Saturday, 29 August 2015

That's Entertainment (1974)

I really like the That's Entertainment series because I love musical numbers but have trouble watching an entire musical movie which I, with a few exceptions, find boring beyond belief.

Introduced by some proper, full-on stars including Frank Sinatra, Liz Taylor, Jimmy Stewart and Bing Crosby, this film celebrates MGM musicals and the studio system that produced them. A system where an actor signed a long-term contract that tied them to a particular studio which expected most performers to be able sing and dance as well as act. These musicals contained so many actors, extras and huge elaborate sets, they could only have ever been made within the studio system. This system may have had many faults but at least we have the films to make up for them.

From huge and extravagantly choreographed numbers, through Ester Williams' synchronised water performances to the intimate Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers duets, That's Entertainment has it all and contains clips of the wonderful Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Bing CrosbyCyd Charisse, Leslie Caron, and many, many others.

Highlights include Fred Astaire dancing with a hat-stand, a huge MGM dinner with the largest number of movie stars you'll ever see in one shot, Frank and Bing performing Cole Porter's 'Well, Did You Evah!' from High Society, Danny Kaye's comedic 'Make 'em Laugh' routine, the entire Judy Garland sequence, and Gene Kelly... just doing what Gene Kelly does best.

If there is one down point, it's the clip from Gigi, the plot of which always makes me feel uncomfortable and the song 'Thank Heaven for Little Girls' even more so.

Even if you don't enjoy musicals I recommend that you give That's Entertainment a go. I guarantee it'll put a smile on your face.

Funny fact: apparently Fred Astaire's MGM screen test noted that he: "Can't sing. Can't act. Balding. Can dance a little".

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