Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy 120th Birthday, Arthur Freed

If you are a classic film fan, chances are very good that you have heard of Arthur Freed. Indeed, Mr. Freed was in charge of his own unit at MGM in the Forties and Fifties, and it was this unit that made some of the greatest musicals of all time. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944),  Easter Parade (1948), On the Town (1949,  Singin' in the Rain (1952) and The Band Wagon (1953) were all products of the famous Freed Unit. Even prior to being the head of his own unit at MGM, Arthur Freed had produced some legendary musicals. He had been an associate producer on The Wizard of Oz (1939), and a producer on such films as Babes in Arms (1939) and For Me and My Gal (1942). Arthur Freed was born 120 years ago today in Charleston, South Carolina.

While Arthur Freed was famous as a movie producer, it must also be noted that he was a successful lyricist as well. Early in his career he sang with the Marx Brothers and even wrote material for them. He wrote lyrics for the songs in the 1920 Broadway production Silks and Satin. His best known work as a lyricist would come in the late Twenties and early Thirties, when he and composer Nacio Herb Brown wrote songs for MGM movies. Together Messrs. Freed and Brown wrote songs for such films as The Broadway Melody (1929) and The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929), among many others. Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown's substantial catalogue of songs would eventually provide the soundtrack for the classic musical Singin' in the Rain (1952).

In honour of Arthur Freed's 120th birthday, then, there is a selection of the songs he wrote with Nacio Herb Brown

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