That's Entertainment! III

That's Lucille Ball whipping a chorus of hellcats in a kinky moment from Ziegfeld Follies. Madonna only thought she invented S&M chic Start the campaign now: I want my Teiii. This third in a series of compilations from MGM musicals (1928--1958) is more fun than a month of Madonna videos. You won't believe Mickey Rooney in Carmen Miranda drag (Babes on Broadway) or Joan Crawford in blackface (Torch Song).

If the new That's Entertainment boasts fewer famous numbers than the first two editions in 1974 and 1976, it handily compensates with indispensable outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage. MGM exec George Feltenstein has been dishing out these delicious extras for years on laser disc, but he surpasses himself here.

Eleanor Powell taps across multiple stages in Lady Be Good, while a split screen displays off-camera technicians frantically moving away each stage so Powell can dance without a cut. There's an unforgettable look at a sadly unfocused Judy Garland performing "I'm an Indian Too," from Annie Get Your Gun (Garland's breakdown led to her replacement by Betty Hutton). Ava Gardner pierces the heart singing "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," from Show Boat, in her own voice; she was dubbed in the finished film. Lena Horne, one of the film's nine hosts, indicts Hollywood racism and introduces a deleted number from Cabin in the Sky that shows her in a bubble bath. The list goes on with moments historic and hilarious from the likes of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Arlene Dahl, Ann Miller, Jimmy Durante and even Elvis. That's more than entertainment, that's pure gold.

From The Archives Issue 682: May 19, 1994