The Great Ziegfeld

"Weak"

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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

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.