7.7/10
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49 user 23 critic

That's Entertainment! (1974)

Various MGM stars from yesterday present their favourite musical moments from the studio's 50 year history.

Director:

Jack Haley Jr.

Writer:

Jack Haley Jr.
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2 wins. See more awards »

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More Like This 

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Some of MGM's musical stars review the studio's history of musicals. From The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929) to Brigadoon (1954), from the first musical talkies to Gene Kelly in Singin' in ... See full summary »

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Certificate: 18 Drama | Family | Musical
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Fred Astaire ... Himself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clip from 'The Band Wagon'
Bing Crosby ... Himself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clip from 'Going Hollywood'
Gene Kelly ... Himself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clips from 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' - 'Singin' in the Rain' and 'An American in Paris'
Peter Lawford ... Himself - Co-Host / Narrator - Clip from 1947 version of 'Good News'
Liza Minnelli ... Herself - Co-Host & Narrator
Donald O'Connor ... Himself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clip from 'Singin' in the Rain'
Debbie Reynolds ... Herself - Co-Host / Narrator
Mickey Rooney ... Himself - Co-Host / Narrator / Clips from 'Babes in Arms' - 'Girl Crazy' - 'Babes on Broadway'
Frank Sinatra ... Himself - Co-Host
James Stewart ... Himself - Co-Host
Elizabeth Taylor ... Herself - Co-Hostess / Narrator / Clip from 'Cynthia'
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
June Allyson ... Clip from 'Words and Music' (archive footage)
Kay Armen Kay Armen ... Clip from 'Hit the Deck' (archive footage)
Ray Bolger ... Clips from 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'The Harvey Girls' (archive footage)
Virginia Bruce ... Clip from 'The Great Ziegfeld' (archive footage)
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Storyline

MGM musical numbers from the introduction of sound in the late '20s through to the 1950s, possibly with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Judy Garland getting the most coverage. Linked by some of the stars who worked at MGM handing the commentary on one to another. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Boy. Do we need it now. See more »


Certificate:

AL | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 December 1975 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Érase una vez en Hollywood See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,200,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$26,890,200
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints)| Mono (35 mm optical prints)| 70 mm 6-Track

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Norma Shearer made an agitated phone call to MGM senior executive Paul Rosenfeld, insisting that her reaction shots to Clark Gable's 'Puttin' on the Ritz' (from Idiot's Delight (1939)) be deleted. Unfortunately, it was too late to make any changes and the shots remained in the film. Shearer explained to Rosenfeld in a letter, "I am presented as no more than an extra without screen credit while others who are dancers and singers perform triumphantly as stars of this production." When Rosenfeld offered to arrange a screening for Shearer, she declined saying, "I would be devastated to see myself as such an insignificant part of the whole...It is a little too late to do anything now except to express to you my wounded pride." See more »

Goofs

In the "Melody of Spring" sequence from Cynthia, narrator Elizabeth Taylor self-deprecatingly remarks that she "was certainly no threat to Judy Garland or Jane Powell." In fact, Taylor's singing was dubbed in the film, a point emphasized when she turns up ten minutes later in 'That's Entertainment!' with an entirely different voice in the "It's a Most Unusual Day" sequence from A Date with Judy. In this case, narrator Peter Lawford claims, "That isn't Elizabeth's voice you're hearing. MGM kept her too busy to rehearse and record." See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Producer Jack Haley Jr.'s credit appears over a still image of his father, Jack Haley, as the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. See more »

Alternate Versions

Some TV prints show the 1951 "Show Boat" segment in cropped widescreen, when in fact the film was made in a "regular" aspect ratio (non-widescreen). Widescreen did not really come along until 1953, although Cinerama did premiere in 1952. See more »

Connections

Features Dangerous When Wet (1953) See more »

Soundtracks

Reckless
(1935) (uncredited)
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Performed by Jean Harlow and others
From Reckless (1935)
See more »

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User Reviews

A Mixture of Nostalgia and Self-Congratulation
14 August 2009 | by JamesHitchcockSee all my reviews

In a departure from my normal practice, I will not be awarding "That's Entertainment!"a mark out of ten. There seems little point in rating a film when ninety percent of it consists of clips taken from other films. This film is not a straightforward documentary history of the Hollywood musical. It was made by MGM as a celebration of MGM musicals, and studiously ignores anything made by that studio's rivals. Clips of song-and-dance numbers from some of those musicals are introduced by a number of the stars who appeared in them, such as Debbie Reynolds, Frank Sinatra and Mickey Rooney.

This compilation was probably made because of the way the cinema was changing in the mid-seventies. Although the early part of the decade had seen two particularly fine examples in "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Cabaret", by 1974 the traditional cinema musical was on the decline. There was also a move away from shooting on sets towards shooting on location. Some of the introductory scenes are shot where the musicals themselves were filmed, on MGM's famous backlot which, by 1974, was starting to look very shabby and dilapidated. (It was to be demolished for redevelopment shortly afterwards).

The first part of the film was not particularly interesting, largely because so many of the featured clips were taken from films which are now forgotten and even thirty-five years ago were probably little-known. I also wondered why so much attention was given to Esther Williams, who certainly looked good in a swimsuit but was a very limited actress and whose choreographed water-ballets must have looked hopelessly cheesy by the seventies. One thing that I did learn, however, is that the musical genre was so popular in the thirties and forties that many actors, who today would not be thought of as musical stars, were press-ganged into service, regardless of vocal talent (or the lack thereof). We therefore see clips of the likes of James Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford and Clark Gable performing in some very obscure old films. (Stewart and Taylor also serve as presenters). Of these, it is Gable who acquits himself with the greatest honour, but his musical career never took off, apparently because his fans felt that all that singing and dancing was a bit sissy and out of keeping with his he-man image.

Things liven up in the second half of the film, because it now starts to concentrate on the really famous musicals for which MGM is still remembered today. The smug, self-congratulatory tone is still present, but the studio can be forgiven a little self-congratulation when it is talking about films as good as "Show Boat", "Seven Brides for "Seven Brothers", "An American in Paris" and "Singin' in the Rain". These last two, of course, both starred Gene Kelly, who also acts as a presenter. Kelly and Fred Astaire, with their very different styles of dancing, were often perceived as rivals, so it was a good idea to have Kelly present a tribute to Astaire and Astaire present one to Kelly. The most moving moment comes when Liza Minnelli presents a tribute to her mother, Judy Garland, who had died a few years earlier.

"That's Entertainment!" was obviously popular, because it was followed two years later by "That's Entertainment II"". (There were to be two more similar compilations, "That's Dancing!" in the eighties and "That's Entertainment III" in the nineties). The appeal of films like this at the time was probably their nostalgia value for the older generation who could remember the original musicals. Today they seem more like a curiosity, albeit an entertaining one.


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