Hollywood's 1940s craze for composer biographies did not yield many masterpieces, and Till the Clouds Roll By is one of the weaker efforts in the bunch. Robert Walker tries gamely to suggest the decency of Jerome Kern but ... more »is defeated by a sluggish story line pairing him with a crotchety mentor (Van Heflin). As a collection of freestanding production numbers devoted to Kern's songs, however, the movie has appeal. It begins with almost 20 minutes of Showboat (including Lena Horne's plaintive reading of "Can't Help Lovin' That Man") and the hits just keep on coming. Judy Garland, who appears in a few scenes as stage star Marilyn Miller, contributes "Look for the Silver Lining" and a Gatsby-esque production number on "Who?" Her songs were staged by then-hubby Vincente Minnelli. Other highlights include a young Angela Lansbury, still with baby fat, singing "How'd You Like to Spoon with Me?" Lucille Bremer, a leggy starlet who never quite caught on, plays Kern's protégé. She spins a delightful duet with Van Johnson on "I Won't Dance," two redheads capering with gusto. It all ends with another splashy theatrical montage, climaxing in Frank Sinatra's take on "Ol' Man River." That might sound like a strange idea, but Ol' Blue Eyes clearly loves the song (he would return to it often in his career) and is in beautiful voice. Despite being a lavish MGM production, Till the Clouds fell out of copyright and into the public domain, so print quality (and even running time) can be variable. --Robert Horton« less
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 11/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Though only marginally a biography of Jerome Kern, and with a corn and syrup plot, anyone who likes traditional American musical theater will appreciate this film, which is a great showcase for Kern's wonderful songs. Robert Walker as Kern, and Van Heflin as his arranger James Hessler are good, but this film is all about the music and the singers, especially Judy Garland. Lena Horne, and Frank Sinatra. Directed by Richard Whorf, with Vincente Minelli directing the Judy Garland portions, and musical numbers staged by Robert Alton. Total running time is 132 minutes. I own a cheap DVD edition (released by Vina) which is remarkably clear considering the price, though it has a slight "bootleg" quality to it.
Musical numbers include: Excerpts from "Showboat", with Lena Horna exquisite singing "Can't Help Loving that Man of Mine". Others include Kathryn Grayson, Tony Martin and Caleb Peterson. "Howja Like to Spoon Me" from the "London Gaieties" with Angela Lansbury. "They'll Never Believe Me", Dinah Shore. "Till the Clouds Roll By" from "Oh Boy" with Ray McDonald. "Leave it to Jane" with June Allyson and Ray McDonald. "Look for the Silver Lining" from "Sally" with Judy Garland. This may be the most interesting song of the film. "Who" from "Sunny" with Judy Garland. "I Won't Dance" with Lucille Bremer and Van Johnson. "Smoke gets in Your Eyes" from "Roberta" with Cyd Charisse (a short but lovely dance). "The Last Time I Saw Paris" with Dinah Shore. "The Land Where Good Songs Go" with Lucille Bremer. "Yesterdays" by the chorus (one of my favorite songs). "Long Ago and Far Away" with Kathryn Grayson. "A Fine Romance" with Virginia O'Brien. "All the Things You Are" with Tony Martin. "Why Was I Born ?" with Lena Horne. "Old Man River" with a remarkable vocal performance by a very bushy-haired Frank Sinatra. "
Inspired Musical Numbers Will Appeal to Musical Fans
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 04/09/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Jerome Kern died while MGM's bio-pic TIL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY was still in the pre-production stage--and while Kern had been more than willing for MGM to tell all, his estate was considerably more reticent. In order to avoid any legal issues, MGM scrapped their original intentions, wrote up a fluffy script that bore little similarity to Kern's life, and crammed the film with every musical star available in a non-stop series of drop-dead-stunning production numbers. The result may be extremely bad biography, but leading man Robert Walker and co-star Van Heflin keep the sentimental story moving--and the musical numbers are piled on top of each other so quickly that one doesn't really question it. The film opens with a lengthy montage from SHOWBOAT, Kern's innovative masterpeice, that features knock-out performances from Lena Horne, Katheryn Grayson, and Virgina O'Brien and then quickly seques into a series of star-solos that feature June Allyson, Gower Champion, Cyd Charisse, Angela Lansbury, Dinah Shore, and Frank Sinatra.Along the way we are also treated to an extended cameo by Judy Garland, performing "Look For The Silver Lining" precisely as Marilyn Miller played it on stage and singing "Who?" to a staircase of chorus boys--which Garland was said to find most amusing, considering that she was pregnant at the time. Also notable is Lucille Bremer in the role of Robert Walker's stage-struck ward; although her star quickly faded, Bremer is an attractive performer and shows her talent for song and dance here by teaming with Van Johnson for a spirited version of "I Won't Dance." TIL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY will not appeal to most casual viewers, for the story line and script are much too weak. But musical fans will love this one all the way from Lansbury doing a Cockney "Spoon With Me" to Sinatra belting out "Old Man River." As a Jerome Kern song-and-dance fest, the movie can't be beat, and it should have a place in every musical fan's collection."
The Official DVD!
