30 November 2005 | jotix100
MGM at its best
Having seen the previous two installments of this series about MGM's great years, we hadn't seen the last one, but thanks to TCM, which showed it recently, we now have completed the cycle. The documentary, directed by Bud Friedgen and Michael Sheridan, brings us back to the golden years of the studio that boasted it had more stars than any one else in Hollywood.
This new version concentrates on the singing and dancing stars. Its 113 minutes running time flies by without noticing because of the quality of the material selected to be shown.
There is a magnificent black and white sequence showing Eleanor Powell performing a number and at the same time on a second screen we are taken to the actual filming of the routine as the technicians worked on it. Even for the time when it was filmed, it was revolutionary. Also, we see a dance routine by Fred Astaire with two different costumes and the same music shown on split screen where the "master" himself performs the exact same steps in both sequences. Amazing!
The only sad note of the documentary is to see how Lena Horne, a talented and gorgeous black woman who was employed by the studio, but was never given a starring role on films that involved other white actors. In fact, it's a shame she lost a plum role in "Showboat" because of the discrimination at the time.
It was great to watch the MGM stars narrating the different segments. Thus, we saw June Allyson, Cyd Charisse, Ann Miller, Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Esther Williams, Howard Keel introducing the different production numbers in the documentary.
Without a doubt, Hollywood was a factory of dreams and MGM was the best place where they came true.