It was on the other night, and I just watched it again after not having seen it for many years.
It stuck me that it is now a double-edged time capsule -- the classic clips, of course, in pristine condition -- but it now has the added poignancy of seeing how many of the hosts have since passed on since 1974 -- Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Donald O'Connor, Peter Lawford, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Jimmy Stewart.
Well, we still have Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds and, against all odds, Liza Minnelli!
A police car and a screaming siren
Pneumatic drill and ripped up concrete
A baby wailing, a stray dog howling
The screech of brakes and lamp lights blinking
(what? oh, never mind)
Loved this when it first came out. I remember I saw it in St. Louis. Of course, before cable,home video and Turner Classic Movies, dthere were not too many opportunities to see many of the musicals unless they were re- released to theaters. So it was really a magical discovery for me
I know... MARY!
I love that film, OP. At my request, my parents took me to see the film on my thirteenth birthday. I was so excited!
But, yes, it is somewhat of a melancholy experience to view the film as an adult and see all of the stars who have left us. Then again, it's also kind of amazing to watch them in middle age and see how incredibly vital and healthy they were at that time. I remember Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire still had some smooth moves. And Liz Taylor looked beautiful.
I also enjoyed watching each of the stars host their respective segment. Back then I didn't know all of the actors but I got a kick out of my parents and the audience reaction as each one of the MGM actors would appear for hosting duties.
HELLO! R6 I had seen most of those musicals on TV many times by the time "That's Entertainment" came out.
Can you say the late show, the 4:30 movie, The Million Dollar Movie...?
R8-I think it depends on where you grow up and what the local stations wanted to pay for their movie packages...
Springfield, Mo is where I grew up. Not a lot of choices. As I said in my post, many studios would reissue their films or sometimes I could catch a classic at the university but that was pretty much it.
My beef with this movie is that the section on Garland isn't nearly as long as the endless sections on Kelly and Astaire. Judy deserved more.
Remember this was before home video and TCM. GWTW and OZ were re-released through the years but unless they turned up on local tv (and few did where I grew up) most of the films were"new" to me and this was my first exposure to them.
Old films and revival houses popped up in the 60s. The 70s were the decade of nostalgia (GREASE on Broadway and AMERICAN GRAFFITI spawned the 50s craze).
A friend and I were actually discussing this once. When our grandparents and parents saw a film, they often saw it only -in it's initial release. Thinking of my grandmother in particular, she probably only saw MEET ME IN ST LOUIS once in her life. Movies really made more of an impression and it seems like they may have lost *something* in terms of much in the same way that OZ was such an annual event for so many generations as it was a once a year showing. As were the Peanuts special, R&H CINDERELLA etc. They seem to have been much more of a collective consciousness of America. I work with people who who do not have a clue whereas when I was little, the day after OZ was on TV, that was all we talked about at school the next day
Also being a child of the 70s, most of those stars, save Garland were still alive and on talk shows, The Academy Awards, still making films. It was my first exposure to them in their heyday and prime. TE and TE II actually helped to make me into the film buff I am.
And I saw them on network tv btw. The network premiere.
Again, when a movie was first shown on Tv it was a big event. When GWTW , THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE GODFATHER were first shown on tv, those were big events .
My favorite section of the film is the part where they show the non-musical Metro stars who were gamely trotted out singing and dancing in the studio's early 1930s musicals.
Especially love Cary Grant crooning to Jean Harlow, Jean Harlow singing Reckless!, Robert Taylor singing I Got a Feelin' You're Foolin', Jimmy Stewart singing Easy to Love to Eleanor Powell, Clark Gable singing Puttin' on the Ritz (and Norma Shearer's hilarious reaction) and, of course, Joan Crawford flailing her arms and legs akimbo to whatever that wacky number was.
Also, it was the first time I was exposed to Eleanor Powell, whose tap-dancing was so thrilling. Sadly, I've tried watching several of her movies since then in their entirety but have come to realize that her tap numbers were the only parts of those films that were worthwhile.
[quote] AMERICAN GRAFFITI spawned the 50s craze
American Graffiti took place in the 60s
The nostalgia craze began with the revival of No No Nanette on Broadway.
