|Index||2 reviews in total|
Of value essentially to cineastes, this interesting but thinly produced documentary includes a small amount of seldom seen footage of screen tests among several on display. Elsewise, although there is little here not to like, excerpts from primarily well-known films are shown, with an overall array seemingly sparse for a 75 year commemoration. Goldie Hawn serves as hostess for the affair that is in five primary sections: Rising Stars (new performers); Tough Guys (gangsters); Fight to the Finish (friction between actors and studio bosses); Director as Star; Shooting Stars (John Wayne and Clint Eastwood). The screen tests of talent in the making, despite their brevity, will be of interest to some, as they highlight Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Paul Newman, and Lana Turner. Oft shown clips are mainly of performers from the star classification, including James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart (and Lauren Bacall), Bette Davis, Natalie Wood, Mel Gibson, and Robert Redford. During Hawn's narration, she emphasizes the variance between a historic "working class sensibility" of Warner Brothers motion pictures, and the purely escapist although charming fare developed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, principal rival of the Burbank company. A briefest mention is made of directors, and then but two, Michael Curtiz and Stanley Kubrick, although Robert Zemeckis does mention the significance of "filmmaker's vision" as compared with works created by committee. There is an obligatory grouping of snippets commenting upon Jack Warner's autocratic methods while dealing with performers working under the security of seven year contracts existent during his studio's salad days. Performers other than Hawn are seen relating of their experiences with the studio and its product, and while some are without worth, others deserve attention, notably Dennis Hopper, Bill Paxton, and Peter Bogdanovich. By and large, production values for this 45 minute piece are disappointing, a perception being created of its being merely an extended trailer; nonetheless, although one must wonder why a better effort is not made, this film is rewarding for aficionados of cinema.
For years, Warner Brothers had to borrow stars from other studios in
order to produce musicals. In 1948, they borrowed Judy Garland from MGM
for the splashy musical, "Romance On The High Sears," but Miss Garland
was not "able" to do the picture. Then, they borrowed Betty Hutton from
Paramount, but she became pregnant and had to bow out. A happy accident
occurred when Sammy Cahn and Jules Styne brought a young band singer
(Doris Day) to see director, Michael Curtiz ("Mildred Pierce,"
"Casablanca," "Yankee Doodle Dandy," etc.), who finally found a star on
par with the MGM musical greats.
This documentary on Warner Brothers shows what happened after Doris Day didn't adhere to the "new image" Hollywood took on during the sexual revolution and the advent of the drug culture. Day was scorned for her "clean image" and in years to follow, was ignored in documentaries like this one about WB, a studio she helped save from extinction. People who contributed less to the studio were included here, of course, and treated like THEY were more significant to the studio than Doris Day ever was. This makes the producers of this "piece" look petty and probably drugged out.
None of the stars featured in this show were bigger than Doris Day, who remains, to this day, the top female box office star of all time. Box office. Isn't that the goal of every actor, if they want a career in films?
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