The Great Ziegfeld

The Great Ziegfeld

DVD - 2004
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Ziegfeld is a theatrical impresario, whose show business empire begins when he stage-manages a tour for a strongman. With almost no money in the bank, he charms European stage star Anna Held to headline his "Follies". From 1907, Ziegfeld stages annual editions of Broadway's most fabulous revue. Eventually, Ziegfeld abandons Anna in favor of other beauties. Ziegfeld comes to realize that his new romance with Follies-girl Audrey Dane, is all wrong, settling instead for good-natured actress Billie Burke. Bankrupted by the Depression, Ziegfeld dies as he plans a spectacular comeback.

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Nursebob
Jul 21, 2018

One can forgive the cinematic excesses of Robert Z. Leonard’s three-hour biopic spectacular, after all it follows the ups and downs of legendary Broadway producer Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., the creative mind behind the Ziegfeld Follies which wowed live theatre audiences back when motion pictures were still silent. William Powell captures the essence of the man—the egotist, the visionary, and the womanizer (his indiscretions highly sanitized for the big screen)—as he goes from carnival barker hawking “The World’s Strongest Man” to New York mainstay introducing the world to some of its most beautiful women. Frank Morgan co-stars as fellow producer and friendly lifelong nemesis Jack Billings while Myrna Loy, Virginia Bruce, and Luise Rainer play some of the loves in Ziegfeld’s life—Rainer eventually taking home the “Best Actress” Oscar for her stagey portrayal of melancholy French chanteuse—and Mrs. Ziegfeld #1—Anna Held. But the facile plot (rags to riches to rags) is swept aside by a glut of outré musical numbers highlighted by an outrageously camp fashion show and Dennis Morgan crooning “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody” in front of a monstrous rotating wedding cake covered with cherubs, chandeliers, two miles of silk, and dozens of cavorting chorus girls. Fanny Brice (the original “Funny Girl”) provides a bit of schtick, Ray Bolger does a tap dance cameo which he would reprise three years later as the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz", and Eddie Cantor lookalike Buddy Doyle causes contemporary audiences to gasp as he struts about in blackface. It’s a glittery potpourri of fantasy girls and gaudy set designs barely held together by the thinnest of plots and all designed to amaze without actually teaching anything about the man behind the myth. Winning the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1936 it’s a grand old entertainment to be sure, but perhaps it’s a good thing they don’t make them quite like this anymore.

t
ThomasJWhiting
Mar 14, 2016

GREAT 1936 movie tribute to man who was center stage in the development of vaudeville/Broadway show biz. The movie gloriously celebrates stage shows and creatively uses camera/film techniques (instantly changing point of view, going from distance to closeup, and a lot, lot more).
Somewhat ironic, that the movie industry became the biggest threat to live stage shows. People began using their entertainment dollars just on movies and many stage shows died from overwhelming business problems.
I really enjoyed the movie's dramatic staging, costuming, dancing, etc. - and film work, too!

rufus_red4 Jan 24, 2015

This film did not date very well. It's way to long, overwritten and often dull. I turned it off after 2 hours, I didn't care enough to finish it. I can understand film history buffs being interested for it's historical context but everyone else will be bored to tears.

a
akirakato
Jan 21, 2014

Released in 1936, this film is one of the biggest successes in the 1930s.
It is supposed to be a standard in musical film making.
As a matter of fact, it won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture for producer Hunt Stromberg, Best Actress for Louise Rainer, and Best Dance Direction for Seymour Felix.
Since then, however, it seems to have become a glory in the film industry.
To the eyes of the present-day movie-goers, it looks excessively showy and unreasonably long---185 minutes.
The DVD includes the 13-minute documentary "Ziegfred on Film" made in 2002.
It shows Luise Rainer who remained the only actress
in history to have won the Best Acrtress Oscar two years in a row until Katherine Hepburn, who won it in 1967 and 1968.
Born in Janusary 1910, Luise Rainer still lives now.
As of January 2014, she is 104 years old. Amazing!

r
richibi
Dec 28, 2013

extraordinary production numbers liven up this long black and white biography of Florenz Ziegfeld, with guest appearances by Fanny Brice and Ray Bolger, Luise Rainer won an Oscar for playing Ziegfeld's first wife, Anna Held, magnificently, watch for her roots in silent movies

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