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That's Entertainment! III

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: G

Running Time: 113 Minutes

Starring: June Allyson, Cyd Charisse, Lena Horne, Howard Keel, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller, Debbie Reynolds, Mickey Rooney, Esther Williams

 

 

 

Studio: Warner Bros.

Retail Price: $19.97

Features: Robert Osborne Introduction, Extended Sequences, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Index (38 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. "That's Entertainment! III" was released 18 years after "Part 2." Truthfully, "III" is not as accessible as the first two movies. It's still a fine watch, but it's more for the die-hard classic movie fan and completist. There's more musical moments, but if you're really into the musicals then you'll be quite a happy camper to see cut numbers (including two by Judy Garland), alternate takes and some nifty behind-the-scenes footage. If anything, the film succeeds because there's quite a fine sense of history presented and besides, you can't get enough musical moments, right?

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! III" 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 (just as it has with the two other films in the series).

 

The last film in the series features a brand new 5.1 Dolby Digital track in English. Putting the musicals into 5.1 seems fitting and appropriate enough (though the comedy sequences are questionable), 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. Also included are English closed captions as well as subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

 

Once again, there's introduction from Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne who seems pretty passionate about the third film, even calling it a true successor to the original. He puts the movie into a historical context, and highlights its more memorable moments The Theatrical Trailer is included too, and for you fans, there's even extended musical numbers that didn't appear in the theatrical release. But if you really want bonus features (and a great deal of them), then check out the boxed set of the series.

 

I'm still all for the nifty boxed set of the "That's Entertainment!" series, but if for some reason you just want the third one, here it is. The extended musical numbers don't hurt, and the movie looks and sounds pretty great for what it is. But yet again, I must urge you all considering a purchase to go for the boxed set - the extra disc of supplements in there is worth it.