About M.G.M Musicals – a brief history of mgm musicals

Established in 1924, MGM is tied for the fifth-oldest movie studio in history with Columbia Pictures. From the end of the silent film era through World War II, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was the most prominent motion picture studio in Hollywood, with the greatest output of all of the studios and at its height was releasing an average of one feature film a week. From the outset, MGM tapped into the audience’s need for glamour and sophistication. Having inherited few big names from their predecessor companies, Louis B Mayer and Irving Thalberg began at once to create and publicise a host of new stars, among them Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, William Haines, Norma Shearer, and Joan Crawford.. The arrival of talking pictures in 1928–29 gave opportunities to other new stars, many of whom would carry MGM through the 1930s: Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Robert Montgomery, Myrna Loy, Jeanette MacDonald, and Nelson Eddy among the most popular.

MGM was one of the first studios to experiment with filming in Technicolor. MGM’s first all-colour, “all-talking” sound feature with dialogue was the 1930 musical The Rogue Song. In 1934 MGM introduced the first live-action film made in Technicolor’s superior new three-colour process, a musical number in the otherwise black and white The Cat and the Fiddle. The studio then produced a number of three-colour short subjects including 1935’s musical La Fiesta de Santa Barbara, however MGM waited until 1938 to film a complete feature in the process, Sweethearts with Jeanette MacDonald. From then on, MGM regularly produced several films a year in Technicolor, The Wizard of Oz being just one of the most notable. After 1940, production was cut from fifty pictures a year to a more manageable twenty-five features per year. It was during this time that MGM released very successful musicals with newly-acquired contract players such as Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Frank Sinatra, to name just a few.

MGM found it difficult to attract audiences after the war. While other studios backed away from the popular musicals of the war years, MGM increased its output to as many as five or six each year, roughly one-quarter of its annual output. Such pictures were expensive to produce, requiring a full staff of songwriters, arrangers, musicians, dancers, and technical support, and releasing so many each year affected the company’s finances. MGM still produced some well-regarded musicals, among them An American in Paris, Singin’ in the Rain and The Band Wagon. However, it was a losing fight, as the mass audience preferred to stay home and watch television. (An American in Paris and Singin’ in the Rain, as well as the 1951 Technicolor remake of Show Boat, were box office hits; The Band Wagon was not.)

In 1958, MGM released what is generally considered their last great musical, Arthur Freed’s widescreen, colour production of Gigi, starring Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, and Louis Jourdan. Adapted from the novel by Colette, and written by the team of Lerner and Loewe, who also wrote My Fair Lady and Camelot, Gigi was a box office and critical smash, won nine Academy Awards including Best Picture, and from it came several hit songs, including Thank Heaven For Little Girls, I Remember It Well, the Waltz at Maxim’s, and the Oscar-winning title song. The film was the last MGM musical to win a Best Picture Oscar, an honour that had previously gone to The Broadway Melody (1929), The Great Ziegfeld (1936), and An American in Paris (1951).

Most Popular MGM Stage Musicals

The Wizard of Oz

Annie Get Your Gun

Show Boat

Kiss Me Kate

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers




The Boy Friend


Most Popular MGM Film Musicals

The Wizard of Oz

Meet Me in St. Louis

Ziegfeld Follies

Easter Parade

On The Town

Annie Get Your Gun

Three Little Words

Show Boat

An American In Paris

Singin’ In The Rain

Kiss Me Kate

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

High Society


The Boy Friend



 MGM Musicals By Year


The Broadway Melody (1929)

Hallelujah (1929)

Marianne (1929)

So This Is College (1929)

Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)

It’s a Great Life (1929)

Devil May Care (1929)


Chasing Rainbows (1930)

Lord Byron of Broadway (1930)

Montana Moon (1930)

Free and Easy (1930)

Children of Pleasure (1930)

The Rogue Song (1930)

In Gay Madrid (1930)

They Learned About Women (1930)

The Florodora Girl (1930)

Call of the Flesh (1930)

Good News (1930)

Love in the Rough (1930)

Madam Satan (1930)

A Lady’s Morals (1930)

New Moon (1930)


The Prodigal (1931)

Flying High (1931)

Cuban Love Song (1931)


Blondie of the Follies (1932)


Broadway to Hollywood (1933)

Dancing Lady (1933)

Going Hollywood (1933)


The Cat and the Fiddle (1934)

Hollywood Party (1934)

Student Tour (1934)

The Merry Widow (1934)

Babes in Toyland (1934)


The Night Is Young (1935)

Naughty Marietta (1935)

Reckless (1935)

Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)

Here Comes the Band (1935)


Rose Marie (1936)

The Bohemian Girl (1936)

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

San Francisco (1936)

Born to Dance (1936)


