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Friday, 30 November 2012

That's Entertainment III (1994) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

"The song has ended but the melody lingers on..." - Gene Kelly (in 'That's Entertainment III')

'That's Entertainment III' is a 1995 documentary reuniting 9 legendary MGM stars, Ann Miller, Cyd Charisse, Debbie Reynolds, Esther Williams, Gene Kelly, Howard Keel, June Allyson, Lena Horne and Mickey Rooney.

Released 18 years after 'That's Entertainment, Part II' (1976), and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of MGM, 'That's Entertainment III' explores the MGM musical a little further than the previous films, by not showing clips from nearly 100 MGM musicals, but also a selection of unused musical numbers for the first time. 

Highlights from 'That's Entertainment, Part II'

  • Overture - As with the two previous films, an overture welcomes us to this theatrical experience
  • 'That's Entertainment III' opens with Fred Astaire singing "Here's to the Girls" from 'Ziegfeld Follies' (1945)
  • First up is Gene Kelly, who provides us with the origins of the MGM musicals, with popular vaudeville acts being filmed in 'The Hollywood Revue' (1929), and the introduction of the Hays Production Code, which led to the casting of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy is a series of family-friendly and compliant musicals
  • Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney with their lively rendition of "Good Morning", from 'Babes in Arms' (1939)
  • We are shown behind the scenes footage into how Eleanor Powell's "Fascinating Rhythm" number from 'Lady Be Good' (1941) was filmed
  • Esther Williams introduces us to her giant swimming pool tank, and gives some background as to how her extravagant ballet sequences were filmed, treating us to her personal favourite clips from her wonderful films
  • June Allyson talks to us about the screen test process, and we see June in action singing "The Three B's" in 'Best Foot Forward' with Nancy Walker and Gloria De Haven
  • Cyd Charisse performing "Baby You Knock Me Out" in 'It's Always Fair Weather' (1955)
  • Cyd Charisse shows us the scenic background building at MGM, and presents a loving tribute to the films of Gene Kelly
  • Gene Kelly & Cyd Charisse's pas de deux "The Heather on the Hill" from 'Brigadoon' (1954), revealed to be Charisse's favourite dance with Gene
  • Debbie Reynolds talks to us about classic leading ladies and gowns by the famed designer Adrian, through clips of Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, Jean Harlow, Angela Lansbury, Elizabeth Taylor and Marion Davies
  • A special montage is presented showcasing the best of latin/tropical talent, including Xavier Cugat, Ricardo Montalban and Carmen Miranda (with a memorable clip of Mickey Rooney impersonating Miranda in drag)
  • Lena Horne shares her emotional struggle as an African American performer during the 1940s, which led to her usually making a brief walk-on singing performance, before exiting immediately after her number - she also reveals she was not permitted to play the role of Julie LaVerne in 'Showboat' (1951), due to the Hays Production Code not permitting interracial relationships
  • Lena Horne singing "Just One of Those Things" from 'Panama Hattie' (1941)
  • We are shown a deleted Lena Horne song from the film 'Cabin in the Sky' called "Ain't It The Truth" - cut because MGM felt it would be too risque showing an African American woman taking a bubble bath
  • Ava Gardner's vocals for "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" in 'Show Boat' (1952) - in the film her vocals were dubbed
  • The tragic story of Judy Garland's brief stint in 'Annie, Get Your Gun' in 1950, before she was fired - we see two filmed numbers "I'm An Indian Too" and "Doin' What Comes Naturally" for the first time
  • Mickey Rooney appears to give an inspiring tribute to his good friend Judy Garland
  • Judy Garland singing "Who?" in 'Till the Clouds Roll By' (1946)
  • An unreleased Judy Garland song from 'Easter Parade' (1948) called "Mr. Monotony" - in my opinion, the best number filmed and I am baffled as to why it was cut
  • An unreleased Judy Garland song from 'The Harvey Girls' (1946) called "March of the Doagies"
  • Ann Miller (My personal favourite MGM star) gives a tribute to dancing legend Fred Astaire, who by now had passed away
  • Ann Miller singing "Shakin' the Blues Away" in 'Easter Parade' (1948)
  • Howard Keel takes us on a brief tour of the MGM film vault, and talks to us about new technology such as CinemaScope and Stereophonic Sound, designed to combat the threat of television... we are appropriately shown footage of the song "Stereophonic Sound" from 'Silk Stockings' (1957)
  • Howard Keel & Betty Hutton singing "Anything You Can Do I Can Better" in 'Annie, Get Your Gun' (1950)
  • The demise of the MGM musical is discused, including some memorable clips from some of the last big MGM hits, Elvis Presley singing the title song from 'Jailhouse Rock' (1957), Doris Day singing "Shakin' the Blues Away" from 'Love Me or Leave Me' (1955), and the title track from the Oscar winning 'Gigi' (1958)
  • What better way to close the film than with a brief conclusion from Mr. Entertainment himself, Gene Kelly, in what is among the last bits of footage filmed of him
  • And the finale... "That's Entertainment!" from 'The Bandwagon' (1955)

