This is the least-known of all the 'That's Entertainment!' series, because it's a direct-to-video production from Turner. While it's not completely a waste of time, the first three movies seem to have skimmed off most of MGM's real riches.
High spots include Nancy Walker performing 'Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet!'from 1944's 'Broadway Rhythm', and Debbie Reynolds and Bob Fosse doing 'In Our United State' from 1953's 'Give a Girl a Break'. There's also the little-known 'Dynamite' from 1951's 'Texas Carnival', with Ann Miller tapping up her usual storm; Miller re-appears in one of the screen's all-time frolics- 'Prehistoric Man' from 1949's revered 'On The Town'. A real rarity is Van Johnson singing 'You Can't Do Wrong Doin' Right' from 1950's 'Duchess of Idaho'; Connie Haines is one of the singers in the number, and it's a little gem.
But there's a bog of stuff that wasn't much when it was new, and isn't any great shakes in revival, like Lena Horne's lugubrious and interminable 'Love' from 1946's 'Ziegfeld Follies', where Lena also looks less than her usual luscious self. The same film yields a clip of Kathryn Grayson trilling 'There's Beauty Everywhere', while a bunch of 1940's starlets strike haughty, static poses against a Dali-ish backdrop before the setting is filled with soap bubbles (I am NOT making this up). There are also two minor numbers from 1950's 'Summer Stock', which have Judy Garland in not-so-great voice, and she's twenty pounds heavier in one than she is in the other.
For sheer, mesmerising AWFULNESS, it's impossible to beat Mickey Rooney and Garland in the sequence from 1940's 'Strike Up the Band'. It's called 'Do the La Conga', and it goes on for what seems like months, with Mickey and Judy clearly exhausted and spastic from the number's extraordinary length, and what must have been multitudinous takes demanded by director Busby Berkeley. His legendary cries of 'EYES! I wanna see your EYES!' are obviously being heeded by Judy, who keeps snapping hers open to Groucho Marx proportions, even as she staggers through the choreography. This number may have passed for entertainment in a more innocent era, but in light of what we now know about Garland's experiences at Berkeley's hands, it's highly discomfiting to watch today.
Still, this compilation is worth at least one viewing; some of the numbers are seldom-seen, and shouldn't be, like the clip of the DeMarco Sisters singing, 'What Good Is a Girl Without a Guy?' from 1952's 'Skirts Ahoy'. Their infectious, lusty harmonies and their special brand of Brooklyn hip brought a breath of fresh air to that Esther Williams programmer, and all these years later, the song does the same thing for this slightly tired movie.
Rent it before buying, and be grateful for the fast-forward on your video machine, but this one will still fill a pleasant hour or so.
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