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  • Lionel Barrymore sits behind a desk and hosts this review of MGM's 25 years of film-making leadership. After a small bit of braggadocio, he introduces a great film from each year, from John Gilbert & Greta Garbo silents through Academy Award winning Best Pictures like Broadway Melody, Mutiny on the Bounty, and Mrs. Miniver. He then introduces some clips from several films in production to be released that year like The Stratton Story, The Secret Garden, and Take Me Out to the Ball Game before mentioning a few others (e.g. On the Town) without showing any footage. The short ends with some familiar panning shots, for anyone who watches TCM, from the studio's Silver Jubilee banquet that features "more stars than there are in Heaven" (actors from Robert Taylor to Ava Gardner etc.).
  • This would've been a good bonus feature on the That's Entertainment DVD box set! It contains footage (seen in TE) from the famous 25th anniversary dinner, where MGM's stars sat on display at looong tables, eating, chatting (wish we could hear what they're saying), looking bored/uncomfortable, or hamming it up for the cameras. I've seen this footage many times, but I never tire of trying to identify the celebs, quickly, while the camera pans over them. Hey, it's a fun game - play it with a friend!

    But the bulk of this clip show is, naturally, the clips. There's a special intro by Lionel Barrymore about the anniversary, followed by a montage of Some Of The Best films MGM made in their first 25 years. One movie from each year is highlighted. I notice a few of these scenes were virtually lifted and used in That's Entertainment later - nice that some of the editing was already done for them!

    Then they show sneak peeks of movies that were currently in production. The dramatic scenes (in some cases *melodramatic* - boy, was Deborah Kerr overacting in her scene from "Edward, My Son" - it's hysterical!), and the presentation reminded me of soap operas on TV that show previews of upcoming episodes to get you to tune in next week. It's fascinating to see which films MGM thought would be the Important Prestige Pictures of 1949! Several of these are obscure now and didn't really become classics. Still, the clips whet your appetite and make you want to watch the whole movie - which, of course, was the point. It's too bad many of them are unavailable on home video.

    Little did they know as they were celebrating, that in just a few years Dore Schary would take control of MGM, the Hayes Code would be demolished, vulgarity/violence/shock-value would rule the day ...and the Golden Age of Hollywood would be over. Ah well, we'll always have the first 25 years!
  • 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
  • Warning: Spoilers
    . . . recognized within a brief decade that its hate-filled "GWTW" filibuster was a reprehensible assault against America, People of Color and basic Common Sense. M-G-M tries to toot its own horn by showing clips from what it considers to be the Mangy Lion's top 25 flicks of a past quarter century in the ironically titled SOME OF THE BEST, and GWTW (currently joining the Washington Redskins on the renaming blotter; GASHED WITH THE WHIP is the leading candidate so far) doesn't make the cut. GWTW is not even "Leo's" pick for top flick of 1939; a children's story remake called THE WIZARD OF OZ holds that distinction. They say that a prophet garners no respect in his hometown; I guess the same goes for an ill-gotten undeserved profit!
  • These are the films Lionel Barrymore counts down as a celebration of MGM's Silver Anniversary: 1924-The Big Parade, 1925-The Merry Widow, 1926-Flesh and the Devil, 1927-Ben Hur, 1928- Tell It To The Marines, 1929-The Broadway Melody, 1930-Min and Bill, 1931-Trader Horn, 1932-Grand Hotel, 1933-Tugboat Annie, 1934-Dinner at Eight, 1935-Mutiny on the Bounty, 1936-San Francisco, 1937-The Good Earth, 1938-Boys Town, 1939-The Wizard of Oz, 1940- Boom Town, 1941-The Philadelphia Story, 1942-Mrs. Miniver, 1943-Randon Harvest, 1944- National Velvet, 1945-Meet Me In St. Louis, 1946-The Green Years, 1947-The Yearling, 1948- Easter Parade
  • For this review, I'm commenting on two things: The actual short mentioned by title above and recently unearthed footage of the actual M-G-M 25th anniversary dinner that appeared as an extra on the That's Entertainment! HD DVD. Okay, on Some of the Best, Lionel Barrymore does "informal commentary" (that's what it says of him in the credits) about the great achievements of his home studio of the first 25 years as he mentions the various characters and places M-G-M had us get to know and go to. He then intros the best, or most popular, pictures from each year of which I've seen seven (San Francisco, The Good Earth, Boys Town, The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, National Velvet, and Easter Parade). Then he plugs many of upcoming films with clips of which I've seen maybe five (Border Incident, Neptune's Daughter, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, In the Good Old Summertime, and Intruder in the Dust). After that, we're treated to a familiar sight: The famous dinner where we pan across various contract stars that would later be included in the That's Entertainment! compilation followed by short clips of players who couldn't make it. This was an interesting promotional short that celebrated both the studio's glorious past and its promising future. An interesting find I watched on YouTube. Now, to the other thing I'm reviewing: The extra I mentioned has not only the panning of the stars sequence but also George Murphy introducing each star as they walk by. I especially liked when Frank Sinatra arrived, he said, "Hi, Frankie." What really fascinated me though was the appearance of the dinner's host: Studio head Louis B. Mayer. He does a speech where he intro's people like Eddie Mannix, an executive who supposedly did some cover-up of some scandals associated with some of the personnel that may, or not, have been started by him. Also, did he also mention a Joe Schenck at the table? Joe may have been the brother of Mr. Mayer's superior, Nick, but he also was a production head at rival 20th Century-Fox. Finally, he mentioned about feeling optimistic about the 26th season and hoped to get proper credit. Little did he, or his seated employees, know that he'd be ousted in a power play between him and head of production Dore Schary a couple of years later...By the way, I'm giving this an 8.