Featured performers (in alphabetical order):

Adrian, George K. Arthur, Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Ingrid Bergman, Ray Bolger, Joseph Breen, Lucille Bremer, Jack Buchanan, Billie Burke, Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Xavier Cugat, Arlene Dahl, Marion Davies, Doris Day, Gloria DeHaven, Marlene Dietrich, Beth Dodge, Betty Dodge, Marie Dressler, Rosetta Duncan, Vivian Duncan, Jimmy Durante, Buddy Ebsen, Nelson Eddy, Cliff Edwards, Nanette Fabray, The Five Locust Sisters, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Betty Garrett, Greer Garson, Paulette Goddard, Dolores Gray, Kathryn Grayson, Oliver Hardy, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Bob Hope, Lena Horne, Betty Hutton, Harry James, Betty Jaynes, Louis Jourdan, Buster Keaton, Howard Keel, Grace Kelly, The King's Men, Hedy Lamarr, Angela Lansbury, Stan Laurel, Vivien Leigh, Oscar Levant, Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, Jeanette MacDonald, Tony Martin, Joan McCracken, Ray McDonald, Douglas McPhail, Una Merkel, Ann Miller, Carmen Miranda, Marilyn Monroe, Ricardo Montalban, Polly Moran, Jules Munshin, George Murphy, J. Carrol Naish, Donald O'Connor, Janis Paige, Jack Pearl, Eleanor Powell, Jane Powell, William Powell, Elvis Presley, Luise Rainer, Debbie Reynolds, Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Aggie Ross, Elmira Ross, Maggie Ross, Rosaline Russell, Norma Shearer, Frank Sinatra, Ann Sothern, Clinton Sundberg, Don Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner, Lupe Velez, Vera-Ellen, Nancy Walker, Esther Williams, Francis Williams, Chill Wills, Harry Wilson, Robert Young, Roland Young

Did you know...

  • This was Gene Kelly's final screen appearance
  • Gene Kelly is the only star to host all three 'That's Entertainment' films
  • This was Debbie Reynolds' and Mickey Rooney's second time hosting a 'That's Entertainment' film

Closing remarks

Gene Kelly on the set of 'That's Entertainment III'
My favourite of all the 'That's Entertainment' films. What I like most about Part III is the presenters are all MGM musical stars, whereas Part I featured some stars who didn't make many MGM films (Bing Crosby, Donald O'Connor) or stars who didn't make many musicals (Elizabeth Taylor, James Stewart). 

Who better to present the best of MGM musicals than Ann Miller (my favourite MGM star), Esther Williams, June Allyson, Lena Horne and of course Gene Kelly!

The only bad thing about 'That's Entertainment Part III' is we are yet to see a part 4.

As of June 2012, there are a small number of MGM stars who could feature in a Part 4: Leslie Caron, Doris Day, Liza Minnelli, Marge Champion, Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell, Esther Williams, Carleton Carpenter, Nanette Fabray, Mickey Rooney, Russ Tamblyn and Tommy Rall. That said, time is running out and sadly there may no more "That's Entertainment!"

Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer (2002) - Star of the month... Frank Sinatra

'Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer" is a 2002 documentary, narrated by Stanley Tucci.

Featuing interviews with  Betsy Blair, Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, Betty Comden, Nina Foch, Betty Garrett, Adolph Green, Arthur Laurents, Fayard Nicholas, Andre Previn, Debbie Reynolds,

The documentary begins with his childhood, and early dance training, which took him to Broadway, where he featured in musicals 'Leave it to Me', 'The Time of Your Life' and the leading role in 'Pal Joey'.

The documentary features some of the only known footage of Gene dancing in 'Pal Joey', as well clips from two early appearances in 'The Kelly Brothers' (1932) and 'The Cap and Gown Revue' (1932).

Many films from throughout Gene's career are represented including:
  • For Me and My Gal (1942) - features the song 'For Me & My Gal'
  • Thousands Cheer (1943) - features the song 'Let Me Call You Sweetheart'
  • Cover Girl (1944) - features the song 'Long Ago and Far Away' & 'Alter Ego'
  • Anchors Aweigh (1945) -  features the song 'I Begged Her' & 'The Worry Song'
  • Ziegfeld Follies (1945) - features the song 'The Babbit and the Bromide'
  • Words and Music (1948) - features the song 'Slaughter on Tenth Avenue'
  • The Pirate (1948) - features the songs 'The Pirate Ballet' & 'Be A Clown'
  • Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949) - features the songs 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' & 'Strictly USA'
  • On the Town (1949) - features the songs 'New York, New York', 'On the Town' & 'A Day in New York Ballet'
  • Summer Stock (1950) - features the songs 'You Wonderful You', 'Dig-Dig-Dig- Dig for Your Dinner'
  • An American In Paris (1951) - features the songs 'I Got Rhythm' & 'An American In Paris Ballet'
  • Singin' in the Rain (1952) - features the songs 'Singin' in the Rain', 'Moses Supposes', 'Dreaming Of You', 'Would You?', 'Good Morning' & 'The Broadway Melody Ballet'
  • Invitation to the Dance (1956) - features excerpts from all 3 dance segments
  • Brigadoon (1953) - features the song 'Heather on the Hill'
  • It's Always Fair Weather (1955) - features the songs 'March, March', 'The Binge', 'I Like Myself'
  • Omnibus (1958) (TV Series) - features a clip from episode 'Dancing: A Man's Game'
  • Hello Dolly! (1969) -  features the song "Before the Parade Passes By"
  • That's Entertainment! (1974) - features a clip from Kelly's narration

