10 May 2014 | wes-connors
Twenty Years of MGM
This documentary from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) celebrates 20 years with clips from some of the studio's most successful films. The host is Lewis Stone, who states he has been with the studio for "over 20 years." Like most movie people, Mr. Stone is counting the years before "Metro" merged with Samuel Goldwyn (itself a merger of Goldfish-Selwyn-Selwyn) and Louis B. Mayer. Stone spent most of his career at Metro/MGM. We begin with scenes from two of MGM's early silent blockbusters, John Gilbert in "The Big Parade" (1925) and Ramon Novarro in "Ben Hur" (1925). With worldwide favorites Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Lon Chaney, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and many others, MGM could boast, "More stars than there are in the heavens." The next subject is Greta Garbo, who Stone calls "The First Lady of the Screen." Stone mentions she was introduced in "Flesh and the Devil" (1926), but Ms. Garbo was a star from her first US motion pictures...
Lionel Barrymore revives high praise from Stone, who calls his colleague's performance in "A Free Soul" (1931) one of the finest ever committed to film. In five years, Mr. Barrymore would host MGM's new version of "Same of the Best" (1949); it trimmed many of the old clips to make room for the studio's new and upcoming productions. As is generally acknowledged, the famous "telephone scene" from "The Great Ziegfeld" (1936) which made Luise Rainer a big favorite with "Oscar" voters is shown. Oddly, some title cards celebrate their status as "Academy Award" winners, while others forget – for example. "The Broadway Melody" (1929) was a "Best Picture" winner. Well-represented, Spencer Tracy is mentioned as getting better with every appearance. The later final clips are dominated by MGM's "vibrant new" star Greer Garson. It's all nicely paced and narrated. The title acknowledges than many films were left out; one reason is that this documentary was filmed in back-and-white. The next anniversary edition included color.
***** Some of the Best (1944) Louis B. Mayer ~ Lewis Stone, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy