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THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT! (director/writer: Jack Haley, Jr.; cinematographers: Gene Polito, Ernest Laszlo, Russell Metty, Ennio Guarnieri & Allan Green; editors: David Blewitt/Bud Friedgen; music: Henry Mancini; narrators: Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, Peter Lawford, Liza Minnelli, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, James Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor; Runtime: 132; MPAA Rating: G; producers: Jack Haley, Jr./Daniel Melnick; MGM/Warner Bros.; 1974)
“Pleasingly sentimental.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

For MGM’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1974 it presents a film clip compilation of numbers from some of its great musicals that date from 1929 to 1958. MGM was rightfully known for its classy style and in producing Hollywood’s best musicals. The result was the most popular That’s Entertainment! which renewed interest in MGM’s musicals with the public; it was directed by Jack Haley Jr., as he takes us through the musicals by using MGM stars such as Frank Sinatra, Liz Taylor, Jimmy Stewart, Mickey Rooney, Liza Minnelli, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire as narrators. It begins in 1929 when the talkies took over the industry and the musical was spawned with films like the Hollywood Revue (MGM’s first all-sound movie) and The Broadway Melody. It features such great musicals as Singin’ in the Rain, High Society, Gigi, Meet Me in St. Louis, and An American in Paris. My favorite pieces were Clark Gable dancing to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” in Idiot’s Delight, Jimmy Durante mentoring the young Frank Sinatra in “It Happened in Brooklyn,” the energetic woodchopper’s dance from “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and Judy Garland merrily going down the Yellow Brick Road in “The Wizard of Oz.”

This type of film doesn’t do much for me, but it gives one a refresher course in seeing snippets from the greatest musicals. If nostalgia for the Hollywood musical is your cup of tea, then this one is pleasingly sentimental as it covers many of the over 200 musicals MGM produced during that period.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”