MGMs 25th Anniversary - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

Judy Garland seated next to Fred Astaire is not paying
attention to the camera
'MGMs 25th Anniversary' is a short film documenting, you guessed it, MGM's 25th anniversary banquet lunch.

It is primarily made up of the various MGM stars eating, with a short speech by Louis B. Mayer.

Some of the highlights for me include:

  • Ava Gardner & Clark Gable smoking in every shot in which they are shown
  • Ann Miller swapping seats with Agnes Moorehead, to sit next to her dear friend Jules Munshin
  • Claude Jarmin Jr. with a big smile on face as he drinks something - I have a suspicion there may be something alcoholic in that glass, hence the cheeky smile
  • Lena Horne looking awkward sitting next to Katharine Hepburn
  • Mario Lanza chatting up Vivian Leigh, while Angela Lansbury sits next to him stuffing her face with food
  • Errol Flynn & Greer Garson, fresh off the set of 'That Forsyte Woman' are looking rather cosy and inseparable
  • Jimmy Durante seated with Ava Gardner & Clark 
    Gable - Notice Agnes Moorehead, Ann Miller  & 
    Jules Mushin behind them
  • The closing shot of Lassie
Some of the other classic stars featured include Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Betty Garrett, Leon Ames, Fred Astaire, Wallace Beery, Katharine Grayson, Jimmy Durante, Howard Keel, James Whitmore, and many more.

That's Entertainment (1974) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

"You can wait around and hope, but I tell you, you'll never see the likes of this again." - Frank Sinatra (as himself in 'That's Entertainment')

Gene Kelly presents a tribute to Fred Astaire
It's time to relive the music, the movies, the memories, the magic and the stars as some of MGM's greatest Hollywood stars reunite at the MGM studio to celebrate the 50th anniversary of MGM in 'That's Entertainment' (1974).

Produced, written and directed by Jack Haley Jr. (son Jack Haley, who played the Tin Man in 'The Wizard of Oz'), 'That's Entertainment' presents one of the greatest movie documentaries of all time paying tribute to the MGM musical.

Fred Astaire at the deteriorated set of 'The Bandwagon' 
'That's Entertainment' featuring special appearances from Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, James Stewart, Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor, Mickey Rooney, Bing Crosby and Peter Lawford

Considered to be big risk at the time of it's release, the film turned out to be an enormous success, and became one of the highest grossing films of 1974.

Watch the film trailer:


Liza Minnelli pays tribute to her mother Judy Garland
I won't list every film and musical clip featured in 'That's Entertainment', as there are literally hundreds, but I will list and provide commentary on the highlights within the film - by the way, as you'll see there are many highlights.

  • Overture - Keeping with the tradition of the great Broadway musicals, 'That's Entertainment' commences with red velvet curtains as the overture plays a medley of MGM songs including: 'The Trolley Song', 'Over the Rainbow', 'It's a Most Unusual Day', 'Singin in the Rain' and of course the title track
  • Singin' in the Rain Montage - Following the overture, the film opens with a montage of MGMs greatest anthem 'Singin' in the Rain', from the first time it was performed by Cliff Edwards in 'The Hollywood Revue' (1929), through to Judy Garland's version in 'Little Nellie Kelly' and finally Gene Kelly (1940), Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor singing the film in 'Singin' in the Rain' (1952)
  • Frank Sinatra is the first star to make an appearance tracing the origins of the MGM musical, including clips from the first ever movie musical, 'The Broadway Melody' (1929)
  • Glamourous Elizabeth Taylor is next, sharing her musical debut as a child in the film 'Cynthia' (1947)
  • Peter Lawford provides some insights into the style and form of the MGM musical
  • James Stewart continues with the transition of silent film into talking films, and shows footage of dramatic actors (including himself) who although not singers were forced into appearing in musicals - other actors featured include Robert Montgomery, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford and Cary Grant... the segment concludes with a special tribute to Clark Gable
  • Mickey Rooney appears outside the house where the 'Andy Hardy' series of films were made, and pays tribute to the low budget backyard musicals he made in the 1930s and 1940s with Judy Garland, and directed by Busby Berkeley
  • Gene Kelly reveals the greatest dancing partner he has ever danced with to be Fred Astaire, before going into an Astaire tribute
  • Donald O'Connor continues with a special tribute to the million dollar mermaid, Esther Williams
  • Debbie Reynolds takes us into the MGM 25th anniversary dinner, where we see footage of some great stars such as Errol Flynn, Angela Lansbury, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Claude Jarmin Jr. and Greer Garson, before paying tribute to two of my favourite stars Ann Miller and Mario Lanza
  • Showboat montage - A montage of songs from the first great musical epic 'Showboat' starring Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Marge & Gower Champion, Joe E. Brown and Ava Gardner... featured songs include 'Cotton Blossom', 'Make Believe' and the immortal 'Ol Man River'
  • Fred Astaire appears next on the deteriorated train station set from 'The Bandwagon' (1953), and reciprocates Gene Kelly's gesture with a special tribute to the great Gene Kelly
  • Liza Minnelli, labelled MGM's "crown princess", presents a special tribute to her mother, Judy Garland
  • Bing Crosby presents footage from his two MGM movies 'Going Hollywood' (1933) and 'High Society' (1956), and a special montage from the Oscar winning film 'Gigi' (1958)
  • Frank Sinatra returns and concludes with introducing an abridged version of the 'American in Paris Ballet' from 'An American in Paris' (1951)
  • Glamourous Elizabeth Taylor
    in 'That's Entertainment'
  • The theatrical experience ends with the red velvet curtains once again and exit music to entertain the audience as they leave the cinema

