Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)

Passed   |    |  Biography, Musical


Till the Clouds Roll By (1946) Poster

Biography of songwriter, Broadway pioneer, Jerome Kern. Unable to find immediate success in the USA, Kern sought recognition abroad. He journeyed to England where his dreams of success became real and where he met his future wife Eva.


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  • Mary Nash and Robert Walker in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
  • Angela Lansbury in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
  • Robert Walker in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
  • Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
  • June Allyson and Ray McDonald in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
  • Robert Walker in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)

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Cast & Crew

Top Billed Cast



Directors:

Richard Whorf , Vincente Minnelli , George Sidney

Writers:

Guy Bolton (story), George Wells (story adaptation), Myles Connolly (screenplay), Jean Holloway (screenplay)

Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


1 December 2001 | mark.waltz
7
| Perfect medication for curing the blues.
When MGM in its heyday made so-called biographies of musical figures such as Jerome Kern, Rodger & Hart, and Sigmund Romberg, the story is about as consequential as they were in those early Broadway musicals. So out with the story, and on with the songs.

The film opens with a montage of numbers from "Show Boat"; Kathryn Grayson (who would later be seen in the 1951 film version) sings the role of Magnolia with Tony Martin as Gaylord Ravenal; Their rendition of "Make Believe" is alright; Grayson had a more charismatic partner in the film with Howard Keel; Martin had little screen presence which weakens the duet in spite of his fine voice. Virginia O'Brien sings a sassy "Life Upn the Wicked Stage" in a version I much prefer over the later Marge & Gower Champion version; Lena Horne as Julie beautifully sings "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man", making one wish the studio had cast her in the later version. (Note: Gardner wasn't bad, but Horne would have brought more sympathy and historical significance in the role). Worst of all in this 15-minute montage is Caleb Peterson's off-key rendition of "Old Man River", which is just unbearable to listen to.

Other musical numbers I want to comment on: "Till the Clouds Roll By" with Ray MacDonald is a catchy tune that is well staged and performed. "How'd You Like to Spoon With Me?" is also a catchy English music hall number with the wonderful Angela Lansbury; Set with girls on swings, it is also well staged, and if Lansbury sang the song herself, she did a good job. (Note: She did sound an awful like she did on cast albums of her future Broadway shows). Pregnant with Liza Minnelli at the time, Judy Garland (as Ziegfeld diva Marilyn Miller) is fist seen singing "Look For the Silver Lining" with dirt on her fact and hidden by a pile of dishes. A beautiful song, but not a memorable setting for MGM's most memorable musical diva. Better off for Garland is the circus-set "Sunny" (a true camp-fest) which meshes into the show-stopping "Who?". Garland has a few dramatic sequences here, trying to convince spoiled Lucille Bremer that her songs were taken away from her for the good of the show. Bremer simply pouted and acted like a bad seed; she gave a performance totally lacking sympathy. Hense, when she turns up later singing "I Won't Dance" with Van Johnson, you want him to respond "I didn't ask you".

I won't make any comments about Robert Walker's performance as Jerome Kern; Let's just say he was better than Mickey Rooney as Lorenz Hart in "Words and Music". As Walker's mentor (and bratty Bremer's father), Van Heflin seems to have no reason to be there other than to add a star name. Fortunately, there are enough star performers doing musical numbers to make this interesting. Let me not forget to mention June ("Depends") Allyson singing "Cleopatterer" in a sequence from "Leave It to Jane". Allyson, never a looker, still could sell a song, do a dance, and make the audience cry. Here, she does the first two very well; It's nice to see her in a performance not dependant on manipulating audience sympathy. Add Dinah Shore (briefly) singing "The Last Time I Saw Paris", which leads into a finale badly started out by having Bremer's character, now a star at MGM, singing a tribute to Kern. At least we get to glimpse Grayson, O'Brien, and Horne again before "Ole' Blue Eyes" Frank Sinatra comes on to croon "Old Man River". Skinny enough to where he almost fades into the white background, Sinatra still knows how to deliver a song. This was MGM's big Christmas release for 1946, so you can bet it was major box office. For audiences fighting the post-war blues, it was the perfect remedy. Today, it satisfies, but leaves one hungry for more an hour later.

