It shouldn’t come as a surprise to everyone that MGM finally filed Chapter 11 yesterday after all the money troubles the studio has been in. Back in July, I lamented about the next 007 film being canceled as a result of MGM’s financial woes. According to The Wrap, last week MGM’s creditors approved a plan to waive its $4 billion debt in exchange for large ownership stakes in the once-mighty studio. After the plan is approved by the court, MGM will be run by Spyglass Entertainment.
Coincidentally, just a couple of days ago I saw a roadblock skin advertising on IMDb about TCM’s Moguls and Movie Stars series that is currently running. As you probably know, Turner Classics Movies cable channel is owned by Turner Broadcasting System, which also owns the MGM library. The History of Hollywood program is an original, seven-part documentary that marks the channel’s most ambitious project to date and the most comprehensive chronicle of the birth and dramatic growth of American movies ever produced for television. I wish I had cable as it’d be so fascinating to watch the stories behind Hollywood’s power elite and all the drama behind the scenes that surely rival whatever they’re putting up on screen.
MGM was no doubt one of the most powerful Hollywood studios in its day, and it’s also got one of the most iconic logos of Leo the Lion. When I was a kid I used to love seeing Leo roars before a movie started, surrounded by a ring of film reels with the studio’s motto Ars Gratia Artis, a Latin terms which means arts for art’s sake (per Wiki). It evokes the grandeur and glamour of Hollywood’s golden age, though perhaps not as fresh and edgy as some newer studio logos such as Focus Features, Pixar or Lionsgate.
The studio has released hundreds of movies since its inception in 1924, though it never quite reclaim its glory and box office prowess it had in the 30s. Many of their movies remain beloved classics to this day, such as 12 Angry Men, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ben-Hur, Doctor Zhivago, Gone with the Wind, North By Northwest, Singing in the Rain, West Side Story, and of course, those James Bond movies.
If I have to list my top five favorite MGM movies, I’d probably go with this:
- Casino Royale
- Gone with the Wind
- Return to Me
- The Living Daylights