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Warner Home Video presents
That's Entertainment, Part 2 (1976)

"Steppin' out with my baby,
Can't go wrong 'cause I'm in right
Ask me when will the day be,
The big day may be tonight..."

- Fred Astaire (from Easter Parade)

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: October 21, 2004

Stars: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly
Other Stars: Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Ann Miller, Bing Crosby, Debbie Reynolds, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Maurice Chevalier, Betty Hutton, Howard Keel, Red Skelton, Judy Holiday, Laurel & Hardy, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Kathryn Grayson, Donald O'Connor, Ginger Rogers, Bobby Van, Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Taylor, Doris Day, Sammy Cahn, Abbott & Costello, Johnny Weissmuller, Ethel Waters, Jack Benny, Ethel Waters, The Marx Brother, Nanette Fabray, Grace Kelly, Bob Fosse, Vivien Leigh, Roddy McDowall, Lana Turner, James Cagney, Greer Garson, Cary Grant, Robert Benchley, Louis Armstrong, Bob Fosse, Carol Hanley, Marge and Gower Champion, Harry James, Lassie
Director: Gene Kelly (new sequences)

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: G for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 02h:10m:36s
Release Date: October 12, 2004
UPC: 012569691520
Genre: musical

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A+A-B+ C

DVD Review

There are movies that pass through our collective memories like junk food, something to satisfy our craving for fun on a Saturday night and quickly forgotten in the light of day. Then, there are movies of the moment, "event" pics, the ones you have to see to not feel out of place at lunchtime or water cooler conversations, movies you see years later and wonder "what were we thinking?" Then, there are the ones that stay with us for a lifetime. Films that take a hold of our hearts to such extremes that after countless viewings, we put everything else on hold to enjoy it once more if we come across while channel surfing on cable.

One afternoon in 1974, I went to see an afternoon matinee of the first entry, That's Entertainment. Although my musical tastes at the time were of the K-Tel-Top 40-1960s variety (the latter putting me out of favor with kids my own age who referred to The Beatles as "old"), the television commercials lured me in: the color, joy in the singers and dancers' faces, the sheer spectacle of it all, and besides, it had clips from The Wizard of Oz, which was my favorite movie of the time. What kid raised on that movie via yearly NBC broadcasts could pass up the chance to see Dorothy and the gang on the big screen?

It's like an educational seminar in the form of the greatest show on earth, a master class in musicals with Sinatra, Minnelli, and Rooney amongst our instructors. Two years later, That's Entertainment, Part II arrived in theaters as an encore.

Although adhering to pretty much the same formula that made its predecessor so involving, Part II boasted the lure of a historical reunion: the re-teaming of dance legends Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Incredibly, despite their many years as employees at the studio with "more stars than then there are in the heavens," they had only shared the screen in just one movie, and only in a sole number for MGM's 1946 musical anthology, Ziegfield Follies. Originally, the two high-steppers were only to have served the purpose of introducing clips and providing narration. But Fred felt it would be silly for Gene and he just to stand around and talk, so they put on their dancing shoes and tapped in unison for the first time in 30 years as a bonus.

Going into this sequel, one would have thought the well had been drained of archival gems for good use. But with a wealth of musical riches as vast as the home of the lion, MGM was just getting warmed up. From the moment Kelly and Garland warble For Me and My Gal, one showstopper follows another: Eleanor Powell's still awe-inspiring "nobody should be able to tap that fast" footwork to Fascinating Rhythm, Astaire's fancy super slo-mo footwork to Steppin' Out with My Baby, Ol' Man River from Frank Sinatra, Kelly's temptation by Cyd Charisse at the halfway point of the legendary Broadway Melody number from Singin' in the Rain, Astaire's reunion with legendary partner Ginger Rogers (Bouncin' the Blues from The Barkleys of Broadway, their only MGM effort and final film together), Esther Williams' breathtaking water-based number on skis (filmed on location at Cypress Gardens by Busby Berkley) from Dangerous When Wet, the introduction of future standard Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas in its first (and for me, still the definitive version) from Judy Garland... The list of classic performances and tunes just goes on and on.

At times, the hypnotic qualities of the MGM musicals were such that audiences momentarily forgot the studio was also responsible for many of the most prestigious comedies and dramas of the 20th century as home to stars like Garbo, Gable, Harlow, Tracy, Hepburn, and clowns including The Marx Brothers, Jimmy Durante, Buster Keaton, Red Skelton, and Laurel & Hardy. To spice things up and give the hoofers and dancers a breather, a number of great montages along with classic cinematic moments made possible by these performers and countless others are given their due.

If that's not enough, better catch your breath for more: a Kelly-hosted jaunt to Paris for a look at the city that inspired many a musical project, an appearance by songwriter extraordinaire Sammy Cahn (setting up a humorous look at how the tunesmith's craft was depicted in the movies of the period), a nice tip of the hat to short-subject favorite James A. Fitzpatrick (Travel Talks) and many surprising moments including the usually reserved Greta Garbo cuttin' the rug in Two Faced Woman, romantic leading man Robert Taylor crooning I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin' and 1970s game show favorite Bobby Van expressing the joy of springtime love by hopping across the neighborhood (in an amazing single-camera tracking shot) from Small Town Girl.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesyes

Image Transfer Review: When you consider the period of time this entry covers, along with the multitude of variable sources from primitive talkies to the dawn of Technicolor, this is one uniformly fantastic transfer job. A few clips (even some of the newly shot Kelly-Astaire sequences) suffer from touches of dirt or age-related anomalies (especially in films that haven't been restored, or hadn't yet), but they are hardly anything you'll be aggravated by. At its best, the color and sharpness is nothing short of marvelous. Some may be taken aback by the letterboxing of pre-widescreen material, but in a nice touch, the flip side of the disc contains the full-frame version of the film (excepting those moments where the picture automatically defaults to letterbox where appropriate).

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Previously issued on VHS and laser in Dolby Surround, this re-mastering takes that nice, wide stereo (when available and appropriate) and expands it even more nicely into the rears (particularly on the newer segments with Kelly and Astaire exhibiting very cool separation). Although some of the older material still sounds a little rough, most of the fidelity is incredibly consistent and sometimes amazing for pre-stereo material (with excerpts from An American in Paris, Singin' in the Rain and High Society sounding particularly exquisite thanks to enterprising technicians that had the foresight to save primitive multi-angle soundtrack recordings that were digitally preserved some years back).

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Introduction By Turner Classic Movie's Robert Osborne
Extras Review: Unless the film's original trailer and an introduction from Turner Classic Movies' walking encyclopedia Robert Osborne is enough to satisfy you, you're going to have to splurge for Warner's four-disc Special Collector's Edition boxed set containing all three That's Entertainment films and a fourth platter (Treasures from the Vault), which contains a ton of supplemental material.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

A showstopping encore to its predecessor, That's Entertainment, Part 2 is another glorious tour thru more of the greatest moments in movie musical history mixed with laughs and drama from many of the legends that defined Hollywood's first golden age of cinema. As with all the films in this remarkable series, my highest recommendation.


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