We have lost so many real stars over the years. Today's performers seem so disposable or forgettable.
I loved hat's Entertainment, and its sequels. I saw the first two at my local theater, and loved every moment! I was so gay.
As a young teenager I saw it in its premiere engagement at the Ziegfeld. In a word, wow!
I had never even heard of Esther Williams and was blown out of my seat.
I did water ballets in the family pool for many years after, smiling the whole time.
When I was a kid our local cinema used to show free movies on its anniversary. One year it was a double-feature of That's Entertainment Parts One and Two. My mother sent us kids to the one o'clock screening. Four fours and forty minutes later we staggered out into the open, having been entertained to the point of stupefaction. We limped home in the blinding glare of the late afternoon sun. My mother said, "I thought you'd been kidnapped."
RE 12 , and Eleanor Powell - The number that still knocks me out, every time I see it - the b & w photography, the set design, the choreography, and of course, Astaire and Powell, is "Begin The Beguine". I think there is only 1 cut in the continuous take, and thats towards the end . Unbelievable !
Thank you r19 but please call me r12.
I'm bumping this thread because it deserves some attention this weekend.
Arthur Freed's unit
[quote] The number that still knocks me out, every time I see it - the b & w photography, the set design, the choreography, and of course, Astaire and Powell, is "Begin The Beguine". I think there is only 1 cut in the continuous take, and thats towards the end . Unbelievable !
Well Hermes, you must have been spitting nails when Ted Turner got a hold of it and "colorized" it! He put Fred in a powder blue tuxedo and Eleanor in a pink dress.
But I thought everyone knew that in actuality, Eleanor was in powder blue and Fred was in pink.
When the film premiered in Hollywood, EVERYBODY from MGM came. According to the writer of that superb bio of Ava Gardner, she had no intention of going, but was talked into it by Roddy McDowell.
Anyway, the author then added a more melancholy note. Apparently it seems many of the stars had not even watched their own films in many years and as the film progressed, sporadic sobs began to be heard throughout the audience, as one star after another watched their best years, knowing they would never come back.
I thought I remembered hearing at the time of the premiere that Esther Wiliams boycotted the event because she still held some long ago contractual grudge against the studio.
Of course, many people at the time thought her section in the film was one of the highlights.
I also remember hearing that the producers held a special early screening for Norma Shearer but she hated the film and being relegated to just that one take in Idiot's Delight, regardless of the fact that she never made any musicals for MGM. But it was the first I'd ever seen her and it made me seek out her other films.
Washint it fabulush? Momma and Poppa and schow bish.
I have a special fondness for TE3 which really shows the last gasp of MGM in the early 90s, thought the "studio" was non-existent by then.
Though it's hosted by some of the slightly leaser lights of MGM, Cyd Charisse, June Allyson, Ann Miller, Howard Keel, Esther Williams, Lena Horne and repeat appearances by Debbie Reynolds and Mickey Rooney, they all look and sound terrific and strike just the right melancholic tone. Fred Astaire had died by then and Gene Kelly sadly looked like he was about to any day.
My favorite episode in TE3 was a montage of all the gorgeous MGM leading ladies done to Tony Martin's You Stepped Out of a Dream from Ziegfeld Girl. I can't find it on line.....can anyone....and please post it?
I also have a special love for TE3. It has such a nice variety of MGM oddities and Debbie's droll narration sets just the right tone.
"It's been suggested that they may have dropped the wrong version"
[quote]When the film premiered in Hollywood, EVERYBODY from MGM came. According to the writer of that superb bio of Ava Gardner, she had no intention of going, but was talked into it by Roddy McDowell.
Lucy was going to go, but Gary talked her out of it.
Besides I'm sure she was exhausted from making her own movie musical, magnum opus - "Mame".
Watching the anniversary dinner in 1949 is very interesting. Look at how pissed off Lena Horne looks. Lena was always very resentful of the way she was treated at MGM. However I doubt she would've been treated any better at any of the other studios. Another thing in the Babes on Broadway clip, it's shocking to see Judy and Mickey in a blackface number. It's hard to believe how common that repulsive practice was. I wonder if it had to be removed from some prints in 1974?
