The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

ROBERT Z. LEONARD

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB

USA, 1936.  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by , , , , .  Produced by .  Music by . Production Design by Cedric Gibbons.  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by

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  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; 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

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