Some of the Best: Twenty-Five Years of Motion Picture Leadership (1949)

  |  Documentary, Short


Released as part of the studio's 25th anniversary (Silver) celebration, the film shows highlights of MGM's major productions from 1924 through 1948. Subtitle depicted: "Twenty-Five Years of Motion Picture Leadership".


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12 May 2014 | wes-connors
5
| Dinner and the Movies
Five years after "Some of the Best" (1944), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) edited together an updated version. This one is subtitled, "Twenty-Five Years of Motion Picture Leadership." Like the first, clips from some of MGM's most successful motion pictures are presented, in order. This time, the format is changed, slightly. Only one film clip from each year is allowed, to leave room for an extensive promotional segment. Unlike the previous edition, color features are included. With more years and fewer clips, the time speeds by and there is less sense of any era or star. Greta Garbo ("I want to be alone"), Hedy Lamarr ("I am Tondelayo") and Mickey Rooney ("Andy Hardy") are mentioned as major personalities, but no single star is cited with much emphasis. John Gilbert stars in the first three films sampled, without any particular mention. If any single star and genre dominates (unintentionally), it's Judy Garland and musicals...

This "Some of the Best" is also different in that it ends with a long run of clips from upcoming MGM features. While several of these features became worthy enough hits to warrant inclusion as "some of the best," their presence makes the entire package less appealing than the usual MGM celebrations. The MGM compilation films arguably reached a peak with "That's Entertainment!" (1974). Intermittent commentary is provided by Lionel Barrymore, one of the studio's stalwart stars. His comments are much more limited than previous host Lewis Stone. This documentary's highlight is the ending footage, now widely seen, of MGM's 25th anniversary dinner, with the camera panning long tables of MGM stars dining. It wasn't obvious in 1949, but MGM's golden era came to an end in the 1950s. The "studio system" perfected at MGM ended, each company's power diminished, tastes changed and irreplaceable personnel were not replaced.

***** Some of the Best (6/23/49) Herman Hoffman ~ Lionel Barrymore, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Greta Garbo

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