Debbie Reynolds in 'That's Entertainment'

Featured performers (in alphabetical order):

June Allyson, Leon Ames, Kay Armen, Edward Arnold, Fred Astaire, Ethel Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Scotty Beckett, Wallace Beery, Ray Bolger, Joe E. Brown, Virginia Bruce, Jack Buchanan, Billie Burke, Leslie Caron, Carleton Carpenter, Cyd Charisse, George Cleveland, Maurice Chevalier, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Xavier Cugat, Arlene Dahl, Virginia Dale, Jacques d'Amboise, Lili Damita, Vic Damone, Gloria DeHaven, Tom Drake, Jimmy Durante, Deanna Durbin, Buddy Ebsen, Nelson Eddy, Cliff Edwards, Vera-Ellen, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Betty Garrett, Greer Garson, Hermione Gingold, Cary Grant, Kathryn Grayson, Virginia Grey, Jack Haley, Jean Harlow, Bernadene Hayes, Van Heflin, Katharine Hepburn, Lena Horne, Lottice Howell, Claude Jarman Jr., Betty Jaynes, Van Johnson, Allan Jones, Jennifer Jones, Louis Jourdan, Buster Keaton, Howard Keel, Grace Kelly, Charles King, Lorraine Krueger, Burt Lahr, Fernando Lamas, Angela Lansbury, Mario Lanza, Peter Lawford, Ruta Lee, Jeanette MacDonald, Marjorie Main, Joan Marsh, Tony Martin, Douglas McPhail, Ann Miller, Sidney Miller, Carmen Miranda, Ricardo Montalban, Robert Montgomery, Agnes Moorehead, Natalie Moorhead, Dennis Morgan, Frank Morgan, Jules Munshin, George Murphy, Conrad Nagel, J. Carrol Naish, Julie Newmar, The Nicholas Brothers, Fayard Nicholas, Harold Nicholas, Margaret O'Brien, Virginia O'Brien, Donald O'Connor, Reginald Owen, Walter Pidgeon, Marc Platt, Paul Porcasi, Eleanor Powell, Jane Powell, June Preisser, Richard Quine, Tommy Rall, Debbie Reynolds, Jeff Richards, Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Selena Royle, Norma Shearer, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, James Stewart, Paula Stone, Russ Tamblyn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sidney Toler, Audrey Totter, Spencer Tracy, William Warfield, Virginia Weidler, Esther Williams, Robert Young

Did you know...

Frank Sinatra in 'That's Entertainment'
  • 'That's Entertainment' was originally intended to be a TV special, however the concept was expanded into a feature film 
  • The success of 'That's Entertainment' was followed by two sequels
  • Gene Kelly was the first star who agreed to appear in the film and was responsible in recruiting many of the others
  • This was the last feature film to be shot at MGM studios - the studio was bulldozed and demolished for property development shortly after the film was released
  • The song "Good Morning" from 'Singin' in the Rain' (1952), was originally to appear in Debbie Reynolds section, but cut before releases - the song was later included in 'That's Entertainment, Part II' (1976), and the song with Reynolds' narration was included in the promotional short film 'Just One More Time' (1974)

Closing remarks

'That's Entertainment' is still my favourite documentary film of all time. That may be because I am such a big fan of MGM musicals, and the stars of MGM - but even without this bias, the film is entertaining and insightful to even classic film novice.

The stars are all great, however I don't feel Bing Crosby and Donald O'Connor should have appeared in this film, as they did not appear in many MGM films. I would have preferred to have seen more regular MGM stars instead, such as Ann Miller, Esther Williams or Angela Lansbury.

