THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! (1974) C widescreen 132m dir: Jack Haley Jr.
w/Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, Peter Lawford, Liza Minnelli, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, James Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, June Allyson, Kay Armen, Ray Bolger, Virginia Bruce, Jack Buchanan, Leslie Caron, Carlton Carpenter, Cyd Charisse, Maurice Chevalier, Joan Crawford, Virginia Dale, Vic Damone, Jimmy Durante, Deanna Durbin, Buddy Ebsen, Nelson Eddy, Cliff Edwards, Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Kathryn Grayson, Virginia Grey, Jack Haley, Jean Harlow, Bernadene Hayes, Lena Horne, Lottice Howell, Van Johnson, Allan Jones, Louis Jourdan, Howard Keel, Charles King, Lorraine Krueger, Bert Lahr, Mario Lanza, Jeanette MacDonald, Joan Marsh, Tony Martin, Douglas McPhail, Ann Miller, Robert Montgomery, Natalie Moorhead, Dennis Morgan, Jules Munshin, Fayard Nicholas, Harold Nicholas, Margaret O'Brien, Eleanor Powell, Jane Powell, Ginger Rogers, Paula Stone, Russ Tamblyn, William Warfield, Esther Williams, Leon Ames, Edward Arnold, Ethel Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Joe E. Brown, Xavier Cugat, Arlene Dahl, Lili Damita, Gloria DeHaven, Errol Flynn, Betty Garrett, Greer Garson, Hermione Gingold, Van Heflin, Katharine Hepburn, Claude Jarman Jr., Jennifer Jones, Buster Keaton, Angela Lansbury, Carmen Miranda, Agnes Moorehead, Frank Morgan, George Murphy, Conrad Nagel, J. Carrol Naish, Reginald Owen, Walter Pidgeon, Selena Royle, Norma Shearer, Red Skelton, Sidney Toler, Audrey Totter, Spencer Tracy, Robert Young
From Variety's contemporary review of the film: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer celebrated its 50th anniversary with That's Entertainment!, an outstanding, stunning, sentimental, exciting, colorful, enjoyable, spirit-lifting, tuneful, youthful, invigorating, zesty, respectful, dazzling and richly satisfying feature documentary commemorating its filmusicals.
"As Liza Minnelli puts it in her narrated segment (among 11 names appearing in new footage and film clip voiceover), 'Thank God for film. It can capture and hold a performance forever.'
"From the musical library, about 100 films were selected from the 1929 - 58 era, enough to satisfy nearly every memory. Each segment has a particular theme (usually film highlights of a particular star); and each has its narrator. Minnelli appears in the portion devoted to her mother, Judy Garland."
From the website www.notcoming.com, this 2004 review of the film by Matt Bailey:
"In the days before cable television and home video, the opportunity to see the great MGM musicals came along rarely. If you got really lucky, you might be able to catch one on a weekend afternoon, otherwise you usually had to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to watch them on the late, late show. Those who were extremely lucky lived in a city large enough to support a repertory cinema where the occasional musical would be programmed among all of the films deemed much cooler by the hipster who ran the joint. Movie musicals were not exactly hot stuff in the early 1970s as American seemed more concerned with gritty crime dramas and gangster epics. Nevertheless, in the midst of all this, producers Daniel Melnick (the same guy who produced Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs) and Jack Haley, Jr. (son of the Tin Man and husband #2 of Liza Minnelli), put together, in honor of MGM’s fiftieth anniversary, an assembly of clips from nearly 100 MGM musicals and linked them together with new vignettes of reminiscences by MGM stars Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, Peter Lawford (looking more like a desiccated Peter Fonda than the louchely handsome figure of the 1950s), Liza, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, James Stewart, and Elizabeth Taylor (in a ghastly array of turquoise jewelry).
"The film starts, as it should, at the beginning. The first clip is from 1929's The Hollywood Revue, MGM's first all-sound movie. The song being performed is 'Singin’ in the Rain,' a tune composed by Arthur Freed that most people know from the 1952 musical of the same name that was a tribute to Freed, who had become the producer of most of MGM’s musical spectaculars. The clips that follow are in roughly chronological order until certain of the biggest stars (Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Esther Williams) are under discussion. It’s then that we get mini-retrospectives of their careers.
"Even though there are clips from dozens of films, the film can in no way be representative of all the musicals of MGM. They are, after all, only clips --- taken out of the context of their original films, truncated, talked over, and intercut with other footage. That's Entertainment! cannot and is not a substitute for seeing the musicals themselves, in their entirety. It is perhaps best viewed as an introduction to the great musicals (a sort of primer for the uninitiated) or as a hits-only collection to be used much like a fan of a certain band would a greatest hits CD, even though he has all of the albums the band ever released.
"In 1976, after the original That's Entertainment! had become a surprise success, a second film, That's Entertainment, Part 2, was created. While another film of more of the same from the first film might have been just as successful, the producers of the sequel decided to expand the scope to include not just clips from musicals but from all of MGM’s great films of the classic era. Thus, alongside musical numbers from some of the same films that were in the first installment (though no clips are repeated) as well as from films not covered there, we have clips from the films of the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, Clark Gable, and Greta Garbo. This time around, the hosts are limited to Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, who perform in new musical numbers created specifically for the film. These are a little embarrassing as Fred and Gene are well past it by this point. Astaire looks as if he has just rolled out of his tomb, and Kelly sports a toupee that looks borrowed from Howard Cosell for the occasion.
"While Part 2 is just about as good as the original (after all, it rests on the strength of the considerable power of its clips), it is clear that MGM would have suffered diminishing returns with a third installment. It did come along years later, however, in 1994. The third time around was a little different from the first two since home video and cable had made all of the MGM musicals readily available. In That's Entertainment! III, the clips all come from famous films featuring famous stars, but most are musical numbers that were cut from the finished film. In some ways, it is not a third installment in the series as much as it is a parallel history of the MGM musical. Gene Kelly is back for a third time in his hosting duties, but is joined by stars just as important to the MGM musical, but overlooked in the first two films including Lena Horne, Howard Keel, June Allyson, and Cyd Charisse (still a knockout at 73).
"As a huge fan of the original musicals, it can almost be frustrating to watch these compilations (one really can’t call them documentaries). The extremely brief clip from The Pirate in That's Entertainment! is thrilling, but the full number --- as well as the entire film --- remains, sadly, unavailable on DVD. [As of 2021, THE PIRATE is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Amazon.com.] The same pertains to many of the films featured in these three movies, so the clips are the only existent footage of them on home video, save for rare airings on Turner Classic Movies. Even if I were a more casual fan of MGM’s musicals, I doubt I would watch That's Entertainment! (or its sequels) more than a few times. The experience of watching it is akin to gorging on exquisite candy—highly enjoyable and very sweet, but ultimately unsatisfying and sorely lacking in substance."