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Warner Home Video presents
"We've danced the whole night through,
DVD ReviewAs a cinematic rule of thumb, production of movie sequels usually commence anywhere from two to three years after the original fades from view. In the case of That's Entertainment! III, nearly two decades passed before the powers that be gave the okay to drop the pedal and go. Good thing too, because only a precious few stars from those magical MGM movie musicals were still around to bask in the spotlight once more and take another well earned curtain call.
With the two previous films capturing nearly five hours of absolute highlights, even the most ardent song and dance aficionados probably felt the cream of the crop had been picked clean. But yet, there was still an abundance of quality material left unrepresented. More tellingly and surprisingly, many buried treasures thought lost or discarded from the golden days of Metro surfaced to give this coda one heck of a selling point—and those of us hungry for another entertaining entrée of "all singing, all dancing" were ever so ready to dig right in.
Among the most dazzling moments of the newly discovered treats: A rare behind-the-scenes look at MGM's soundstage crew in action, working their out-of-frame magic enhancing Eleanor Powell's fancy footwork on Fascinating Rhythm; two wildly diverse performers lip-synching to the same vocal track for two different film projects (Joan Crawford and Cyd Charrise, the latter of which had her performance of Two Faced Woman excised from The Band Wagon prior to release);and an obviously fatigued and unwell Judy Garland trying gamely to muster up her trademark energy on I'm An Indian Too during her short-lived tenure on the Busby Berkley-directed Annie Get Your Gun. But on the flip side of the coin, we see the queen of MGM musicals at her sassy best on the rare Irving Berlin number, Mr. Monotony, a song cut from Easter Parade, wearing the exact same tux jacket and black hat she would don for her classic Get Happy sequence in Summer Stock two years later. And there's an amazing split-screen sequence showcasing Fred Astaire in outtake/final cut footage tapping away to I'm a Dancin' Man from The Belle of New York, showing just how well choreographed and thought out his routines were in advance (but yet, he made it look so easy, didn't he?)
As interesting and fascinating as these once-concealed clips are, they imminently wither in comparison to the familiar chestnuts and semi-obscurities that make up the bulk of the movie.Some of these are:a rowdy pre-code number featuring practically nude singing beauties showering to Clean as a Whistle (from Hollywood Party); Vera Ellen (one of Hollywood's most underrated hoofers, in my book) in a steamy dancing duet with Gene Kelly accompanied by Richard Rogers' Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (from Words and Music); and Stereophonic Sound, a wickedly funny novelty song echoing the movie industry's panic over the mid-1950s ascent of television (and sung by Janis Page with Fred Astaire from Silk Stockings)
From more familiar musicals, there's a little Kansas girl's timeless walk down the Yellow Brick Road (You're Off to See the Wizard) from The Wizard of Oz, the dynamic singing-dancing sextet headed by Frank Sinatra and Kelly marching down the sidewalks of the Big Apple to the title song of On The Town and the quintessential verbal battle of the sexes pitting Howard Keel versus Betty Hutton on Anything You Can Do from Annie Get Your Gun.
Along the way, fitting tributes to Garland, Astaire, and Kelly offer a mix of classic and underrated sequences; special salutes to Esther Williams and Lena Horne provide some of the film's most underrated moments; montage odes to glamour and star quality narrated by Debbie Reynolds and June Allyson, and, in the homestretch, the handing of the torch to a new generation of musicals heralded by a country boy from Mississippi (gee, I wonder what his name is....)
Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+
Image Transfer Review: Being the most recent of the That's Entertainment series and benefiting from advances in restoration and technology, III is beyond beautiful, awash in "glorious technicolor" and very clean monochrome. Even the footage taken from the dawn of the talkies is impressive in its visual clarity and sharpness. A few of the outtake numbers are a still a little rough in quality, but increased resolution helps those look better, too.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: When audio from a creaky 1929 musical sounds like it was just laid down yesterday (without sounding overly compressed or lifeless as some early CD re-masterings of recordings of any genre from this era), you're talking about a first class aural clean-up job. Practically all of the material in the film has never sounded better, particularly when multi-track or experimental pre-stereo sources are utilized. Warm when called for (with low end on the more recent numbers coming across very well), vibrant during the uptempo performances, just the right amount of rear action to make you feel like you're in a vintage movie house. Who could ask for anything more?
Audio Transfer Grade: A+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 38 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsAn exhilarating, briskly-paced, informative and above all, incessantly tuneful coda to a trio of films heralding Hollywood's greatest musical studio, That's Entertainment! III is a magnificent send-off to a cinematic legacy that will forever leave behind "kind of a glow."
Like the other two re-mastered films, my highest recommendation.
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