The Great Ziegfeld

"Grim"

The Great Ziegfeld Review


Here's a textbook case of how a film can lose its appeal over the years.

Florenz Ziegfeld (played by William Powell) was a real man responsible for creating Broadway as we know it. The three-hour opus traces nearly his entire life. He began by producing carnival-class shows, low-rent vaudeville acts designed to appeal to the common man -- wrestling, animal acts, and the like. Bored with philistine work, Ziegfeld raised lots of money to build a big show, starting with Broadway's Follies and culminating in the production of the classic Show Boat. Along the way, Ziegfeld loses everything more than once, owing to his addiction to gambling, but he always fights his way back to the top.

Up and down, up and down, Ziegfeld has more rises and falls than a New York elevator. And boy does this get old. The film follows a reliable formula: Broke Ziegfeld scrounges up money, Ziegfeld and his leading ladies (played at various times by Myrna Loy and Luise Rainer) struggle to get the show on, finally the show goes off without a hitch, culminating in the lavish musical numbers for which the film has become justly famous. Then we start all over, until eventually an ancient Ziegfeld simply dies and the movie ends.

Ziegfeld's musical sets are truly spectacular, but there's so much of them that even the most patient viewer will be bored still come the halfway point of the film. The film may not have a cast of thousands, but it certainly feels like it does. These numbers paved the way for every big-budget musical that would follow, from Singin' in the Rain to Moulin Rouge. But what Ziegfeld is utterly missing that its contemporaries have is any kind of compelling story to string these scenes together. Ziegfeld as a character wants to be like Citizen Kane but comes off with none of Kane's power or natural interest. He's a crotchety and naive man that merits little of our attention aside from the fact that he had a knack for making musicals.

Modern audiences may as well zip through the "plot" scenes and head straight for the musical numbers. This still won't cut the film down to a length appropriate for its subject matter, but it's a start.

I'll take a slice of that cake.



The Great Ziegfeld

Facts and Figures

Run time: 176 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 8th April 1936

Distributed by: MGM Home Entertainment

Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
Fresh: 15 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Robert Z. Leonard

Producer:

Starring: as Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., as Billie Burke, as Anna Held, as Billings, Fanny Brice as Fannie Brice (as Fannie Brice), Virginia Bruce as Audrey Dane, as Sampston, as Ray Bolger, Ernest Cossart as Sidney, Joseph Cawthorn as Dr. Ziegfeld, as Sandow

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

With virtually the same blend of wit and idiocy as the 2001 original, this fashion-scene...

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) reteams with Tilda Swinton for this fresh, tricky...

Deadpool Movie Review

Deadpool Movie Review

Both the filmmakers and the characters on-screen are so pleased with themselves that this might...

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

Advertisement
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.