I remember going as kid, my Mother was a huge musical fan. I was blown away by the Technicolor sequences. The colors were breathtaking. By my youth films were using cheaper film stock. Color By Deluxe! No thanks!
TCM just showed Babes on Broadway this past week and in that minstrel number, which goes on for a long time--it's the finale--EVERYBODY's in blackface. SO if it was ever removed it's now restored. And probably correctly so--it's extremely disturbing and offensive, but as with so much, history shouldn't be scrubbed PC.
The That's Entertainment movies are wonderful indeed. BTW.
Also hilarious if you've ever seen that 1949 clip of the MGM anniversary dinner is watching Judy Garland absolutely REFUSE to turn around from a conversation she's having with the stars in the row behind her even though Fred Astaire and others are obviously telling her the camera is on her and she needs to confront it with her special Metro sparkle.
The event must have been during the making of Easter Parade.
The clip of the dinner (or most probably luncheon) is included in the DVD set of all three That's Entertainments though likely to be found on youtube as well.
Eleanor Powell was pretty amazing, they don't show her movies much so I love the scenes of her in That's Entertainment.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but MGM strangely didn't really have a female pop singing star (like Alice Faye at Fox) to build musical films around in the 1930s....unless you count Jeannette MacDonald, who was hardly pop. Judy Garland wasn't a major star until 1940.
So Eleanor Powell, who was always dubbed when she sang, was their reigning female musical star of the decade.
The beauty of TE I is that you see Astaire and Powell being brilliant and you don't have to watch all of Broadway Melody of 1940.
Just because MacDonald wasn't a pop singing star doesn't mean she wasn't MGM's reigning female musical star of the decade, r38. Wasn't she a bigger star than Powell? I believe her operettas were making more money than Powell movies, and Powell wasn't starring opposite Clark Gable in prestige blockbusters like SAN FRANCISCO.
Hey Debbie Reynolds had a number one hit with "Tammy" and she's still kicking!
That was a 1957 Universal-International release.
I didn't mean to imply MacDonald wasn't a huge star at MGM at that time r40. But she mostly sang opera or operetta. Even when she sang the title tune in San Francisco, she trilled it like it was written by Romberg or Strauss.
I just think it's strange that MGM didn't promote a female, or for that matter a male, singing star of contemporary pop music (Berlin, Porter, Gershwin, etc.) to build their big budget musicals around, like Bing Crosby at Paramount or Alice Faye at Fox.
It seemed LB Mayer was more intent to miscast his non-singing stars into singing roles to introduce the hits of the day until Judy Garland grew up.
Except for the creepy minstel 'jokes', the Judy/Mickey blackface in BABES ON BROADWAY doesn't bother me one bit. Once you accept the fact that blackface is a dead historical theatrical convention you can thoroughly enjoy the number staged with breathtaking flair by Busby Berkeley - his photography of Judy's "Frankin D. Roosevelt Jones" coupled with her glorious singing ("My friends...my friends...Lets all shout HOOOORAAAAY!") makes it one of her most thrilling film musical numbers.
Now, if you want to be truly offended by something, try the Walter Lantz cartoon "Scrub Me Mama With A Boogie Beat". It's the most nauseating racist film ever to come out of Hollywood.
That's a very astute observation, r43. A good question indeed.
I remember sitting through THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! ("Boy, Do We Need It Now.") twice at my local cinema in Long Island suburbia. For a young teen who only knew these films from television it was a revelation seeing them projected on a huge movie screen. I was particularly awestruck by Eleanor Powell, Ann Miller and Esther Williams whom I was not that familiar with.
I agree with the poster who noted that there wasn't enough Judy. I hated that so many of the numbers were represented by snippets instead of in their entirety. But I would have stayed three times to see "Get Happy" again.
I returned later that week with my bulky cassette tape recorder to capture my favorite numbers.
I HATED "That's Entertainment" 2, though. It was padded out with all that painful Astaire-Kelly shtick, lame comedy and not enough musical numbers.
TE3 has a fascinating look at the filming of an Eleanor Powell number from a separate camera actually "filming the filming" of the number. You can see the stagehands wheeling away parts of the set as she taps across them. All so quiet, so silently. You see the camera keep dollying in on her, above the business below of the sections being wheeled away so as to keep the entire thing in one long continuous shot. Absolutely fascinating to watch. I believe the song she is tapping to is Fascinating Rhythm? Anyone know?
I found it. Go to the 2:00 minute mark. Ignore the subtitle thingies. It's Fascinating Rhythm from Lady Be Good, 1941.
I have a box set of That's Entertainment that I bought for like $10 when the Union Square Virgin Megastore went out of business (Sigh...)
A special feature somewhere on it is the That's Entertainment premiere. It's a total hoot, Sammy Davis Jr and Liza, are totally high and introducing all of the "legends." It's amazing.
I don't feel bad when I watch TE that so many of the hosts are dead. Most of those people lived well into their 80s which for that generation AT THAT time was pretty decent.
Eleanor Powell died at the age of 70, too young even by the standards of 1992. She sadly missed seeing her films hitting the vhs market, which brought renewed popularity to many old stars. That being said, her biggest star vehicle (ROSALIE) is virtually unwatchable today - except for that big number, of course.
Peter Lawford was so dreamy in clips opposite Judy and June back in the day but looks seriously debauched in TE1 in his early 1970s drag, introducing an Elizabeth Taylor clip, in which he says she had to be dubbed because she was "too busy" to really record the number.
Re the unwatchability of Eleanor Powell's films beyond her big dance numbers, I would venture the opinion that almost all of MGM's 1930s musicals have huge book problems that are only saved by a few brilliant production numbers in each.
It wasn't until the 1940s that the Arthur Freed Unit and then later, the Joe Pasternak Unit, seemed to get it all together and produce the fully classic musical films we so fondly remember.
[quote]It's hard to believe how common that repulsive practice was. I wonder if it had to be removed from some prints in 1974?
No, they are not removed, because most adults, once they unclutch their pearls realize that it was simply a popular entertainment construct for about 90 years in America, and sort of just get over it. Children don't care at all.
[quote]SO if it was ever removed it's now restored.
The previous poster wondered if the Minstrel Show number was removed from some prints of THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT, not if it was removed from BABES ON BROADWAY. It can't be cut from the original film because it comprises almost the entirety of the Grand Finale to which the whole film has been building. Incidentally, the last sweeping shot of the Minstrels on the staircase was used in the opening credits of PHYLLIS, where it was psychedelically re-colored to obscure the use of black-face.
For what it's worth, the Minstrel Show is framed with an opening in which Judy and Mickey decide that they should do something old-fashioned. That doesn't make it any less offensive, but at least it shows an awareness that such material was outdated even in 1941.
Mickey Rooney's banjo solo while in black-face is genuinely impressive. He really played it and played it well. It's a pity the didn't find a different way to showcase that particular talent of his. Between this film and his portrayal of the Japanese landlord in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S he is the cinematic disgrace of two continents.
AND he's still alive, so let's address our complaints directly to him.
R53, they had to insert that opening with Mickey and Judy "in which they decide to do something old fashioned" because test audiences could not tell it was Judy and Mickey in blackface! I read somewhere that the scenes where they are talking about doing something old fashioned and applying the blackface were filmed and added after the fact due to the lackluster audience reaction to the finale. It was surmised that this was because it was not readily apparent that it was Garland and Rooney.
That is kind of funny, R55. I am imagining slow-witted older people in the test audiences looking at Rooney and Garland and wondering which one was Jolson and which one was Cantor and what a nice surprise it was to see them both turn up in the finale.
Doesn't Judy barely look any different? As I remember, she is more in "tropical" makeup than full-on blackface - seems very hard to believe that audiences didn't recognize her.
They were shell-shocked from news of the war in Europe, r57.
No, R57, Judy is as blacked-up as Al Jolson down on one knee singing "Mammy" at the Palace.