Charlotte Kendall | Bay City, MI | 01/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First off this is Warner Brothers DVD release I am talking about for my review. Warner Brothers has finally released Till The Clouds Roll By on DVD! The movie is about the life and career of Jerome Kern. Robert Walker protrays Jerome Kern. This movie isn't exactly accruate but it has many great numbers from the MGM stars of the time. Some of the highlights include a mini verison of Show Boat, How'd You Like to Spoon with Me?, and Judy Garland singing some numbers. Most of the MGM stars are in this movie including, Judy Garland, June Allyson, Kathryn Grayson, Lena Horne, Van Johnson, Tony Martin, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Gower Champion, Cyd Charisse, Angela Lansbury, Ray McDonald, Virginia O'Brien, and Lucille Bremer. As for the numbers, here is a list and a mini description:
Mini version of Show Boat- The movie opens up here at the opening night of the show. Tony Martin sings "Where's the Mate for Me." "Make Believe" is sung by Tony Martin and Kathryn Grayson. Kathryn Grayson would later appear in the 1951 film "Show Boat" as the same character, Magnolia. Virginia O'Brien sings "Life Upon the Wicked Stage." The lovely Lena Horne sings "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man." Then the chorus sings "Old Man River."
How'd You Like to Spoon with Me?- A very young Angela Lansbury sings this number. A personal favorite!
They Didn't Believe Me- Some girl sings this song and I have no idea who she is!
Till the Clouds Roll By- This is sung and danced by Ray McDonald, June Allyson and a Chorus. A great number. I think this one is my favorite out of the movie!
Leave It to Jane / Cleopatterer- This is also sung and danced by Ray McDonald and June Allyson.
Look for the Silver Lining- Judy Garland sings this great number. Another favorite!
Who?- Judy Garland sings and dances again. Another favorite. Judy Garland was actually pregnant during the filming of this movie. So she may look a little bigger. Months later Liza Minnelli was born! That's another story though!
One More Dance- Lucille Bremer sings this number but, she's really dubbed.
I Won't Dance- Van Johnson sings and dances this with Lucille Bremer.
She Didn't Say Yes- A quick number but this twin sister act sings it.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes- A chorus sings this lovely tune while Cyd Charisse and Gower Champion dance to it.
The Last Time I Saw Paris- Dinah Shore sings this lovely song.
The Land Where the Good Songs Go- Lucille Bremer sings this song.
Yesterdays- A chorus sings this song as well.
Long Ago (And Far Away)- The lovely Kathryn Grayson sings this song.
A Fine Romance- Virginia O'Brien sings this song.
All the Things You Are- Tony Martin sings this song.
Why Was I Born?- Once again the lovely Lena Horne sings this song.
Ol' Man River- This is the finale and a young Frank Sinatra sings this. No offensive but I don't he should have sang this number.
As for extras on the DVD,
New featurette Till the Clouds Roll By: Real to Reel Vintage Fitzpartick Traveltalk short Glimpses of California Classic MGM Tex Avery cartoon Henpecked Hoboes Two musical outtake sequences: Judy Garland performing D'Ya Love Me? and Music in the Air (I've Told Ev'ry Little Star/The Song is You) performed by Kathryn Grayson and Johnny Johnston Theatrical trailer Languages: English & Fran?ais Subtitles: English, Fran?ais & Espa?ol (feature film only)
Till the Clouds Roll By is a nice film but in my opinion it seems to drag on more than it should. Some of it is too made up for Hollywood as well. The real Jerome Kern was technical advisor on this film, but he died before the film was completed. On a final note, if you enjoy the MGM musicals I say watch it but, if your looking for an accurate movie this isn't it."
MGM Stars In Their Glory
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 06/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"TILL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY has never been considered one of MGM's greatest musicals. The film is a somewhat syrupy biographical account of the life of Jerome Kern. In some ways this cannot be seen as a criticism. The film begins with the opening night of SHOWBOAT. After the performance Kern gets in a taxi and tells the driver his life story. Of course if he's telling the story it's going to be a nice account. And Robert Walker, who plays Kern, presents Kern as a likable guy and a hero we want to root for and hope will succeed.
More than likely MGM didn't release this film to tell the story of Jerome Kern. If anything, it was just an excuse to showcase it's stars and as viewers have discovered, it is a showcase of MGM's great talent. Musical numbers include Judy Garland as Marilyn Miller performing on of Garland's showpieces "Who?" The SHOWBOAT sequence at the beginning is probably one of the film's greatest moments and includes Kathryn Grayson as Magnolia, a role she'd reprise a few years later when MGM released a newer version of SHOWBOAT. It's interesting to note that the staging of SHOWBOAT in this film is less stereotypical than the later version released by MGM and has Lena Horne as Julie Laverne, a far more accurate casting (no offense to Ava Gardner). Dinah Shore and Angela Lansbury appear as well as do MGM favorites June Allyson, Virginia O'Brien, Gower Champion, Lucille Bremer and a young Cyd Charisse. It also has a finale that showcases the talents of many of the major players and includes an appearance by Frank Sinatra.
My guess is that most people who purchase this film will watch it in its entirety once or twice, but it will not sit on the shelf and get dusty. With remote in hand, people will put this film in the player and watch their favorite clips over and over again and will be entertained time and time again. Sat least that's what I've done and I'm sure will continue to do.
Good movie - Bad DVD Transfer
Timothy Kearney | 08/27/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"While this film may not have the most exciting plot, one cannot deny the great production values of the musical numbers thanks to the Arthur Freed Unit. Judy Garland's numbers are top notch, along with the rest of them. Unfortunately, this film must have slipped into public domain, and the company who picked up the rights to doing a DVD print are not sticklers for quality! Since Warner Brothers now has the MGM library, if the DVD doesn't say Warner Home Video on it, you may want to get the VHS version instead. :-) Hopefully, sometime in the future, Warner Brothers will get the rights back to do a DVD, and get it done in nice crystal clear mastering. Then I can go out and re-buy it. Arther Freed musicals are a "must have" on DVD!"