Sunday, June 17, 2012

1937: The Great Ziegfeld

The Great Ziegfeld tells the story of the career of Broadway producer Florence Ziegfeld. His career is a series of ups and downs. Every time he gets a hit or tastes success, he loses it only to have to build up again. For example, when he gets rich in 1929, he decides that it's time to play it safe and put all of his money into the stock market. Click the link on the year if you don't know why that's a bad idea. He usually gets his money back from The Wizard of Oz.

Ziegfeld is less of a producer and more of a used car salesman. He tricks and manipulates those around him. I can see how in 1936 when this came out that he might have been a different lead character than people had seen in a movie. But these days, we've seen that act done before and done much better. Still, kudos for doing it early on.

After the first 45 minutes, the majority of the rest of the 185 minute movie is musical numbers from Ziegfeld's various Broadway shows, especially his Follies. I was reminded of the second Oscar winner, The Broadway Melody. And I was as uninterested in this as I was in that.

The highlight of the movie is easily a scene with Ray Bolger. I've embedded it below. It's pretty much his audition for the part of The Scarecrow. Though in his first scene, it's almost confusing when he talks about not having a heart. The real fun starts about a minute in, and the really impressive part starts around 2:20.

Update: It's no longer available on YouTube. So... search for other Ray Bolger stuff. It's good.

NEXT WEEK: 1938 - The Life of Emile Zola

Oscar Project Rankings:
  1. It Happened One Night (1935)
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front (1931)
  3. Mutiny on the Bounty (1936)
  4. Grand Hotel (1933)
  5. Cimarron (1932)
  6. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
  7. Broadway Melody (1930)
  8. Wings (1929)
  9. Cavalcade (1933)

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