Critic Reviews


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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film features Angela Lansbury performing as a London music hall soubrette, swinging in a London vaudeville music hall production number. All of her previous MGM musicals had her singing performances dubbed. Sh convinced producer Arthur Freed (I) that she should do her own singing, as a London music hall soubrette, a light lyric soprano with a very youthful voice. Coloratura and soubrette are very closely related. A coloratura will have the flexibility and a few more usable notes on top, while a soubrette is required to have low A's. Her London music hall "swing" number was choreographed by Hermes Pan with a ton of dancing chorus boys, elaborate sets and costumes. She was 20 1945 when the sequence was filmed. Judy Garland at age 22 performed her "Till the Clouds Roll By" production numbers, directed and staged by her new husband Vincente Minnelli. There is only one MGM stage on the lot where the theatre scenes were always filmed. The stage, located in the middle of the lot, is on the main street dividing the lot in half. The elephant doors on this filming stage, centered in the sound stage exterior/interior wall, is raised off the main street approximately five feet off the street ground level (when it rained heavily,, this main street was a conduit for flash flooding because of the street's downhill grade, from the main gate to the back gate). This stage was the interior back wall of the raised theatre stage, where all musical stage production numbers were filmed. All scenery had to be loaded into the stage off trucks (scenery was usually built in the studio carpenter shop and mill). The stage had a complete counterweight pin rail system, with arbor pipes for stage lighting fixtures, hanging drops, scenery, drapery legs and borders, stage lighting, etc. The stage was 30 feet deep, with the front of the stage apron dropping into an orchestra pit. This interior four-foot-high raised stage floor with a centered stage pit, a floor pit cover, removable to configure for filming requirements of production numbers. In front of the footlights stage apron was another pit, with a floor pit cover, allowing for the orchestra-size area configuration as required, including allowances for a prompter's box position center stage, and for a conductor center podium position. The theatre's raised four feet high stage" had a stage pit for water sequences if needed. Normally studio lighting was carbon arc fixtures. Electric "stage lights" were used as set dressing on the stage arbor pipes, with carbon arc lamps hung on scaffolding over the set, actually lighting the production number. The other part-half of the stage was raised one foot off ground level, where a theatre audience area could be installed. The stage configuration had a frame for the stage proscenium, which could be re-configured scenically, to represent different styles of theatre prosceniums. The sides of the stage were wide enough for European-style theatre box seating, with a rear balcony over the raked main audience area, usually built for the theatre (stage) audience floor. Otherwise, the actual stage floor was level. The audience armchair seats were all arranged on rails for easy access to strike for camera positions. This also allowed aisles to be configured, either a center aisle down the middle or two aisles dividing the center seats and side seat flanks. The "studio theatre" never had an overhead ceiling. Should a ceiling be seen in the finished film, this was accomplished with a matte shot. Chandeliers could be hung for set dressing the theatre audience area. Every musical production number, supposedly in a theatre, showing an audience, with an orchestra, was filmed on this stage. When no film musical production numbers were being required for the stage's filming schedule, other productions used the stage for normal stage sets required for dramatic and comedy subject films. Stage scaffolding installed over the stage set were hung from the stage ceiling rafters.


Quotes

James I. Hessler: Don't waste your time fussing with those wheezy little tunes - think big. Try to be somebody.


Goofs

When Kern goes to see Sally at Club Elite in Memphis, he hasn't written Show Boat yet. Therefore, it would be before 1927. However, the song she performs with Van Johnson, "I Won't Dance", wasn't written by Kern until 1935.


Soundtracks

Ol' Man River
(uncredited)
Music by
Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Sung by Frank Sinatra and Chorus

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Biography | Musical

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