The Wizard of Oz
(1939) and oversaw much of MGM's musical output for over two decades. BAMcinématek's "That's Entertainment! MGM Musicals Part I"
stops at 1949, perhaps before the genre's acknowledged peaks. But the series chronicles the rise of Vincente Minnelli with no fewer than five of his films — including the landmark Meet Me in St. Louis
(1944) and the camp classic The Pirate
(1948) — and nods to up-and-comers Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly and the eternally underrated Charles Walters, represented respectively by On the Town
(1949) and Easter Parade
(1948). Though the MGM musical was less identifiable before Freed put his stamp on it, some of the best films in the series precede his tenure &mash; in particular Hallelujah!
(1929), King Vidor's African-American drama, and The Merry Widow
(1934), Ernst Lubitsch's farewell to the operetta."That’s Entertainment!: MGM Musicals Part I" runs through September 21 at BAMcinématek. Click here for the screening schedule.
MGM, Hollywood's most prestigious studio, lost some of its luster in the era of the auteur, but it has never ceded its status as the premier exponent of the film musical. The studio's reputation in this realm is linked to that of producer Arthur Freed, who acquired his own unit within MGM after the success of