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This is more a talking heads informative piece than anything else, and
quite competent in that department, setting up an excellent 2 hour
overview of what each studio contributed to the genre; the clips shown
are mainly taken from theatrical previews (trailers, as they were known
then) and are of varying quality and mostly familiar.
On the plus side, how often do you see Bobby Breen mentioned when it comes to child stars? Everyone knows about Garland and Temple, Rooney and Deanna Durbin, but little Bobby was RKO's answer to Little Miss Shirley Temple, and although nowhere near her equal, was a big draw for the studio, making a series of kiddie films in which he co-starred with the likes of Basil Rathbone and May Robson (and Sammy The Seal in Fisherman's Wharf!)--details like this make this a worthwhile semi-documentary--two hours is better than none!
A few months back, I watched and enjoyed "That's Entertainment!" as
well as its two followup films. These films were compilations of the
song and dance numbers from many, many MGM films. And, while MGM was
perhaps the greatest studio when it came to musicals, these films were
wonderful BUT woefully incomplete. Wonderful musicals by RKO, 20th
Century-Fox, Warner Brothers and other studios were ignored--and
"Hollywood Singing and Dancing: A Musical History" attempts to give a
more thorough examination of the musical--and I appreciate that.
However, it sure is a tall order! In this particular installment, "The
1930s: Dancing Away the Great Depression", films from this decade alone
are examined. The films of such celebrities as Eddie Cantor, Fred
Astaire, Bing Crosby, Ruby Keeler and many others are discussed. On
hand as host is Shirley Jones as well as many interviews with
celebrities of the era--many of which have passed away since this DVD
The compilation has a few minor problems. There are no DVD or closed captions, the film's length is too short to cover all these films and stars and some of the films shown are not identified while some are--which frustrates film fiends like myself. However, the clips they used were generally in very good conditions and it was very nice to see so many old time stars. Well worth seeing.
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