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Warner Home Video presents
That's Entertainment: Treasures from the Vault (2004)

"(MGM) was like the Ziegfeld Follies of all the movie studios. Everything was first class, top-drawer."
- Ann Miller

Review By: David Krauss  
Published: October 28, 2004

Stars: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Ann Miller, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell, Nanette Fabray, Cyd Charisse, Angela Lansbury, June Allyson, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Esther Williams, Mickey Rooney, Howard Keel, Gloria DeHaven, Mike Douglas, George Hamilton, Kathryn Grayson, Mario Lanza, Jimmy Durante
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 04h:16m:00s
Release Date: October 12, 2004
UPC: 012569691520
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AA-A- A

DVD Review

That's Entertainment: Treasures from the Vault is a jam-packed bonus disc available only in the That's Entertainment!: The Complete Collection box set. But with more than four hours of documentaries, TV specials, featurettes, and a slew of deleted numbers from MGM classics, any fan of musicals would be insane to pass it up. A marvelous complement to the That's Entertainment trilogy, Treasures from the Vault contains substantive extras for each of the three films, adding glitz and glamour, insight and perspective, and more of what musical buffs love best—MGM stars like Judy Garland, Debbie Reynolds, and Frank Sinatra strutting their stuff in scores of rarely seen outtakes.

The double-sided disc begins with a vintage reel chronicling MGM's 25th anniversary celebration in 1949, in which the studio's largest soundstage was transformed into a restaurant for a galaxy of Metro stars. As Debbie Reynolds says in the original That's Entertainment (which includes an excerpt from the short), "They only served one meal, but it was a lunch that old-timers still talk about." Studio chief Louis B. Mayer presides over the gala event, and actor (and future senator) George Murphy introduces a procession of legends—most of whom look uncomfortable and embarrassed—including Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Greer Garson, Katharine Hepburn (wearing pants, of course), Lena Horne, Errol Flynn, Spencer Tracy, Frank Sinatra, and Esther Williams.

The disc divides its remaining extras into sections devoted to each of the three That's Entertainment films.

That's Entertainment

That's Entertainment: 50 Years of MGM honors the original film and the studio's "most precious commodity"—its peerless musicals. Originally broadcast as a network television special, the 76-minute salute begins as a mini-That's Entertainment, with clips from both dramatic and musical films, before hosts George and Alana Hamilton awkwardly gush over all the big stars attending the premiere. Gene Kelly discusses his bittersweet reaction to the movie; Debbie Reynolds recalls filming Singin' in the Rain; Fred Astaire divulges the secrets behind his famous wall-and-ceiling dance in Royal Wedding; and Liza Minnelli remembers the backstage gaffe that added a rather risqué element to her film debut at the age of two-and-a-half in In the Good Old Summertime. Lots of clips from the MGM archives (including many that weren't included in That's Entertainment) flesh out this celebratory—if shoddily produced—documentary.

Just One More Time gives viewers a cursory backstage look at the making of the film. The nine-minute featurette was produced during the shooting of That's Entertainment, and features a few alternate takes of the narrators, some shots of the editors at work, and a wealth of clips from the finished film.

That's Entertainment, Part 2

The Lion Roars Again is a rather dull 17-minute promo piece hyping the resurgence of MGM after some tough times. Built around the 1975 International Press Conclave, the featurette offers brief looks at upcoming productions, such as Logan's Run, The All-American Girl, The Sunshine Boys and That's Entertainment, Part 2, and shows Astaire, Kelly, and other stars schmoozing with the media.

More interesting is a 20-minute excerpt from a special edition of The Mike Douglas Show that originally aired on February 20, 1976. Douglas takes viewers on a tour of the old MGM lot and interviews many of the studio's musical veterans. In addition to chatting with Astaire and Kelly, Douglas conducts a charming group discussion with Nanette Fabray, Debbie Reynolds, Ann Miller, Janis Paige, Jane Powell, and choreographer Hermes Pan, all of whom bemoan the demise of the studio system and debate the differences between the old and new Hollywoods.

That's Entertainment III

Hands down the best documentary on the disc, That's Entertainment III: Behind the Screen is a slick, substantive, highly enjoyable look at the making of the trilogy's final installment and its subsequent star-studded premiere. All of the film's narrators (June Allyson, Howard Keel, Cyd Charisse, Lena Horne, Mickey Rooney, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller, and Esther Williams) appear in the 52-minute documentary, and discuss varied topics, including their affection (or disdain) for studio chief Louis B. Mayer, the appeal of MGM's classic musicals, and their memories of and regard for the late great Judy Garland. Horne poignantly recalls racism in 1940s Hollywood (and the kindness of hairdresser Sydney Guilaroff), and TE III's production team talks about employing previously unseen material, outtakes, and a few innovative gimmicks to distinguish the film from its predecessors.

