|Index||4 reviews in total|
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!
I'll rate this 7 for the clips alone, and the snippets of interview
with the great stars of musical theatre and film, but this really is a
quick and superficial overview of the genre, not really helped by the
constant introductions and interruptions by host Shirley Jones.
Good to see people like Rita Moreno, Shirley MacLaine, Mickey Rooney, and Liza Minnelli discussing their work, but this documentary goes nowhere near deep enough. Given it has such a short running time, that's not surprising, but other documentaries have managed it before ('That's Entertainment' for one).
A bit of a disappointment really, given no new snippets for the musical fan to enjoy and digest, and saying nothing we don't already know. But worth watching as a diversion.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is perfect for a documentary, as far as being the right blend of entertaining and educational! And, another huge highlight of this particular DVD is the fact that it is a high-quality production; visually and audio-ably pristine. Good selection of clips, great selection of interviews, tip-top sights and sounds---a real treat for the senses! I do have one big gripe with it though, and that it seemed to ignore some valid points in favor of some exaggerated points. For example, at one point, it said that Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) was really the first movie-musical in which the songs were part of the story/incorporated into the plot-line (it was said that before that movie, musicals were just a compilation of song and dance numbers on stage). And, Vincent Minnelli is credited with the change. However, accepts that claim as fact obviously knows very little about 1930s musicals! Examples of 1930s musicals in which the songs are incorporated as part of the plot-line development include: Showboat (the original), Love Me Tonight (1932) and That Girl From Paris (1937), just to name a few. Don't get me wrong, I am a big Minnelli fan! Its just that I'm also a big fan of said films, and I think it is a sad injustice for them not to be recognized and given the credit they deserve! Because obviously, they were a bit ahead of their time. Other than that though, this is a five-star documentary, that I would recommend to any classic-film lover!
I love the genre, so I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary. Due to the years covered (1927- 2007) within a limited time span (108 min), omissions are inevitable. But up to the nineties I think the makers did a great job selecting the defining movie musicals of the decades. In their coverage of the nineties, however, they ignore the big screen and turn to the small screen instead, thus saying no movie musicals of any importance were made within the decade, and thereby dismissing Sister Act (1992), Woody Allen's Everyone says I love you (1996) and most curiously Evita (1996), which did well at the box office, won the lead actress a Golden Globe, and was nominated for several Oscars. Maybe it was a matter of not getting the rights to show clips of these movies, but the omission was a disappointment nonetheless.
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