A documentary about the glorious history of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and its decline leading to the sale of its back lot and props. By extension this provides a general history of Hollywood's Golden Age and the legendary studio system.
MGM Studios, which was formed the result of a merger between Metro Pictures (owned by the Loews Company) and the Goldwyn Company, was the premier Hollywood movie studio from the mid 1920's to the end of the 1950's, when a court ruling dissolved the close association between movie studios and movie theaters leading to the end of the studio system that controlled what happened in Hollywood, and when television became a rival form of accessible entertainment. Led by Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg but not with obstacles, MGM was the best of the studios at perpetuating the dream that anything was possible, both in front of the cameras and in the lives of Hollywood royalty, namely the movie stars. Within a generation, movies became the largest money making form of entertainment. The public went to see movies in droves even during the depression, wanted to learn about and be close to the personal lives of the Hollywood rich and famous, and aspired to be part of that Hollywood royalty.Written by
Dick Cavett - Narrator:
Once upon a time, in the place called California, there was an enchanted kingdom. It was said the streets were paved with gold and it was inhabited by gods and goddesses, sorcerers and elves, wise men, jesters, and kings. For three decades the kingdom flourished, it was loved, for it offered human multitudes a rare and precious gift - escape from the mortal coil into wondrous flights of fantasy.
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Anyone who criticizes "Hollywood: The Dream Factory" is naively unaware of the effort it took to get MGM to open its vault to allow filmmakers Irwin Rosten and Nicholas Noxon to make this remarkable compilation documentary. Seasoned by working on the "Hollywood and the Stars" TV series for producer David L. Wolper, Rosten and Noxon brought their expertise to a then-ailing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. They used the framing device of the MGM auction to flash back to the studio's heyday, offering a concise capsule of the studio's corporate history with a startlingly wry description of its artistic achievements. Having Dick Cavett narrate, and Fred Foy announce, the program begins with a deliciously witty faux trailer that not only sends up every preview ever produced but lets the viewer know that this will be no paean to M, G, or M (in contrast with the bloated, sycophantic 1992 Turner production "MGM: When the Lion Roars").
It's important to remember that, when this film was made, nobody was getting access to studio vaults, especially MGM's, which then had the golden library. Indeed, the success of "Hollywood: The Dream Factory" doubtless gave the studio the idea to go ahead with "That's Entertainment!," made by another Wolper alumnus, Jack Haley, Jr.
"Hollywood: The Dream Factory" is that rare clip documentary with a personality. Picture quality is first-rate, the modern footage is shot by John A. Alonzo ("Chinatown," "Sounder"), and the script maintains a wise balance between nostalgia and pragmatism. It can be found among the special features on the two-disc DVD of "Meet Me in St. Louis," and it also turns up on TCM now and then.
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