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That's Entertainment!

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: G

Running Time: 135 minutes

Starring: Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Gene Kelly, James Stewart

 

 

 

Studio: Warner Bros.

Retail Price: $19.97

Features: Robert Osborne Introduction, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround Stereo, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Index (32 Scenes)

Released: October 12th, 2004

 

 

The movie musical is a genre that has certainly been dead for the longest time, and while a few have popped up here and there (excluding Disney's animated offerings in 80s and 90s), it seems that movie musicals are finally making a comeback on the heels of the success of "Moulin Rouge" and the Oscar-winning benemoth "Chicago." Yet ask any contemporary youngster these days, and chances are good they probably don't know a lot about the Hollywood of the past. The really glitzy premieres, how celebrity was arguably different then and how musicals - yes, musicals - ruled the industry.

Anyone who's a fan of old Hollywood (or classic musicals at least) is probably familiar with the "That's Entertainment!" series. The first film was originally a small project to celebrate MGM's 50th anniversary, but soon it blew up into something much more and became quite the memorable film. The original and its two sequels are a fabulous, engrossing and always entertaining look back at a key era in Hollywood's golden age. The movies are kind of like a clip-show and kind of like a documentary combined (actually, according to Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, the proper definition is "docutainment"). There's also a weary-eyed look of nostalgia to them; stars of the era look back at the days gone by, putting the movies into some kind of time frame and mentioning their experiences here and there. These stars really cement the importance of the films, talent and actors and how they'll probably never be another period like these specific "good old days." You won't find anything negative here - these are tribute films in every sense of the word.

While each film is linked by the musicals, they're each a bit different. The first "That's Entertainment" (which is arguably the best one) showcases an incredible amount of stars in an incredible amount of films. The stars are famous, but some of the musicals might actually be a bit obscure to some. This is all hosted by several timeless legends (and then some) - Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Jimmy Stewart and quite a few more (all on the MGM backlot, which was subsequently torn down shortly after filming of the movie). What certainly makes "That's Entertainment!" so strong is how it provides a great historical sense of the movie musical, which really began in the 30s.

By this point you've probably assessed whether "That's Entertainment!" is appealing or not. Musical lovers, fans of the classic films and fans of this trilogy in general - then you know what you're in for. But if you are just a tiny bit curious about the Hollywood of old - and want to see it at its best, complete with all its biggest stars - then don't hestiate and check out these films. You won't be disappointed in the slightest bit.

 

Featuring 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full screen transfers on a dual-layer disc, "That's Entertainment!" has been digitally remastered and looks pretty nice. The full screen versions of the film is interesting: the specifically filmed portions are cropped, but the actual movie scenes feature their original aspect ratios (which is either full screen or widescreen), which is a nice touch if you ask me. These transfer is a bit hard to judge in my opinion: there are just so many clips, and of course, due to their ages and how they were put together in the first place, truly vary. Yet for the most part the clips look great, and the specifically filmed footage looks pretty nice too: decent fleshtones, fine detail and color saturation that is balanced and firm. There's some flaws though to be found: expect to see plenty of dirt, grainy, blemishes, scratches and even shimmering. Still, Warner has done a fine job with the transfer for the most part.

 

For the film's debut on DVD (along with its sequels), "That's Entertainment!" features a brand new 5.1 Dolby Digital track in English. Putting the musicals into 5.1 seems fitting and appropriate enough, and largely it suceeds. It is not as discrete as sound mixes for recent movies, but the broad soundstages presented do their job quite well: the actual music is broad, the vocals are pretty sharp and there's even some effects that are pulled off decently, such as imaging. The song and dance numbers aren't completley three dimensional in the way they sound, put they do remain a bit imersive. Dialogue is clean too and easy to hear, in both the clips and specially filmed segments. A French Dolby Surround Stereo track is included, plus English closed captions and subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

 

Not much here. There's an introduction from Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne, which is several minutes and is excellent. He explains the origins of the movie, its success and what made it so special. There's also the original Theatrical Trailer, and that's it. If you really want supplements (and a great deal of them), then check out the boxed set of the trilogy.

 

"That's Entertainment" is quite the joyous and entertaining compilation of classic movie musical clips, and is complete with some great introductions by the stars of yesteryear. The retail price for the movie and what you get is a pretty good deal, but if you're a true fan of old Hollywood and the series, then the boxed set is a must have instead of this single disc release.