10 January 2010 | paskuniag
This is what MGM had to offer?
I was just old enough to read about and understand the dismantling of MGM not long after this promotional short came out. In retrospect, if the movies featured in it are all the studio had to offer, then I guess it became a fait accompli when most of these pictures were released to mediocre reviews and/or box office, precipitating the fire sale of real estate and studio inventory that took place as a result (the most symbolic act of which being the auctioning of Dorothy's ruby slippers).
I have seen many of the films that were promoted here. The highlight, of course, was "2001: A Space Oddysey." "Point Blank" and "Where Eagles Dare" were both pieces of solid entertainment, as well. On the other end was "The Extraordinary Seaman," a horrible mess of a film that is supposed to be a lightweight story about the ghost of a WWI British naval officer (David Niven), but was weighted down by an albatross of a script penned by someone without a shred of whimsy, and directed the same way by John Frankenheimer, of all people. And "A Man Called Dagger" screams "TV Movie," what with its small-screen/b-movie cast (and budget). Unfortunately, most of the films in "Lionpower" fit either one or both of those moldy molds.
The class productions included "The Comedians," an ironic title, courtesy of the Graham Greene novel, about people living in Haiti during the Papa Doc Duvalier regime. Not a happy movie, but at least the participants- Liz and Dick, plus Lillian Gish and Paul Ford- had a good script to work from. And Roman Polanski directed "The Fearless Vampire Killers," a humorous satire that ought to be viewed again, now that the Transylvania Kids are once again en vogue.
There are a lot of other movies represented here. Unfortunately, even the few good ones mentioned in it couldn't save the studio, and the (mostly) fair-to-middling releases only hastened the demise of the MGM we once knew. So, in the end, "Lionpower" represents the final, throttled gasp of Leo the Lion, symbol of the studio that was once called the "Dream Factory."
Footnote: Ironically, it was another gigantic turkey, "Heaven's Gate," that, a decade later, allowed MGM (and Leo) to rise from the ashes and take over its parent company, United Artists, which had financed that infamous money pit of a film.