the-great-ziegfeld

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Lavish biography of Flo Ziegfeld, the producer who became Broadway’s biggest starmaker.

The Great Ziegfeld (1936) is on TCM tonight at 7:00 p.m. PST, and if you’ve got some time to kill, I’d highly recommend it. It’s almost three hours long, but I love watching every minute of it. Everyone is excellent in it, particularly Luise Rainer, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Anna Held. William Powell plays a wonderfully enchanting Florenz Ziegfeld, and his portrayal and the lavish musical numbers in the film really brought Ziegfeld, the Follies, and everything that man gave the world, to life.  

The Great Ziegfeld (1936). This biography follows the ups and downs of Florenz Ziegfeld, famed producer of extravagant stage revues.

Ah, back in the day there was an Oscar for best dance direction. The golden age of musicals and stage show films, The Great Ziegfeld is certainly one of the better ones, taking shape as a compelling bio pic of Florenz Ziegfeld. William Powell, for me, carries this thing on his back, lending such weight to a role that could seem pompous and ass-hatty in the hands of a lesser actor. The set pieces are pretty amazing, as are the costumes. In that sense, it’s a film all about volume - loud outfits and big, flamboyant decor. The effect is pretty impressive. That aside, it’s way too long (as bio pics are prone to being), and, in some instances, feels pretty repetitive. Ziegfeld loves a star, star burns too bright and finally fizzles, Ziegfeld moves onto the next star, etc. etc. A sentiment echoed in his work - big success - big failure - big success - big failure. It’s not bad - not at all, it’s just a film I think you’ve got to be in the mood for. 7/10.