It Still Is
Gene Kelly, Esther Williams, Mickey Rooney, June Allyson and Debbie Reynolds are among the stars who take us one another musical trip through the heyday of the MGM musicals with not only clips from some classic musicals but also clips from behind the scenes whilst also telling us what it was like to be part of the MGM family back in those golden days.
It's interesting really because the first "That's Entertainment" was spectacular with its journey through the big production numbers from MGM musicals with stars of the past providing the titbits of information which made it feel like a journey in to how things were rather than just a collection of clips. Ironically "That's Entertainment, Part II" ended up feeling little more that a compilation of clips with the format changing with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire singing and dancing in between them and in truth it was a bit of a let down. Thankfully "That's Entertainment! III" returns to the original format and we have the stars of the past including Gene Kelly returning to not only introduce various clips but tell us all about being in MGM back then and despite coming 18 years after "Part II" none of the magic is loss.
Now I mentioned several star names at the start of the review and there are plenty more which when you watch "That's Entertainment! III" now makes it tinged with sadness as only Debbie Reynolds is alive out of those who provide on screen introductions to various clips. Not only that when you see the likes of Gene Kelly as an old man it brings a tear to your eye although to hear him talk with such enthusiasm and passion about those magical musical days makes it an absolute joy as is Esther Williams talking about how they always managed to turn stories so that she would end up in the pool.
That is actually a big part of what makes "That's Entertainment! III" work so well as whilst the clips from musicals and behind the scenes are interesting it is the memories of back then which makes it so engaging. Learning from the always delightful June Allyson about all the classes that want to be starlets had to go through at MGM before even getting a screen test makes you realise how hard it was especially when she tells us that the talented Kathryn Grayson was in MGM classes for two years before getting her first screen test.
Of course there are the wonderful clips and watching Gene Kelly do a dance number with a squeaky floorboard and a few sheets of newspaper is mesmerising. And there are many more including one of the behind the scenes clips which see the stage hands moving pianos and platforms whilst a star is dancing making for a piece which seamlessly goes on and on. Plus there is the hilarious scene of Mickey Rooney doing a Carmen Miranda performance.
What this all boils down to is that "That's Entertainment! III" is a return to form with another mesmerising journey back through the golden days of MGM. Yes it is tinged with sadness with so few of the stars now left but it makes all the more important to cherish such a wonderful look at the past.