Back in the 1970s, "That's Entertainment" turned out to be a surprise hit, as folks flocked to the theaters to see a celebration of the MGM musical. It was a very good film and led to two sequels. However, the films are flawed in one way--they ignored the musicals of rival studios, such as RKO, MGM and Twentieth Century-Fox. So, for that reason alone, "Hollywood Singing and Dancing: A Musical History" is a better film for someone wanting to learn about the history of this genre. Now I am not saying it's perfect--but it is darn good because its clips are not restricted to a single studio.
So what are the film's deficits and assets? Well, on the plus side, it not only talks about ALL the studio's musicals but it also extends to today, since it's a new film. Also, the interviews are quite nice and there are tons of clips. On the negative side, the clips were occasionally fuzzy (especially the earlier ones) and the film is NOT completely comprehensive. Many important films are omitted and you'd get the impression that Busby Berkeley did EVERY musical from the 30s (he actually did far less than most people think). But this can be forgiven, you the film was not intended as a mini-series (which it really needed for so much material). Unless you absolutely hate musicals, this film is for you and well worth seeing.
By the way, I really wished the film had talked about some of the flops of the genre--such as "Camelot", "Paint Your Wagon", "Can't Stop the Music" or "Xanadu" (among others). Now THAT would make for an interesting film!
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