The only disappointment I have with 'That's Entertainment' is the complete absence of Doris Day musicals - fortunately footage of Doris Day would appear in 'That's Entertainment II' and 'That's Entertainment III'.

The tagline on the original movie poster read "That's Entertainment! Boy, do we need it now!" - we needed it then, and almost 40 years later we still need it now!

In the Cool of the Day (1968) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

'In the Cool of the Day' is a 1968 drama starring Peter Finch, Jane Fonda, Angela Lansbury, Arthur Hill, Nigel Davenport and Constance Cummings.

Sam has begun drinking after his wife Christine (played by Fonda) leaves him. Shortly after Christine meets Sam's friend, Murray (played by Finch), who is having problems with his wife Sybil
(played by Lansbury). Eventually Murray and Christine become lovers.

Family relationships

Christine does not have a good relationship with her mother. Shortly after seeing her mother at a restaurant, Christine tells Murray: "She's everything I'm afraid I might be: selfish and unloving". Additionally she is concerned she is beginning to look and sound like her mother.

Murray does not have a good relationship with his wife, Sibyl. She blames him for an accident which left her face scarred and caused the death of their son. She tells Murray "I know you don't like being reminded of it, but you are responsible you know". This constant reminder leads Murray to later tell Christine he feels responsible for what happened. Sybil is also very self conscious "I hate being stared at". Surprisingly Sybil agrees to travel to Greece with Murray & Christine. To obscure her face, Sylbil wears a hat with a veil. Whilst in Greece, Sybil suspects there is some attraction between Christine & Murray. Sybil tells Murray: "I don't even think she's pretty. She's thin as a bean".

Musical program

  • Title song "In the Cool of the Day" sung by Nat King Cole
  • Sybil listens to Judy Garland's recording of "Something Over the Rainbow"

Closing remarks

Average drama, which at times is a little slow. Angela Lansbury delivers a great performance, as does  Jane Fonda, who seems to resemble Cleopatra with her hairstyle & long fringe.

All Fall Down (1962) - Star of the month Angela Lansbury

"I never know what I'm going to do next. I just follow the breeze. I just live for kicks." - Warren Beatty (as Berry-Berry Willart in 'All Fall Down')

'All Fall Down' is a 1962 drama directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Warren Beatty, Angela Lansbury, Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint & Brandon deWilde.

Produced by John Houseman, the screenplay was written by William Inge, which was adapted from the novel by James Leo Herlihy.

Young drifter Berry-Berry Willart (played by Beatty) is a rebel with nowhere to go. He finds himself in and out of jail, and keeps away from his controlling mother, Annabel Willart (played by Lansbury) and father Ralph Willart (played by Karl Malden). His younger Clinton Willart (played by deWilde) idolises Berry-Berry, but soon discovers his nasty side when Echo (played by Saint), the daughter of a family friend stays with the Willarts.

Watch a short video about the film:

Family relationships

This film is all about family relationships.

The film's very first line informs the viewer the film is going to be about the relationship between two brothers, as Clinton says: "It seems that I've been on this crummy bus half my life, but I still think its worth it, because in a couple of minutes for the first time in over a year I'm going to see my brother Barry Barry".  At this point, Clinton idolizes and looks up to his older brother, Berry-Berry.

Also from the start of the film the viewer is informed of Berry-Berry's temper and wild behavior as we discover he is in jail. We are not informed of why he is in jail, which leads to suspense and curiosity as the we anxiously wait to find out. The waitress at the bar tells Clinton "if Berry-Berry was my brother, I wouldn't go around bragging about it", before escorting him to the door. Once we, along with Clinton finally meet Berry-Berry, Clinton tells him: "I don't want to go home. I want to stay with you".  Once we see what Clinton's home life is like with his parents, we can empathise with this statement.  Despite Clinton's strong admiration for his brother, the relationship between the two gradually deteriorates after Echo comes between the two.

Berry-Berry & Clinton's relationship with their mother is very different to most maternal relationships. They call their mother by her first name, Annabelle. Despite her controlling and to a degree manipulative ways, Annabelle does have good intentions. She loves her boys very much, and even makes Clinton pancakes for breakfast which he chooses to not eat. Instead opting to make his own breakfast.   At Christmastime, Annabelle is both surprised and grateful when Clinton gives her a gift. She asks him "For me?", as if she is doubting his generosity. In the film, Annabelle delivers one of my favourite statements: "Eavesdroppers never hear anything good about themselves." When you think about it, it's very true.

Clinton gives his mother Annabelle a Christmas gift - "For me?" she asks

Closing remarks

Overall, the film delivers a brilliant character study on family relationships, as well as tackling controversial issues such as female battery, adultery, and the female predator (cougar) prying on young men.  Despite taking 30 mins to introduce and develop the principle cast, the film is pure entertainment from the very beginning until the end. My favourite scene in the film occurs during Christmas time when Ralph invites 3 homeless tramps into their home, and Annabelle literally pays them $10 to leave.