Maytime (1937)

Nobody’s Baby (1937)

Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)

The Firefly (1937)

Rosalie (1937)


Everybody Sing (1938)

Girl of the Golden West (1938)

Listen Darling (1938)

The Great Waltz (1938)

Sweethearts (1938)

Let Freedom Ring (1938)


Honolulu (1939)

Ice Follies of 1939 (1939)

Broadway Serenade (1939)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Babes in Arms (1939)

Balalaika (1939)


Two Girls on Broadway (1940)

Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)

New Moon (1940)

Strike up the Band (1940)

Little Nellie Kelly (1940)

Bitter Sweet (1940)

Hullabaloo (1940)


Ziegfeld Girl (1941)

Lady Be Good (1941)

The Chocolate Soldier (1941)


Babes on Broadway (1942)

Ship Ahoy (1942)

Cairo (1942)

I Married An Angel (1942)

Born to Sing (1942)

Rio Rita (1942)

Panama Hattie (1942)

Seven Sweethearts (1942)

For Me and My Gal (1942)


Presenting Lily Mars (1943)

DuBarry Was A Lady (1943)

Cabin in the Sky (1943)

Thousands Cheer (1943)

I Dood It (1943)

Best Foot Forward (1943)

Girl Crazy (1943)


Swing Fever (1944)

Meet the People (1944)

Two Girls and a Sailor (1944)

Broadway Rhythm (1944)

Bathing Beauty (1944)

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Music for Millions (1944)


Thrill Of A Romance (1945)

Anchors Aweigh (1945)

Yolanda And The Thief (1945)


The Harvey Girls (1946)

Ziegfeld Follies (1946)

Two Sisters from Boston (1946)

Easy to Wed (1946)

Holiday in Mexico (1946)

No Leave No Love (1946)

Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)


It Happened in Brooklyn (1947)

Fiesta (1947)

The Unfinished Dance (1947)

This Time For Keeps (1947)

Living In A Big Way (1947)

Good News (1947)


Three Daring Daughters (1948)

Big City (1948)

Summer Holiday (1948)

On An Island With You (1948)

The Pirate (1948)

A Date With Judy (1948)

Easter Parade (1948)

Luxury Liner (1948)

The Kissing Bandit (1948)

Words And Music (1948)


Take Me Out To The Ball Game (1949)

The Barkleys Of Broadway (1949)

Neptune’s Daughter (1949)

In The Good Old Summertime (1949)

That Midnight Kiss (1949)

On The Town (1949)


Annie Get Your Gun (1950)

Three Little Words (1950)

The Duchess of Idaho (1950)

Nancy Goes To Rio (1950)

The Toast of New Orleans (1950)

Summer Stock (1950)

Two Weeks With Love (1950)

Pagan Love Song (1950)


Royal Wedding (1951)

The Great Caruso (1951)

Show Boat (1951)

Rich, Young And Pretty (1951)

Excuse My Dust (1951)

The Strip (1951)

An American In Paris (1951)

Texas Carnival (1951)

Mr. Imperium (1951)


The Belle Of New York (1952)

Singin’ In The Rain (1952)

Skirts Ahoy (1952)

Lovely To Look At (1952)

Because You’re Mine (1952)

Everything I Have Is Yours (1952)

Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)


I Love Melvin (1953)

Dangerous When Wet (1953)

Small Town Girl (1953)

The Band Wagon (1953)

Lili (1953)

Torch Song (1953)

Kiss Me Kate (1953)

The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953)

Give A Girl A Break (1953)

Easy To Love (1953)


Rose Marie (1954)

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954)

The Student Prince (1954)

Brigadoon (1954)

Athena (1954)

Deep In My Heart (1954)


Jupiter’s Darling (1955)

Hit The Deck (1955)

Interrupted Melody (1955)

Love Me Or Leave Me (1955)

It’s Always Fair Weather (1955)

The Glass Slipper (1955)

Kismet (1955)

I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955)


Meet Me In Las Vegas (1956)

Invitation To The Dance (1956)

High Society (1956)

The Opposite Sex (1956)


Ten Thousand Bedrooms (1957)

This Could Be The Night (1957)

Silk Stockings (1957)

Les Girls (1957)


The Seven Hills Of Rome (1958)

Merry Andrew (1958)

Gigi (1958)

Tom Thumb (1958)


For The First Time (1959)


Bells Are Ringing (1960)


The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962)

Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962)


The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)


The Singing Nun (1966)


Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969)


The Boy Friend (1971)


That’s Entertainment! (1974)


That’s Entertainment 2 (1976)


Pennies From Heaven (1981)


Yes Giorgio (1982)

Victor/Victoria (1982)


That’s Dancing (1985)


That’s Entertainment 3 (1994)