Till the Clouds Roll By (1947)




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MGM's Till the Clouds Roll By is the musicalized, and highly fictionalized, life story of beloved composer Jerome Kern, who gave his blessing to the production shortly before his death in 1946. As played by a gray-templed Robert Walker, Kern is a likeable but none too exciting sort who expresses his emotions through his music. Constructed in the form of an extended flashback, the story proper begins at the turn of the century, as Kern tries to peddle his ditties to disinterested Broadway producers. His efforts to interest impresario Charles Frohman (Harry Hayden) go nowhere because Frohman is convinced that the only good music comes from Europe. Obligingly, Kern moves to London, where he meets and falls in love with his future wife Eva (Dorothy Patrick). On the verge of securing work with Frohman, Kern's hopes are dashed when the producer goes down with the Lusitania in 1915. Fortunately, Kern has developed such powerful U.S. contacts as Victor Herbert (Paul Maxey) and Oscar Hammerstein (Paul Langton), enabling him to find success as the composer of several "intimate" musicals for New York's Princess Theater. The film ends where it begins, with Kern's triumph as composer of the Broadway blockbuster +Show Boat. Van Heflin weaves in and out of the proceedings as the obligatory best friend/severest critic, a musical arranger named Jim Hessler (purportedly based on longtime Kern associate Paul Sadler). No one in 1946 really cared about the dramatic passages of Till the Clouds Roll By; the film's biggest drawing card was its lineup of all-star MGM talent, performing Kern's most famous numbers. Judy Garland (as Marilyn Miller) sings "Look for the Silver Lining"; Dinah Shore performs "The Last Time I Saw Paris" before a back-projected "Gay Paree"; Kathryn Grayson does a Rita Hayworth imitation with "Long Ago and Far Away"; Virginia O'Brien deadpans "A Fine Romance"; Tony Martin warbles "All the Things You Are"; June Allyson and Ray McDonald team up for the title number; and Frank Sinatra, incongruously dressed in white tuxedo, runs through "Ol' Man River." In addition, other musical contributions are made by Van Johnson, Angela Lansbury, Cyd Charisse, Gower Champion, and Lucille Bremer (cast as Van Heflin's daughter). The film's high point comes at the very beginning with a Reader's Digest edition of +Show Boat, featuring Lena Horne, as Julie (the role she was born to play, but never did again on screen), delivering a powerhouse rendition of "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man." Since lapsing into public domain in 1974, Till the Clouds Roll By has, along with Royal Wedding, become the most readily accessible of all MGM musicals.
Classics , Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts
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MGM Home Entertainment

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Angela Lansbury
as Guest Performer
Judy Garland
as Marilyn Miller
Van Johnson
as Band Leader
Robert Walker
as Jerome Kern
Frank Sinatra
as Finale
Tony Martin
as Ravenal
Van Heflin
as James I. Hessler
Kathryn Grayson
as Magnolia Hawks/Herself
James Finlayson
as Candy Vendor
Cyd Charisse
as Dance Specialty
June Allyson
as Jane Witherspoon/Lou Ellen Carter
Darrell James Roodt
as Opening Night Critic
Lee Bennett Sobel
as Stage Door Johnny
Lena Horne
as Julie
Paul Langton
as Oscar Hammerstein II
Dinah Shore
as Julie Sanderson
Gower Champion
as Dance Specialty
Sally Forrest
as Chorus Girl
Russell Hicks
as Motion Picture Producer
Ray Teal
as Orchestra Conductor
Mary Nash
as Mrs. Muller
Ray McDonald
as Guest Performer
Dorothy Patrick
as Mrs. Jerome Kern
Reed Howes
as Opening Night Critic
Byron Foulger
as Frohman's Secretary
Harry Hayden
as Charles Frohman
Paul Maxey
as Victor Herbert
Ann Codee
as Miss Laroche
Rex Evans
as Cecil Keller
Lee Phelps
as Moving Man
Herbert Heywood
as Stagehand
William Forrest
as Motion Picture Director
Larry Williams
as Opening Night Critic
Larry Steers
as Opening Night Critic
William Halligan
as Capt. Andy
Lee Smith
as Opening Night Critic
Mary Hatcher
as Chorus Girl
Jean Andren
as Secretary
George Peters
as Stage Door Johnny
Ralph Dunn
as Moving Man
Howard Mitchell
as Detective
Irene Vernon
as Showgirl
Joan Wells
as Sally as a girl
Tom Stevenson
as Genius
John Albright
as Call Boy
Tony Merlo
as Opening Night Critic
Harry Denny
as Stage Door Johnny
Don Wayson
as Detective
Thomas Louden
as Rural Postman
Wesley Brent
as Showgirl
Fred Hueston
as Opening Night Critic
Lucille Casey
as Showgirl
Maurice Kelly
as Dance Specialty
Lilyan Irene
as Barmaid
Mary Jane French
as Showgirl
Bob McLean
as Stage Door Johnny
Charles Griffin
as Opening Night Critic
Beryl McCutcheon
as Showgirl
Herschel Graham
as Opening Night Critic
Alice Wallace
as Showgirl
Louis Manley
as Swivel Chair Lady
Dick Earle
as Opening Night Critic
John Alban
as Stage Door Johnny
Alma Carroll
as Showgirl
Wilde Twins
as Specialty
Fr. George Murray
as Stage Door Johnny
Mickey Malloy
as Showgirl
Frank McClure
as Stage Door Johnny
Douglas Wright
as Bull Clown
Gloria Joy
as Showgirl
Penny Parker
as Punch and Judy Operator
Hazard Newsberry
as Opening Night Critic
Ed Elby
as Opening Night Critic
James Plato
as Opening Night Critic
Leonard Mellen
as Opening Night Critic
Charles Madrin
as Opening Night Critic
Jim Grey
as Bull Clown
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Critic Reviews for Till the Clouds Roll By

All Critics (6)

OK Jerome Kern musical, with some well done Vincente Minnelli musical numbers added to the mix.

Full Review… | July 18, 2009
Classic Film and Television

Star-packed MGM musical is more about Jerome Kern's music than Kern himself.

May 25, 2007

MGM's bland musical biopics about Kern distorts basic facts, and lacks energy and imagination; the only good sequences feature Judy Garland and are staged by then husband Vincente Minnelli.

Full Review… | May 12, 2007

Flat biopic of Jerome Kern salvaged by some production numbers.

January 28, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Quote not available.

June 23, 2004
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

Quote not available.

December 5, 2003
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Audience Reviews for Till the Clouds Roll By

Use you chapter search function to skip the plot, which is strictly dulls-ville, and head to the musical numbers, which are top-notch.

Allen Gumm
Allen Gumm

From the opening cymbal crash and on into the twenty-minute all-star mini-tribute to the musical SHOW BOAT, MGM makes you aware that you are watching something special; a lavish Technicolor tribute to songwriter Jerome Kern with a silly plot which is peppered every five minutes or so by a Metro star singing a Kern melody: Judy Garland (directed by Vincente Minnelli) does "Look for the Silver Lining" and "Who?", Angela Lansbury sings "How'd You Like to Spoon with Me," Lena Horne sings "Can't Help Lovin' That Man" and "Why Was I Born?"; "Cleopatterer" by June Allyson, and a humongous finale ending with Frank Sinatra crooning "Ol' Man River."

Michael Troudt
Michael Troudt

Probably NOT historically accurrate, but this bio-pic of Jerome Kern has some fantastic numbers in it. And it showcases all of MGM's musical talent to perfection. These are songs that will just blow you away. And look for Angela Lansbury in the swing number; she's a knockout.

Ruth L
Ruth L

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