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I love to know the behind-the-scenes of the days Gene Kelly made his magic at MGM, so Gene drew me to buying this book. Well, Mr Arthur Freed, if there could be more "bosses" like you today, the workplace would be a much happier place to be. Arthur and his "UNIT" or as I like to call them, "THE CREW" will have you laughing, maybe even crying and definitely astounded, amazed and so very happy that this man was the back bone and the money maker of this fabulous studio of the real movie days. His mind is one that could never be found again in any producer of today. They definitely cracked the mould when they made this man. So, I recommend that you buy this book, and even purchase the movie under the same title. Mr Hugh Fordin has done the most fantastic job on this book. You will feel like you are standing there in every scene that is described..
I think it says something that the title of this book is "M.G.M.'s Greatest Musicals", since the truly amazing thing is that one man was more or less responsible for all of them. Great behind-the-scenes stories.
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While fans of Richard Rodgers may be more inclined to enjoy the cynical wit of Larry Hart's lyrics, after reading this book, you can't help but be made into a Hammerstein convert. Here's a man with a sunny disposition, who believed in happy endings, and the best in people. One of the most telling stories Fordin recounts is how Hammerstein wrote "The Last Time I Saw Paris" (a pre-Rodgers song) because he was devastated by the fall of France in 1940. He would later point to that as the worst day of his life... not finding out his first wife had been cheating on him. That's the sort of guy Oscar Hammerstein comes across as in this book.
You'll also explore his early high-water mark of "Show Boat" and its important role in American Theater, followed by his pre-Rodgers drought.
If you read this book, you'll be glad you've Gotten to Know Him.
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