That's Entertainment! (1974)
Liza Minnelli: Thank God for film. It can capture a performance and hold it right there forever. And if anyone says to you, "Who was he?" or, "Who was she?" or, "What made them so good?" I think a piece of film answers that question better than any words I know of.
Frank Sinatra: [narrating] The year is 1929; the singer, Cliff Edwards, also known as Ukelele Ike. The film: "Hollywood Revue"; it is the first all-talking, all-singing, all-dancing movie ever made. In the years that followed, "Singin' in the Rain" would become a theme song for MGM.
Frank Sinatra: Through the years, MGM has produced over 200 musical films. And if you had to select one number from one film, that would best represent the MGM musicals, I have a feeling that the vote would be unanimous, especially among the people who worked here, and that's why we've saved the best for the last: "An American in Paris," starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. It won an Oscar as the Best Picture of the year over 20 years ago; but the ballet from that film is as timeless as the day you and I first saw it. Produced by Arthur Freed, directed by Vincente Minnelli, and choreographed by Gene Kelly, it can only be described as MGM's masterpiece.
Frank Sinatra: Musicals were fantasy trips for the audiences of their day. For instance, boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy sings a song and gets girl. The plots were that simple.
Title Card: Over the years, under the leadership of Louis B. Mayer and others, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has produced a series of musical films whose success and artistic merit remain unsurpassed in motion picture history. There were literally thousands of people... artists, craftsmen and technicians... who poured their talents into the creation of the great MGM musicals. This film is dedicated to them.
Frank Sinatra: The musicals of the 1930s and '40s or even the '50s may not have told you where our heads were at, but they certainly would tell you where our hearts were at.
Frank Sinatra: All of this lovable nonsense began back in 1929 when the silent film had suddenly become a thing of the past, and sound was the king. "Broadway Melody of 1929" won an Oscar for the Best Picture that year, and MGM was off and running with a new formula for success. Charles King and a line of slightly overweight chorus girls were the beginning of a new motion picture art form that would captivate audiences for years to come.
[at the end of the Esther Williams segment]
Donald O'Connor: Eat your heart out, Mark Spitz!
Frank Sinatra: Its been quite some time since I first came to this place and MGM is certainly not the same studio and Hollywood's not the same town. But, the films we made here are still around.
Frank Sinatra: Some studios can claim they made the finest gangster films or the greatest horror movies, but when it came to musicals - MGM - they were the champions.
Frank Sinatra: You know, you can wait around and hope, but, I'll tell ya, you'll never see the likes of this again.
Elizabeth Taylor: I was 10 years old when I first came to MGM - and I spent most of the next 18 years of my life behind the walls of that studio. As a young girl growing up, in that strange place, its hard to recall what was real and what wasn't. Perhaps my most vivid memories were of MGM musicals. Just to stand there on the set and watch the singing and the dancing, it was like a fantasy come true. Total innocence. Loveliness.
Elizabeth Taylor: What wonderful years those were at MGM. One day, I remember meeting a terribly handsome young man from England. He just started working at the studio. Naturally, I fell wildly in love with him. I still adore him. He's still one of my closest and dearest friends: Peter Lawford.
Peter Lawford: The studio pretty much told us - what pictures we were going appear in. They put us in dramas, comedies and, in my case, and don't ask me why, an occasional musical. As a singer or dancer, I was ill equipped to compete with Astaire or Kelly. But, we did what we were told to do.
Peter Lawford: When I first came to MGM the world was at war. With the GIs overseas and the audience here at home, the musicals were a very special kind of an escape - both during the war and afterwards.
Peter Lawford: The films we made here had a certain style. A look that was unmistakable. Whether it was the directing or the writing or the scenery, the costumes, the lighting, I don't really know. But, somehow you could always tell that it was an MGM movie, especially the musicals.
Jimmy Stewart: In the late 1920s and early 30s, these 200 acres of real estate were a scene of panic. Pandemonium. Sound pictures had replaced silent films virtually over night. The only actor in town that wasn't worried was Rin Tin Tin. As long as he could bark, well, sound was no threat to him.
Jimmy Stewart: Musicals were the most popular commodity in the early 30s and they were cranked out at an incredible rate. Most of them really weren't very good. But, if audiences suffered, they didn't complain. The real victims were the dramatic actors. The studio pushed nearly everyone of them into musical roles.
Jimmy Stewart: I was lucky enough to sing a Cole Porter song in "Born to Dance" with Eleanor Powell. At first the studio planned to have someone else record the vocal. But, the tune became such a big hit that they decided to let me do it. You see, they figured the song was so good that even my singing couldn't hurt it.
Mickey Rooney: [Referring to Judy Garland] Judy and I became close friends when we did a series of films together that the studio called "backyard musicals." Audiences seemed to love the pictures, even though the plots were suspiciously alike. Only our names seemed to change.
Gene Kelly: When you dance with Fred Astaire, you really have to be on your toes. This number from "Ziegfield Follies" was the only time we had a chance to work together. But, I'd change my name to Ginger if we could do it again.
Gene Kelly: [Referring to Fred Astaire] Because of his ingenuity and precision, audiences never realized how much incredible effort Fred poured into his work. He made it appear so easy. In "Royal Wedding", Fred danced with a hat rack. And, as usual, he made his partner look good.
Gene Kelly: Fred Astaire was and is a unique talent. There'll never be another like him and - that's what I love about our profession. Cause every so often there's an artist comes along who is impossible to compare with anyone else.
Donald O'Connor: MGM seemed to acquire talent the way you and I pick up paper clips - by the handful.
Debbie Reynolds: When I first reported to the studio, MGM was celebrating its 25th anniversary. They had converted the biggest sound stage on the lot into a restaurant. They only served one meal but it was a lunch that old timers still talk about. The studio used to boast that it had more stars than there are in the heavens and that day they weren't kidding.
Debbie Reynolds: The first time I met the King, Clark Gable, he looked down at me and said, "Hello, beautiful" and I nearly fainted. This place was the land of giants and I was a small fry, but, like any other young hopeful, I was determined that somehow, someday I'd measure up.
Debbie Reynolds: I remember something else I learned at the studio during my stay there. MGM's motto: Do it big. Do it right. And give it class.
Fred Astaire: I have a great many fond memories about this place. So many happy moments here worrying about whether or not we were getting the job done. What fun.
Fred Astaire: [Referring to Gene Kelly] He was determined to broaden the horizons of the film musical and in doing so he become one of the most versatile and original performers the movies have ever known.
Fred Astaire: Kelly was forever breaking rules. Though the studio often tried to stop him, Gene insisted on doing his own stunts. His bosses always seemed to find out about it after the scene had been shot.
Liza Minnelli: Mama once told me MGM seemed obsessed with Shirley Temple. They even offered 20th Century Fox, Jean Harlow and Clark Gable just to get Temple for a certain picture Metro was preparing. But, the deal fell through. So, MGM finally went ahead with the picture and let Mama play the role of Dorothy - in "The Wizard of Oz".