That’s Entertainment II & III

Double-feature on Turner Classic! Part two has mostly-good somewhat-exciting clips from MGM musicals introduced by Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Kelly directed the lame host segments, where he and Fred walk around some giant colorful shapes and dodgy video effects (and also tromp through Paris for a while). Whole thing is quite wholesome. It’s not all musical numbers – there’s a clip from A Night at the Opera and tributes to Frank Sinatra and Hepburn/Tracy – just a big nostalgic lovefest

Things learned:
– Eleanor Powell is pretty amazing.
– Anything with Judy Garland has gotta be worth watching.
– I like Jimmy Durante.
Cabin in the Sky looks good.

Apparently I was wrong in thinking these MGM musicals were on TV all the time in the 70’s, but they certainly were in the 90’s when part III came out, so they spiced it up with behind-the-scenes shots, scenes from rare films and scenes cut from more popular films. Very good idea, and the selections are given better setup with more historical context, making the whole thing seem less random. Written and directed by the editing team of the first two movies. Guess I always wondered why J. Rosenbaum picked part III of this series for his great films list without I or II, but the first two are merely compilations of film moments so if you have access to the source films there’s very little of value there. Part III is full of original content… an alternate camera angle on a dance number showing how the set was deconstructed mid-scene to make room for camera movement, some Judy Garland scenes from a movie in which Betty Hutton replaced her a few days into shooting, a censored scene of Lena Horne in a bathtub and some unused vocal tracks from Show Boat before they were dubbed by a different singer. Scenes are introduced by Horne, Mickey Rooney, Esther Williams and other surviving stars from the era. Neat stuff. I only technically watched three quarters of it, but I’m gonna cheat and take credit anyway.