That's Entertainment! Movie Review
That's Entertainment! -- which would spawn two sequels and another DVD of extras (available on the box set, see right) -- is more accurately a celebration of MGM and its legacy of movie musicals. Shot in 1974, the film takes us on a tour of MGM's then-sprawling backlot (which was torn down shortly thereafter), radically contrasting the dilapidated sets with the films that were originally shot on them. Stars like Sinatra, Astaire, Crosby, Kelly, Minnelli, and Reynolds (Debbie, not Burt) are our tour guides, hosting us on our walkthrough the back lot and introducing the clips of past films starring themselves and their friends.
The film is at its most interesting not when we're seeing umpteen clips from Singin' in the Rain (great film, yes, but it's best as a whole, not cut to ribbons), but when we're seeing obscure movies that have stars like Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable turn in rare musical performances -- some of which aren't very good at all. (Elizabeth Taylor is particularly candid about her own screeching performance.)
The remainder of the movie is as you might expect, a procession of clips representing the best of MGM's biggest hits: Gigi, The Wizard of Oz,The Broadway Melody, Show Boat, and a number of Esther Williams productions (nearly 100 films are snippeted in total). It's unabashed nostalgia and nothing more, but a critical document in the history of film, and the definitive chronicle of the musical.
Part 2 of the series (shot in 1976) is more of the same -- delving deeper into comedy from Jimmy Durante, the Marx brothers, and the like. Part 3 comprises mostly rarities and behind the scenes footage (and was put together 20 years later). Buy the box set trilogy and you get a fourth disc called Treasures from the Vault, which adds classic newsreels and documentaries, plus deleted musical numbers from the films featured in the first three movies.