Harold Arlen's Home Movies (2005) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

'Harold Arlen's Home Movies' is a 2005 montage film of behind the scenes home movie footage shot by composer Harold Arlen on the set of 'The Wizard of Oz' (1939).

The short film runs 4m30s and is introduced by Angela Lansbury.

We Haven't Really Met Properly (2005) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

'We Haven't Really Met Properly' is a 2005 video essay discussing the stars of The Wizard of Oz' (1939)

Narrated by Angela Lansbury, we are introduced to:
- the great Frank Morgan
- Ray Bolger
- Bert Lahr
- Jack Haley
- the beautiful Billie Bourke
- Margaret Hamilton
- Charley Grapewin
- Clara Blandick
- Terry the Dog (who played Toto)

An interesting documentary which has lots of interesting trivia, including:
- W.C. Fields was almost cast as The Wizard Of Oz
- Ray Bolger almost turned down appearing in 'The Wizard of Oz' as he was originally offered the role of Tin Man

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Wizard Of Oz Outtakes & Deleted Scenes - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

'The Wizard Of Oz Outtakes & Deleted Scenes' is a 2005 collection of deleted scenes from the film 'The Wizard Of Oz' (1939).

Each clip is individually introduced by Angela Lansbury.

The following clips are featured:

  • "If I Only Had a Brain" - entire song, including Ray Bolger's deleted dance break
  • "If I Only Had a Heart" - audio recording by Buddy Ebsen, who was originally cast as the Tin Man; the recording is accompanied by production stills
  • "Triumphal Return to Emerald City" - audio recording of this deleted musical number, accompanied by production stills
  • "Over the Rainbow (Reprise)" - audio recording of a song intended to be sung while Dorothy is locked in the witches castle, accompanied by production still
  • "The Jitterbug" - audio recording of a musical number cut after the first preview, accompanied by production stills and rehearsal footage filmed by composer Harold Arlen

Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook (2005) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook' is a 2005 short film consisting of an abridged retelling of the L. Frank Baum book, 'The Wizard Of Oz'.

Narrated by Angela Lansbury, with illustrations by W.W. Denslow.

I like how this short film remains faithful to the original book, rather than the 1939 film adaptation:

  • The silver shoes, rather than ruby slippers
  • Tin Man is known as The Tin Woodsman
  • The army of mice rescue Dorothy from the poppy field - in the movie they are rescued by Glinda the Good Witch of the North
  • The Wicked Witch of the West has one eye - in the movie she has two
  • The attack of 40 wolves, 40 crows & 40 bees - this was not shown in the movie
  • Battling through the china pottery people and hammerheads - this was not shown in the movie
  • Glinda is the Good Witch of the South - in the movie she is of the North
  • To return to Kansas, Dorothy chants "Take me home to Aunt Em" instead of "There's no place like home"

A Life at Stake (1954) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

'A Life at Stake' is a 1954 film noir directed by Paul Guilfoyle and starring Angela Lansbury, Keith Andes and Jane Darwell.

Achitect and builder Edward Shaw (played by Andes) is approached by Doris Hillman (played by Lansbury) to purchase land together, to which Edward would build houses and Doris would sell. Doris' husband Gus Hillman (played by ) is willing to fund $500,000.

After beginning an affair with Doris, Edward finds Doris is more interested in the $175,000 life insurance policy he has on his life and begins to believe she is trying to kill him.

Closing remarks

Suspenseful film noir with great music score by Les Baxter. Angela Lansbury plays a good femme fatale and is rather seductive in a bathing suit by the pool.  Jane Darwell delivers a memorable character performance as the nosy landlord. The final 10 minutes of the film were suspenseful, with a slightly predictable, yet somewhat surprising ending.

Making of Death on the Nile (1978) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

'The Making of Death on the Nile' is a 22 minute behind the scenes featurette on the making of the 1978 film 'Death on the Nile'.

The featurette begins with footage from the steamboat Karnak replica at Pinewood Studios, and it's transformation into the Nile.

The documentary features interviews with:
- actor Sir Peter Ustinov on his portrayal of Poirot
- producer John Brabourne on Agatha Christie's thoughts on her books being filmed
- actor David Niven, who is reading a vintage newspaper
- actor Jon Finch, who talks about his character
- production designer Peter Murton who talks about his set design
- co-producer Richard Goodwin on the all-star cast
- Actor George Kennedy on the professionalism of actress Bette Davis

Clips from the film are also featured throughout the special.

Death on the Nile (1978) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

"Come on, Bowers, it's time to go. This place is beginning to resemble a mortuary." - Bette Davis (as Mrs. Van Shuyler in 'Death on the Nile')

'Death on the Nile' is a 1978 filming of the great Agatha Christie murder mystery,

We journey down the nile with Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, David Niven, Maggie Smith, George Kennedy, jack Warden, Olivia Hussey, Lois Chiles, Jane Birkin, Simon MacCorkindale, Harry Andrews, Jon Finch and Sir Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot.

