|Directed by||Jack Haley, Jr.|
|Produced by||Jack Haley Jr.|
|Written by||Jack Haley Jr.|
|Music by||Henry Mancini|
|Running time||134 minutes|
The film, compiled by its writer-producer-director, Jack Haley, Jr., under the supervision of executive producer Daniel Melnick, turned the spotlight on MGM's legacy of musical film from the 1920s through the 1950s, featuring performances culled from dozens of the studio's famous films. Archive footage of Judy Garland, Eleanor Powell, Lena Horne, Esther Williams, Ann Miller, Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Jeanette MacDonald, Cyd Charisse, June Allyson, Mickey Rooney, Mario Lanza, William Warfield, and many others was featured.
The various segments were hosted by a succession of the studio's legendary stars: Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Peter Lawford, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Mickey Rooney, Bing Crosby, James Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, and Liza Minnelli (representing her mother, Judy Garland).
Most of the hosts were filmed on MGM's famous backlot, which looks disturbingly ramshackle and rundown in this film, because MGM had sold the property to developers and the sets were about to be demolished (several of the stars, including Bing Crosby, remark on this during their segments). The most notable degradation can be seen when Fred Astaire revisits the ruins of a train station set that had been used in the opening of The Band Wagon two decades earlier, and when Peter Lawford revisits exteriors used in his late-40s musical, Good News. That's Entertainment! was the last major project to be filmed on the backlot.
The title of the film derives from the anthemic song "That's Entertainment!", by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, which was introduced in the 1953 MGM musical, The Band Wagon. The title is usually expressed with an exclamation mark, but it is also correct to refer to it without (see the DVD cover).
|“||Over the years, under the leadership of Louis B. Mayer and others, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has produced a series of musical films whose success and artistic merit remain unsurpassed in motion picture history. There were literally thousands of people .... artists, craftsmen and technicians .... who poured their talents into the creation of the great MGM musicals. This film is dedicated to them.||”|
—Opening titles of That's Entertainment!
Musical numbers featured
- "Singin' in the Rain" Prologue - Cliff Edwards from The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929), Jimmy Durante with Sidney Toler from Speak Easily (1932), Judy Garland from Little Nellie Kelly and the main title sequence from Singin' in the Rain (Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O'Connor)
- "The Broadway Melody" - Charles King and Ensemble from The Broadway Melody (1929)
- "Rosalie" - Eleanor Powell and Ensemble from Rosalie (1937)
- "Indian Love Call" - Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald from Rose-Marie (1936)
- "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" - Dennis Morgan (dubbed by Allan Jones), Virginia Bruce, and Ziegfeld Girls from The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
- "Begin the Beguine" - Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell from Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)
- "The Song's Gotta Come from the Heart" - Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Durante from It Happened in Brooklyn (1947)
- "The Melody of Spring" - Elizabeth Taylor from Cynthia (1947)
- "Honeysuckle Rose" - Lena Horne from Thousands Cheer" (1943)
- "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" - Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra from Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949)
- "Thou Swell" - June Allyson from Words and Music (1948)
- "The Varsity Drag" - June Allyson, Peter Lawford, and Ensemble from Good News (1947)
- "Abba Dabba Honeymoon" - Debbie Reynolds and Carleton Carpenter from Two Weeks with Love (1950)
- "It's a Most Unusual Day" - Jane Powell with Wallace Beery, Scotty Beckett, and George Cleveland from A Date with Judy (1948)
- "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" - Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Virginia O'Brien, Cyd Charisse, Marjorie Main, and Ensemble from The Harvey Girls (1946)
- "It Must Be You" - Robert Montgomery and Lottice Howell from Free and Easy (1930)
- "Got a Feelin' for You" - Joan Crawford (introduced by Conrad Nagel) from The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)
- "Reckless" - Jean Harlow (dubbed by Virginia Verrill) & Ensemble from Reckless (1935)
- "Did I Remember" - Jean Harlow (dubbed by Virginia Verrill) and Cary Grant from Suzy (1936)
- "Easy to Love" - James Stewart and Eleanor Powell from Born to Dance (1936)
- "Puttin' on the Ritz" - Clark Gable and Ensemble from Idiot's Delight (1939)
- "Dear Mr. Gable (You Made Me Love You)" - Judy Garland from Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)
- "Babes in Arms" - Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Douglas McPhail, Betty Jaynes, and Ensemble from Babes in Arms (1939)
- "Hoe Down" - Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, and Ensemble from Babes on Broadway (1941)
- "Do the La Conga" - Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland with Sidney Miller and Ensemble from Strike Up the Band (1940)
- "Waitin' for the Robert E. Lee"/"Babes On Broadway" - Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Virginia Weidler, and Ensemble from Babes on Broadway (1941)
- "Strike Up the Band" - Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, June Preisser, and Ensemble from Strike Up the Band (1940)
- "The Babbitt and the Bromide" - Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire from Ziegfeld Follies (1946)