Diehard musical fanatics, however, will quickly gravitate to Side B of the disc, which includes an all-new, 37-minute documentary, That's Entertainment: The Masters Behind the Musicals. Although much has been written about MGM's legendary stable of stars, this absorbing documentary shines the spotlight on the studio's vital behind-the-scenes talent—producers, directors, choreographers, and musicians—without whom there never would have been a That's Entertainment at all. Names like Johnny Green, Roger Edens, Saul Chaplin, Kay Thompson, Hermes Pan, and Robert Alton may not mean much to casual fans, but these unsung heroes were the creative backbone of MGM's musicals, devising innovative routines and lush orchestrations that greatly contribute to the lofty reputation of MGM musicals. Frank, engaging interviews, archival photos, and film clips flesh out their profiles (as well as those of Arthur Freed, Joseph Pasternak, Vincente Minnelli, Chuck Walters, Jack Cummings, André Previn, Conrad Salinger, and several others), while giving viewers a wonderful feel for the nuts-and-bolts construction of a musical film. Ann Miller's memory of how a compassionless Busby Berkeley forced her to dance with bleeding feet to complete the famous I've Gotta Hear That Beat number from Small Town Girl especially resonates, as does Lena Horne's touching recollection of her romance with composer/arranger Lennie Hayton, and the hate mail they received from both whites and blacks over their eventual interracial marriage.

Finally, The Musical Outtakes Jukebox presents 16 deleted musical numbers from an array of top MGM stars. All are entertaining and beautifully preserved, but icons like Garland, Sinatra, and Horne steal the show. Garland offers a sizzling rendition of Irving Berlin's Mr. Monotony (cut from Easter Parade and shown here for the first time in its entirety), as well as a mesmerizing interpretation of Harold Arlen's haunting ballad, Last Night When We Were Young (dropped from In the Good Old Summertime). Horne delivers a solid one-two punch with the fun-loving You Got Looks (excised from Meet Me in Las Vegas) and romantic You Won't Forget Me (cut from Duchess of Idaho). Other highlights include Sinatra crooning Boys and Girls Like You and Me (deleted from Take Me Out to the Ball Game), June Allyson and Patricia Marshall duetting An Easier Way (dropped from Good News), and Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor gliding through A Lady Loves (cut from I Love Melvin).

That's entertainment, indeed.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Not all treasures from the vault emerge in pristine condition, but image quality on this disc remains consistent with Warner's high standards. The newer material—That's Entertainment III: Behind the Screen and That's Entertainment: The Masters Behind the Musicals—looks terrific, with exceptional clarity and lush colors. Ditto the outtakes, which Warner technicians have so lovingly restored, they look almost as good as the films from which they were cut. The other vintage featurettes and TV shows can't quite compete, but still impress, considering their age. Of all the transfers, That's Entertainment: 50 Years of MGM is probably the weakest (but also the rarest find), yet watching the faded, muddy, and scratchy musical clips featured in that program certainly makes one appreciate Warner's restoration efforts—as if we needed an excuse!

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio quality remains quite good throughout. The outtakes, of course, vary a bit, but any imperfections are minor, and the sound problems afflicting That's Entertainment: 50 Years of MGM seem more a product of the era's inferior technology than slipshod archiving. Once again, the more recent material shines, with bright tones, clear interviews, and rich, full music.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Music/Song Access with 16 cues and remote access
16 Deleted Scenes
4 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. The Mike Douglas Show episode celebrating the release of That's Entertainment, Part 2
  2. Extended footage from MGM's 25th anniversary luncheon
Extras Review: As That's Entertainment: Treasures from the Vault is a bonus disc (available only in the That's Entertainment!: The Complete Collection box set), all the material is considered supplemental, and is described in the main review above.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

If you're on the fence about purchasing the four-disc That's Entertainment: The Complete Collection box set, these bona fide Treasures from the Vault should push you over the edge. Fans of vintage musicals couldn't ask for a more comprehensive array of supplements, and the rare, beautifully preserved material will be enjoyed by classic film buffs now and forever.

 


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