Jacqueline de Bellefort (played by Farrow) introduces her best friend Linnet Ridgeway (played by Chiles) to her boyfriend Simon Doyle (played by MacCorkindale). Shortly after the introduction Simon & Linnet marry and take a honeymoon to Egypt. In a jealous rage they are followed by Jacqueline.

Also in Egypt are Linnet's Uncle Andrew Pennington (played by Kennedy); the rich Mrs Van Shuyler (played by Davis) and her companion Miss Bowers (played by Smith); bohemian Mr. Ferguson (played by Finch); eccentric novelist Mrs. Otterbourne (played by Lansbury); her daughter Rosalie (played by Hussey); Dr. Bessner (played by Warden); Colonel Race (played by Niven); and his friend, the world famous Belgian detective Hercules Poirot (played by Ustinov.

The group take a cruise along the Nile on the boat the SS Karnak, where suddenly Linnet is found murdered.

The suspects

Virtually everyone on the boat is considered a suspect except for Colonel Race & of course, Poirot.

Was it Mrs Otterbourne, whom Linnet is taking to court? (or her daughter Rosalie?)
Was it Andrew Pennington, who is trying to embezzle Linnet's money?
Was it Jacqueline jealous of her marriage to Simon?
Was it Mrs Van Shylur, who had her eyes on Linnet's pearls?
Was it Dr. Bessner, whose reputation as a doctor Linnet is discrediting?
Was it Miss Bowers, whose father was ruined by Linnet's family?
Was it Jim Ferguson who said: "in a sane world, she'd be bumped off as a warning to the others"

As you can see, all of the above characters have a strong motivation to kill Linnet. Poirot says it best: "Mon dieu, how she makes enemies of them all"

Did you know...

  • Filming was stopped each day at noon for two hours as temperatures reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit - make up for the stars began at 4am, with shooting scheduled for 6am
  • Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury and Mia Farrow shared a dressing room during filming
  • The film was shot on board paddle steamer, Memnon - one of few paddle steamers remaining on the Nile
  • Albert Finney was initially asked to reprise the role of Poirot (after playing Poirot in 'Murder on the Orient Express' (1976)), however Finney the make up he wore too uncomfortable and declined the role
  • Michael York was attached to the project at one stage
  • Cybill Shepherd declined the role of Linnet Ridgeway
  • The film was originally going to be called 'Murder on the Nile'
  • The second Brabourne-Goodwin production of an Agatha Christie novel
  • The first of six films where Peter Ustinov played Hercule Poirot
  • Bette Davis allegedly brought her own make up, mirrors and lights to Egypt, in case they didn't have any there

Awards and nominations

  • Academy Award winner for Best Costume Design (Anthony Powell)
  • BAFTA Award winner for Best Costume Design (Anthony Powell)
  • BAFTA Award nomination for Best Actor (Sir Peter Ustinov)
  • BAFTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury)
  • BAFTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Maggie Smith)
  • Edgar Allen Poe Award nomination for Best Motion Picture
  • Evening Standard British Film Award winner for Best Film
  • Evening Standard British Film Award winner for Best Actor (Sir Peter Ustinov)
  • Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Foreign Film (England)
  • National Board of Review Award winner for Best Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury)

Closing remarks

'Death on the Nile' is my favourite filming of an Agatha Christie novel. It has a first class all star cast, beautiful location filming in Egypt and a compelling storyline - although it does take just over an hour for the first murder to take place.

The film presents spectacular footage of many Egyptian landmarks such as the Sphinx, the Great Pyramids, and the temples of Abu Simbel and Karnak.  Intricate Oscar winning costume design features Bette Davis wearing shoes made from the scales of 26 pythons and Lois Chiles in diamond-studded heels.

First class murder and death on the Nile!

Jerry Herman's Broadway (1993) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

'Jerry Herman's Broadway at the Hollywood Bowl' is a 1993 filmed recording of a special concert paying tribute to the great musical legacy of composer Jerry Herman. The concert event features performances by Bea Arthur, Carol Channing, Michael Feinstein, Davis Gaines, George Hearn, Florence Lacey, Lorna Lift, Rita Moreno, Karen Morrow, Lee Roy Reams & Leslie Uggams. Special video messages from Angela Lansbury, Liza Minnelli & Paul and Linda McCartney are also featured.

After a filmed introduction message from Liza Minnelli & a hilarious opening address by the great Carol Channing, the opening number is "It's Today" from Mame, performed by Leslie Uggams.

