-titles. It was nice to be able finally to attach a face to some familiar names such as writers Agnes Christine Johnston, Jane Murfin, Waldemar Young and others who are identified and shown in closeups. I noted that Howard Hawks was included as a writer - he didn't start directing until later. Less interesting were the showing of groups of unidentified crew members: about 50 cameramen lined up in a row, each hand cranking their cameras, seemed to serve no useful purpose. Unlike the writers, who were identified individually, the directors were all identified first in an inter-title, and the camera then panned across them standing in a row, but you could not tell which name belonged to which director. I did recognize Erich von Stroheim, but only because he was also a famous actor. When the actors and actresses were introduced as a group by inter-titles, it was much more fun, because identifying them became a game. I also saw three unlisted actors: Ford Sterling, William Haines and Sojin, and there are probably others.

Later on, some actors and some crew members were identified and shown in closeup. I finally got to see what famed art director Cedric Gibbons looked like. And it was delightful to see "the world's foremost designer," Romaine de Tirtoff Erte, fitting a gown on "M-G-M's 'find' of 1925," Joan Crawford, when she was still known as Lucille Le Sueur. I enjoyed famous actors clowning around: John Gilbert puts his hat in position to hide his kissing Zasu Pitts, and Norma Shearer mugs the camera while 'accidentally' dropping hundreds of fan letters.

Most interesting were shots of the filming of two movies: Tod Browning directing a scene for Mystic, The (1925), and Edmund Goulding directing Conrad Nagel and Lucille La Verne in Sun-Up (1925). And there's much more to this enjoyable documentary. It eventually acquired a music soundtrack, which is the way it is shown every once in a while on the Turner Classic Movies Channel (TCM). Unfortunately, it has never been scheduled (probably because it has no title), but is a filler whenever a two-hour slot is scheduled for a silent film that runs less than an hour and a half. It's worth looking for such a case.
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9/10
Something we don't have from any other studio of that era...
calvinnme12 September 2010
...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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5/10
Welcome to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios
wes-connors31 August 2009
Silent documentary introduced via title card: "Let us go behind the motion picture screen, into the shadow land of Make Believe, to meet the men and women who create our photoplays - to follow them in their work from the birth of a story to its first showing in a theater." Then, we're on tour at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in Culver City, California (part of what is collectively known, to the world outside, as "Hollywood"), circa 1925. Writers, directors, stars, and other MGM personnel from are introduced - many in the "group shots" are not identified with precision, unfortunately.

Bigger stars, like John Gilbert and Norma Shearer (both in "He Who Gets Slapped"), get special camera consideration. Interestingly, Lucille Le Sueur, "an M-G-M 'find' of 1925 is showcased; she would join the bigger stars after changing her name to Joan Crawford. It's been claimed Ms. Crawford's name was changed for other reasons; but, the presence of established actress Lucille La Verne in this very film makes it obvious Lucille Le Sueur wasn't going to keep her original name. The names Lucille La Verne and Lucille Le Sueur are far too similar.

The (then) better known Ms. La Verne participates in one of this half-hour film's "behind-the scenes" highlights - she and Conrad Nagel are briefly seen directed by Edmund "Ed" Goulding in "Sun Up" (released August 1925); and, director Tod Browning is seen "taking night scenes" for "The Mystic" (also released August 1925). There is less "tour" footage than the title "MGM Studio Tour" suggests. But, you do get a good look at the studio and workers who could, within a year, claim they led "The Big Parade" of Hollywood movie studios.

***** Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (1925) Louis B. Mayer : Edmund Goulding ~ John Gilbert, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford
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10/10
Fascinating Movie History--Must See
sgoodyear20039 March 2009
This is one of the best behind the scenes documentaries a movie history buff is going to see of early motion picture production. It is MGM 1925. It covers every department at MGM at that time. You are not viewing a documentary made today but one made in 1925. Excellent quality. I discovered it was aired on TCM in December 2007. I had "The Smart Set" on my DVR (a silent MGM picture from 1928 with William Haines). I recently watched it and discovered this gem at the end--in between films. It is amazing "living" history from 84 years ago. Every film history class should view this. I liked seeing the people in the film who all seem very much alive, enjoying life and their profession.
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6/10
MGM shows off
bkoganbing31 March 2008
This silent documentary short is a studio tour of the newly created MGM studios at the time. We get to see all the stars that were under contract at the time as well as a lot of behind the scenes people and the studio executives, topped off by Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was just getting started at this time. It was an amalgamation of Metro studios and the former Goldwyn Picture Company. Sam Goldwyn was originally Sam Goldfish and he originally was with Famous-Players-Lasky which eventually became Paramount. Goldfish and Edgar Selwyn left Famous-Players-Lasky and formed Goldwyn Pictures taking the first syllable from Goldfish and the last from Selwyn as their company name. Goldfish liked the new name so much he took it for his own.

Well, it could have wound up Selfish Pictures.

Anyway Goldwyn soon left that to branch out on his own as an independent producer. Sam Goldwyn never had anything to do with what became MGM though his name is forever on their product.

It was originally Metro-Goldwyn. Louis B. Mayer as president had enough ego and clout to then get his name tagged on at the end. And it became Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

I believe this short was a kind of cinematic brochure for the new studio that was being launched. I got a very big kick out of a shot with the caption of MGM showing off its new discovery, Lucille LeSeuer who as we all know shortly became Joan Crawford.

The short is a real treat though, hopefully TCM will broadcast it at some point.

And just think about a studio named Metro-Selfish-Mayer.
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Great for Film Buffs
Michael_Elliott27 February 2008
1925 MGM Studio Tour (1925)

*** (out of 4)

Historically interesting short takes us on a behind the scenes tour of MGM where we see all the sets and everyone who is involved with the studio. When I say everyone I do mean it as we meet directors, writers, actors, editors, dancing girls and so on. The best thing about this short is that we see all sorts of talent together in one shot since all of the directors are shown together, all the actors shown together and so on. Howard Hawks is shown in the writers department but the directors here include Browning, von Sternberg, von Stroheim, Vidor, Wellman and countless others. The actors on hand include Novarro, Nagel, Gilbert, Busch, Shearer, Chaney and Crawford. Thalberg and Mayer are also shown. We also get to see Browning directing part of his film The Mystic. The film runs 30 minutes, which is a tad bit too long but it's still fun for film buffs.
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7/10
"The Sound of (Self Congratulatory) Silence"-with apologies to Simon & Garfunkel
John T. Ryan15 November 2014
"WELL NOW, AREN'T we wonderful" could be a title of this 3 reeler silent short subject. It surely must be a most early example of shameless self promotion in the history of Tinsel Town.

IN WHAT MUST have looked like Picture Day at the local Elementery School, everybody (and we do mean EVERYBODY) showed up in their Sunday best to be photographed. Shot in almost exclusively static poses, it has the appearance of what the MGM 1925 Yearbook would look like. Actors, Stars, Caneramen, Writers, Producers, Service Employees and Tradesmen were all included.*

IN ALL FAIRNESS to Louis B. Mayer, Irving Thalberg and the 'Suits' at Lowe's Inc. in New York, this wasn't all self-congratulatory fluff, for the motion picture business had grown considerably from the humble origins less than 4 decades prior. By this time Hollywood was the proud home of what was the 5th largest industry in America; falling in behind STEEL, PETROLEUM, RAILROADS and AUTOMOBILE.

WITH SUCH PROMINENCE, the public would surely want to get a look behind the scenes. It was 'Leo the Lion' who gave it to them. And don't you forget that! You got it, Schultz?

NOTE: * We cannot close our somewhat caustic review without making an inclusion about the mention of what the film title card refers to as "the greatest MGM discovery of 1925." It was young Starlett, Lucille LeSuerr; who we all know better as Joan Crawford.
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