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Arts & Culture

Classic Hollywood Musicals

Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain.”
Courtesy of Warner Home Video
Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Airs Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

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Join Nick Clooney and some of our greatest movie stars on a journey of laughter and inspiration that will leave you singing for days.

Nick Clooney hosts this tour of the Golden Age of movie musicals.
Courtesy of Bounce AEG
Nick Clooney hosts this tour of the Golden Age of movie musicals.
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James Cagney (right) as George M. Cohan in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
Courtesy of Warner Home Video
James Cagney (right) as George M. Cohan in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
Ann-Margret and Elvis Presley in “Viva Las Vegas.”
Courtesy of Warner Home Video
Ann-Margret and Elvis Presley in “Viva Las Vegas.”
A scene from “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”
Courtesy of Warner Home Video
A scene from “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”

Featuring some of the most iconic images ever recorded on film, five classic Hollywood musicals—“The Wizard of Oz,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” and “Viva Las Vegas”—take viewers on a journey across the Golden Age of movie musicals, spanning the days from the Great Depression all the way to the Civil Rights Movement.

With foot-stomping dance numbers, Technicolor fantasy worlds, and soaring ballads sung by some of the world’s most beloved stars, these movies still inspire audiences to laugh, love and dream — even when times are tough. "Classic Hollywood Musicals" is hosted by Nick Clooney.

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But bringing these Hollywood classics to life wasn’t easy. If it’s true that “obstacles make for a better picture,” as "The Wizard of Oz" director Victor Fleming once said, then it’s no wonder these movies became great. Ballooning budgets, life-threatening injuries, inexperienced actors, dueling egos—even a declaration of war that literally brought production to a halt—were just a few of the challenges these films had to face in order to become some of the most treasured movies in history.

These five musicals capitalized on established stars, like James Cagney showing off his song and dance skills as Broadway legend George M. Cohan; Gene Kelly singing and dancing at the zenith of his career; and Elvis Presley teaming up with Ann-Margret to set off romantic sparks the likes of which the big screen hasn’t seen before or since.

But new stars were born in these films too: "Singin’ in the Rain" launched the career of 19-year old newcomer Debbie Reynolds, and "The Wizard of Oz" took 16-year old Judy Garland down a yellow brick road to the pinnacle of movie stardom.

Perhaps most important, these films gave the world truly inspiring musical moments: Gene Kelly singin’ and dancin’ in the rain, despite a fever; a barn-raising dance number with seven times the romance; a theme song for Las Vegas; patriotic tunes that inspired generations of young soldiers marching into war; and one little girl singing—and dreaming—of somewhere over the rainbow.

"Classic Hollywood Musicals" features these songs:

  • “Over the Rainbow” (The Wizard of Oz)
  • “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”/“We’re Off to see the Wizard” (The Wizard of Oz)
  • “If I Only Had the Nerve” (The Wizard of Oz)
  • “The Yankee Doodle Boy” (Yankee Doodle Dandy)
  • “Give My Regards to Broadway” (Yankee Doodle Dandy)
  • “You’re a Grand Old Flag” (Yankee Doodle Dandy)
  • “Over There” (Yankee Doodle Dandy)
  • “Make ‘Em Laugh” (Singin’ in the Rain)
  • “Good Mornin’” (Singin’ in the Rain)
  • “Singin’ in the Rain” (Singin’ in the Rain)
  • “Broadway Melody Ballet” (Singin’ in the Rain)
  • “Wonderful, Wonderful Day” (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers)
  • “Goin’ Courtin’” (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers)
  • “Barn Dance” (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers)
  • “Sobbin’ Women” (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers)
  • “Viva Las Vegas” (Viva Las Vegas)
  • “What’d I Say” (Viva Las Vegas)
  • “C’mon Everybody” (Viva Las Vegas)
  • “I Need Somebody to Lean On” (Viva Las Vegas)

Produced by Warner Home Video in association with Bounce Entertainment.

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