Other musical highlights include:

  • "Movies Were Movies" (from 'Mack & Mabel') - George Hearn
  • "Put On Your Sunday Clothes / Before the Parade Passes By" (from 'Hello Dolly') - Lee Roy Reams
  • "Wherever He Ain't" (from 'Mack & Mabel') - Lorna Luft, Karen Morrow & Florence Lacey
  • "Take It All Off" (from 'Jerry's Girls') - Lorna Luft & chorus... Lorna wears a burlesque fat suit
  • "We Need a Little Xmas" (from 'Mame') - Karen Morrow
  • "If He Walked Into My Life" (from 'Mame') - Leslie Uggams
  • "Hello Dolly (Medley)" (from 'Hello Dolly) is the Act I finale featuring:
    • impressions of Carol Channing, Sammy Davis Jr, Ethel Merman & Louis Armstrong
    • Leslie Uggams "Deli Taste"
    • Lorna Luft singing it
    • international ballet (Brazilian, Chinese, Viking woman, French can can
    • finally the original & best Dolly Levi, Miss Carol Channing
  • An appearance from Bea Arthur, who made her debut as Vera in 'Mame', and she sings "The Man in the Moon" from 'Mame'
  • "Bosom Buddies" (from 'Mame') - Rita Moreno & Leslie Uggams
  • "Time Heals Everything" (from 'Mack & Mabel') - Lorna Luft (I got goosebumps during this performance as it is obvious Lorna is singing this about her mother, Judy Garland)
  • A video message from Angela Lansbury in Ireland taking about 'Mame'
  • An instrumental of the song "Mame" with a photo montage of Angela Lansbury on broadway & Lucille ball In the movie
  • "I Won't Send Roses" (from 'Mack & Mabel') - Michael Feinstein
  • "Tap Your Troubles Away" (from 'Mack & Mabel') - Rita Moreno (showing us she's still got it)
  • "Kiss Her Now" - Leslie Uggams & Florence Lacey
  • "I Am What I Am" (from 'La Cage aux Folles') - George Hearn
  • "The Best of Times" (from 'La Cage aux Folles') - Jerry Herman and the entire cast

A Breath of Scandal (1960) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

'A Breath of Scandal' is a 1960 romantic comedy starring Sophia Loren, John Gavin, Maurice Chevalier & Angela Lansbury, and is based on the play 'Olympia' by Molnar.

Princess Olympia (played by Loren) is exiled from the Imperial Court of Franz Joseph for "scandalous indiscretions". Her exile will be pardoned if she agrees to an arranged marriage to Rupert zu Wigenstorf of Prussia, and until the wedding she is told "not a breath of scandal" must touch her. After going for a ride on her stallion she is involved in an accident with American Charlie Foster (played by Gavin), whom she romances.   In an attempt to sabotage the wedding Countess Lina (played by Lansbury) agrees to sponsor Charlie to aid his integration into Viennese society and get him closer to Olympia.

Closing remarks

Despite the bad reviews I have read, I really enjoyed this film.  Sophia Loren is flaming hot (even more than usual), Angela Lansbury is brilliant as the gossiping Countess, and Maurice Chevalier is fantastic as the womanizing prince.

Complimented with lavish costumes and authentic art direction, 'A Breath of Scandal' makes for a great costume-period piece with some great stars.

Sweeney Todd (1982) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

"Seems an awful waste, I mean with the price of meat, what it is when you get it, if you get it... Good, you got it!" - Angela Lansbury (as Mrs Lovett in 'Sweeney Todd')

'Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street' is a 1982 filmed recording of the Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical thriller. Directed by Terry Hughes and starring Angela Lansbury, George Hearne, Cris Groenendaal, Sara Woods, Edmund Lyndeck, Calvin Remsberg, Betsy Joslyn, Sal Mistretta & Kenneth Jennings.

 this was filmed live in Los Angeles.

'Sweeney Todd' is the macabre story of barber, Sweeney Todd, who murders his clients and Nellie, Lovett, his accomplice who minces the victim's bodies and bakes them into pies. 

Here is a montage of memorable clips from the recording:

Musical highlights

  • "The Worst Pies in London" - Angela Lansbury
  • "My Friends" - George Hearne & Angela Lansbury
  • "Green Finch & Linnet Bird" - Betsy Joslyn
  • "Johanna" - Cris Groenendaal
  • "Pretty Women" - George Hearne & Edmund Lyndeck
  • "Epiphany" - Angela Lansbury & George Hearne
  • "A Little Priest" - Angela Lansbury & George Hearne
  • "Not While I'm Around" - Angela Lansbury & Kenneth Jennings

Song: "The Worst Pies in London" - Angela Lansbury

Song: "A Little Priest" - Angela Lansbury & George Hearne

Song: "Not While I'm Around" - Angela Lansbury & Kenneth Jennings

Closing remarks

'Sweeney Todd' is 1983 ultimate tale of revenge with a dark comedic twist with one of the most sinister looking characters you'll ever see on the stage or screen.

Angela Lansbury is brilliant in this! In my opinion this was the greatest role of her career. It really pleases me to hear Lansbury's singing voice in this recording, as she was always dubbed in her early MGM film roles as her voice was not considered good enough. In Sweeney Todd, Lansbury proves she can sing, and quite well at that.

This is a production with high quality performances all round, and one of my favourite live filmings of a stage musical.

Watching this film reminds me of why I don't eat meat pies. You really don't know what is put into them. ;)   For those of you who enjoy meat pies, I would not recommend watching this film.