ProductionTill the Clouds Roll By is best remembered for its large cast of well-known musical stars of the day who appear in cameo roles performing Kern's songs. The first 15 minutes of the film consist of a condensed adaptation of Act I of Show Boat, with the order of some of the songs shifted - "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" is sung after "Life upon the Wicked Stage", and "Ol' Man River" was used as an Act I Finale, which it is not in the show. "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" as sung by Lena Horne was filmed, like many of her other musical numbers in MGM films, so that it could be easily eliminated by sensitive Southern distributors.
Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, Virginia O'Brien, Dinah Shore, Van Johnson, June Allyson, Lena Horne, Lucille Bremer, Van Heflin, Tony Martin, Cyd Charisse, and Angela Lansbury. Horne's appearance is of particular interest as she is shown performing as Julie in the Show Boat segment — a role she was considered for but ultimately denied when MGM came to adapt the complete show in 1951. Garland, meanwhile, was pregnant with her daughter, Liza Minnelli, when she filmed her segments, which required creative filming to hide her condition.
Even by the standards of the Hollywood "biopic," this film has been controversial for its looseness with the facts. Kern's major musical colleagues are essentially not depicted at all, while two fictional characters — arranger James Hesler and his troubled daughter, Sally — have a bigger part in the storyline than anyone besides Kern himself.
Till the Clouds Roll By is one of several MGM musicals (another being Royal Wedding) that lapsed into public domain on their 29th anniversary due to failure to renew the copyright registration. As such, it is one of the most widely circulated MGM musicals on home video, although the quality of these copies varies widely. Warner Home Video gave the film its first fully restored DVD release on April 25, 2006.
Till the Clouds Roll By is also credited as one of the first motion pictures to have a soundtrack album released concurrent with the film arriving in theaters. The soundtrack was produced by MGM Records. The album originally contained four 78-rpm records featuring various artists and songs from the movie and front-cover artwork by Lennie Hayton. Later this album was released on LP. No official authorized version has yet been released on CD, but several unauthorized versions have (Rhino Entertainment currently owns the rights to issue an authorized CD of the soundtrack, under license from Turner Entertainment; in the past, MCA Records and Sony Music Entertainment held such rights). This is because MGM allowed the film to fall into the public domain.
- June Allyson as Jane Witherspoon (in Leave It to Jane) and Lou Ellen Carter (in Oh, Boy!)
- Lucille Bremer as Sally Hessler
- Judy Garland as Marilyn Miller
- Kathryn Grayson as Magnolia Hawks in Show Boat / Specialty
- Van Heflin as James I. Hessler
- Lena Horne as Julie LaVerne in Show Boat / Specialty
- Van Johnson as Bandleader in Elite Club
- Tony Martin as Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat / Specialty
- Dinah Shore as Una Trance (in The Girl from Utah) / Specialty
- Frank Sinatra as Finale Specialty
- Robert Walker as Jerome Kern
- Gower Champion as Specialty Dancer in Roberta
- Cyd Charisse as Specialty Dancer in Roberta
- Angela Lansbury as London Specialty, singing "Spoon With Me"
- Ray McDonald as Specialty in Oh, Boy! and Leave It to Jane
- Virginia O'Brien as Ellie Mae in Show Boat / Specialty
- Joan Wells as Sally Hessler as a little girl
- Esther Williams as Cameo appearance
- Harry Hayden as Charles Frohman
- Paul Langton as Oscar Hammerstein II
- Paul Maxey as Victor Herbert