- "They Can't Take That Away from Me" - Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers from The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)
- "Heigh Ho the Gang's All Here" - Fred Astaire and Joan Crawford from Dancing Lady (1933)
- "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan" - Fred Astaire and Jack Buchanan from The Band Wagon (1953)
- "Sunday Jumps" - Fred Astaire from Royal Wedding (1951)
- "Shoes with Wings On" - Fred Astaire from The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)
- "You're All the World to Me" - Fred Astaire from Royal Wedding (1951)
- "Dancing in the Dark" - Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse from The Band Wagon (1953)
- Esther Williams Montage: includes water ballets from Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) and Bathing Beauty (1944)
- "I Wanna Be Loved by You" - Debbie Reynolds (dubbed by Helen Kane) from Three Little Words (1950)
- "I Gotta Hear That Beat" - Ann Miller from Small Town Girl (1953)
- "Be My Love" - Kathryn Grayson, Mario Lanza from The Toast of New Orleans (1950)
- "Make 'Em Laugh" - Donald O'Connor from Singin' in the Rain (1952)
- "Cotton Blossom/ Make Believe/ Ol' Man River" - Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, William Warfield, and Ensemble from Show Boat (1951)
- "By Myself" - Fred Astaire from The Band Wagon (1953)
- "Be a Clown" - Gene Kelly & The Nicholas Brothers from The Pirate (1948)
- "The Children's Dance" - Gene Kelly from Living in a Big Way (1947)
- "Mack the Black Dream Ballet" - Gene Kelly from The Pirate (1948)
- "La Cumparsita" Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh (1945)
- "New York, New York" - Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin from On the Town (1949)
- "The Worry Song" - Gene Kelly and Jerry Mouse from Anchors Aweigh (1945)
- "Singin' in the Rain" - Gene Kelly from Singin' in the Rain (1952)
- "Broadway Melody Ballet" - Gene Kelly and Ensemble from Singin' in the Rain (1952)
- "La Cucaracha" - The Garland Sisters with Paul Porcasi from La Fiesta de Santa Barbara (1935)
- "Waltz with a Swing/Americana" - Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin from Every Sunday (1936)
- "Your Broadway and My Broadway" - Judy Garland and Buddy Ebsen from Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)
- "Follow the Yellow Brick Road/If I Only Had the Nerve/We're Off to See the Wizard" - Judy Garland, Bert Lahr, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, and Ensemble from The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- "Over the Rainbow" - Judy Garland from The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- "But Not for Me" - Judy Garland from Girl Crazy (1943)
- "The Trolley Song/Under the Bamboo Tree/The Boy Next Door" - Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, and Ensemble from Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)
- "Get Happy" - Judy Garland from Summer Stock (1950)
- "Going Hollywood" - Bing Crosby and Ensemble from Going Hollywood (1933)
- "Well, Did You Evah" - Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra from High Society (1956)
- "True Love" - Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly from High Society (1956)
- "Hallelujah" - Tony Martin, Ann Miller, Vic Damone, Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell, Russ Tamblyn, and Ensemble from Hit the Deck (1955)
- "Barnraising Dance (Bless Your Beautiful Hide)" from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
- "Gigi" - Louis Jourdan from Gigi (1958)
- "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" - Maurice Chevalier from Gigi (1958)
- "An American in Paris Ballet" - Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, and Ensemble from An American in Paris (1951)
Despite statements made in the original theatrical trailer and promotional material that such a production would never be repeated, That's Entertainment! is one of the few documentaries to spawn official sequels—either two or three, depending upon one's criteria.
In 1976, That's Entertainment, Part II was released. The idea of multiple hosts was dropped for this production, with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly partnering to co-host the retrospective, which expanded beyond musicals to pay tribute to dramatic and comedy stars as well. The film is highlighted by Astaire and Kelly dancing together on film for the last time.
In 1985, That's Dancing! was released, a retrospective that looked back at the history of dancing in film (unlike the That's Entertainment! films, however, this documentary did not focus exclusively on MGM productions). This film is sometimes considered part of the That's Entertainment! series, especially since its starting credits contain a card with the That's Entertainment! III title (not to be confused with the 1994 film), but even though it shared studio and producers, it is considered a separate production.
Finally, in 1994, That's Entertainment! III was released, which featured more retrospectives with a focus on previously unreleased (or rarely seen) material cut from the MGM films.
Gene Kelly is the only individual to host in all four films.
All three That's Entertainment! films were released to DVD in 2004. The box set collection of the films included a bonus DVD that included additional musical numbers that had been cut from MGM films as well as the first release of the complete performance of "Mr. Monotony" by Judy Garland (the version used in That's Entertainment! III is truncated). That's Dancing! received a separate DVD release in 2007. The original trilogy also received a Blu-ray release in the late 2000s, with the bonus disc eliminated in favor of spreading its contents as bonuses among the three films.
- That's Entertainment!, Box Office Information. The Numbers. Retrieved May 22, 2012.