Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

The Great Ziegfeld
Director: Robert Z. Leonard
USA 1936
185 min

The Great Ziegfeld is a semi-biographical musical drama about the life of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr, the American Broadway manager and creator of the Ziegfeld Follies.
In this film Ziegfeld is played by William Powell, playing the smooth womaniser (who always keeps his eyes open for attractive women) to perfection.

Virginia Bruce as Audrey Dane.

The story begins with Ziegfeld's entrance in show business and ends with his death. Playing his first wife Anna Held (which in reality Ziegfeld never married, but in the film adaption I guess it looked better if they were married to the 1930's audience), is the amazing Luise Rainer, who also won a Best Actress Academy Award for her role. His second wife, actress Billie Burke, is played by the woman who plays the best wives - Myrna Loy (who, even though she is billed second, appears first after two hours and ten minutes into the film).

One of the amazing musical sequences.

The tagline of the film was "10 Big Shows in 1", which is quite right. I thought that a three hour long musical had to have a lot of suicide-tempting meaningless dance numbers, but I was totally wrong. All the dance numbers are beyond impressing - they're magnificent. The choreography is very inspiring, and I can't imagine how many hours were spent on rehearsals. All these people dancing without bumping into each other, and on top of that makes it seem so easy - magnificent is the word.

Esther Muir, William Powell and Fanny Brice (as herself).

The actors and actresses is well chosen for their parts, too. I can't mention them all, but Frank Morgan as the friend and rival Billings is worth mentioning, and so is Virginia Bruce as Audrey and Fanny Brice as herself.
One interesting thing, that makes me think that the casting of actors was very thoughtfully done, is that you can see the resemblance between the real persons and the characters in the film. Here are som examples:

Anna Held and Luise Rainer.

Billie Burke and Myrna Loy.

Florenz Ziegfeld and Billie Burke, and William Powell and Myrna Loy.

Sandow and Nat Pendleton. (Remember him from The Thin Man and Manhattan Melodrama?)

And I have to include the scene which is believed to have been the one who settled the Oscar statue for Luise Rainer. That is called real acting, I was really stunned when I watched it.

And a proud Luise Rainer at the Academy Awards, 1937:


Keith said...

Great post. I love this film. It's been way too long since I've seen it though. I hope you've enjoyed your weekend. Take care.

Lolita said...

Thank you! I was very positively surprised by the film. As I said, I was absolutely sure that I would have to fastforward through the dance sequences. Like in The Cocoanuts with the Marx Brothers. More boring dance scenes than the ones filling the mainstream 1930's films is hard to find.
I hope you had a nice weekend to!

Christopher said...

..."A pretty like a melodyyyyy..that haunts you night and daaaayyyy.."..Luise Rainer is so cool..I was trying awhile back to find some candid clips of her on You her oscar acceptances and such..Shes really strange....not like the she might be an alien..or maybe just wasted..Shes great tho...luv her..

Lolita said...

Haha, the songs in this film are lovely! I didn't find many clips of her on YouTube neither. Only dull picture tributes and scenes from The Great Ziegfeld. Shouldn't it exist film clips from all Academy Awards? Or are they not official? They should be!

Christopher said...

I don't know..You would think they would have more award film clips..
I was looking for one in particular,it was in connection with Norma Shearer and her film, Marie Antoinette,some gala or awards thing,Luise Rainer was there and just looks and acts totally different from all the rest..You can tell she didn't go in for all the glamour and glitz..

Anonymous said...

I love Luise so much !!

♫♪ It's DelightFull To Be Married, to be be be be be be be be be be married ♪♫

I Love Her ♥♥♥♥