Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
USA, 1936. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by William Anthony McGuire. Cinematography by George J. Folsey, Karl Freund, Merritt B. Gerstad, Ray June, Oliver T. Marsh. Produced by Hunt Stromberg. Music by Arthur Lange. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Adrian. Film Editing by William S. Gray.
Lord only know what moviegoers of the thirties saw in this tepid musical biography of showman Florenz Ziegfeld (played here by William Powell). It’s not that it hasn’t aged well; I think it was just as boring upon first release, but all the same it seemed to find critical and financial success. Song after overlong song numbers fire at you like atom bombs to your head, and some stupid hack decided that Fanny Brice shouldn’t be allowed to finish singing “My Man”! It’s the only reasonably sane moment of the film, not to mention an immortal legend of the Ziegfeld world and she’s cut off…for what? What have they to get on with? The Plot? Puh! Luise Rainer is good as Ziegfeld’s brokenhearted first wife, but by our standards of acting today she does overdo it just a little; Myrna Loy fares much better as Ziegfeld’s second wife Billie Burke (Glinda The Good Witch to those of you who don’t know).
Academy Awards: Best Picture; Best Actress (Luise Rainer); Best Dance Direction (“A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody”)
Nominations: Best Director (Robert Z. Leonard); Best Original Story; Best Art Direction; Best Film Editing
Venice Film Festival: In Competition