14 August 2003 | critic-2
A one-hour commercial for M-G-M
Despite its misleading title, this is not a condensed history of M-G-M Studios. It is a one-hour promotional piece for what seems like every single one of M-G-M's then-upcoming releases for late 1950 and all of 1951, and although it's fun to watch to see the way film studios used to publicize its releases, it plays like a one-hour commercial, and can quickly get tiresome if you're not passionately interested.
At the beginning, the great actor Lionel Barrymore appears onscreen, making us hope that he will be our guide for the film; no such luck, unfortunately. Dore Schary, the then-new head of M-G-M, who ousted Louis B. Mayer from power, is our host, and he is quite bland and forgettable. We see clips (some of them quite familiar) from both Metro classics and obscure films, none lasting more than a minute or two, and one of the few interesting things about "The Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Story" is that some of these clips were shot before the films were actually finished. So, we get to see bass-baritone William Warfield shot from an entirely different camera angle, one that does not appear in the finished film, as he sings "Ol' Man River" in M-G-M's 1951 version of "Show Boat".
Unfortunately, "The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Story" does not go into detail about any of the films or how they were made, so all we basically get are tons of clips from M-G-M's 1950-51 films, and no single clip is long enough to keep us entertained (unlike, say, the "That's Entertainment!" films). "The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Story" is good for curiosity value, but it is no substitute for either a documentary about M-G-M or one of the "That's Entertainment" films.