What else could be the title for a book about the productions of Arthur Freed -- the man responsible for the MGM musicals...

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What else could be the title for a book about the productions of Arthur Freed -- the man responsible for the MGM musicals that once made that now defunct film company the most powerful in the business? The titles alone -- among many others, The Wizard of Oz, Girl Crazy, Meet Me In St. Louis, Till the Clouds Roll By, Good News, Easter Parade, On the Town, An American in Paris, Gigi, Singin' in the Rain (for which Freed wrote the lyrics to the title song -- he's an accomplished songwriter as well) -- are themselves a recital of America's dreams -- a history at least as real as the wars and depressions that were the dark underside of our fantasies. Freed's genius (everyone who worked for him testified to it) lay in his ability to recognize talent and liberate it -- he discovered and/or brought to Hollywood Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Comden and Green, Saroyan, directors Minnelli, Richard Brooks, and Charles Walters; he worked with virtually every composer from Gershwin to Kern to Berlin to Kahn to Loewe. This long, amply researched book documents not his life but the making of his movies (which, in effect, were his life) -- the endless complications of buying properties, coordinating screenwriters, directors and casts, creating sets and costumes, firings and hirings and feuds, always the possible veto of studio heads and censors. There is sadness here (the decline of Garland and Judy Holliday), but mainly awe at Freed's prodigious energy and imagination, and the pleasure of at least partially reliving those important moments of our lives spent inside darkened picture palaces. The author includes a most useful filmography, song catalogue, and list of acquired properties that for one reason or other were uncompleted.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1974