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The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama, Musical | 8 April 1936 (USA)
The ups and downs of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., famed producer of extravagant stage revues, are portrayed.

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Won 3 Oscars. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Fannie Brice (as Fannie Brice)
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Dr. Ziegfeld (as Joseph Cawthorne)
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Harriet Hoctor ...
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Mary Lou
Paul Irving ...
Erlanger
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Costumer
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Storyline

At the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, sideshow barker Flo Ziegfeld turns the tables on his more successful neighbor Billings, and steals his girlfriend to boot. This pattern is repeated throughout their lives, as Ziegfeld makes and loses many fortunes putting on ever bigger, more spectacular shows (sections of which appear in the film). French revue star Anna Held becomes his first wife, but it's not easy being married to the man who "glorified the American girl." Late in life, now married to Billie Burke, he seems to be all washed up, but... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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The Sensation of the Century! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

8 April 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran Ziegfeld  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (roadshow)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Universal Pictures bought the film rights to Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.'s life story from his widow Billie Burke in late 1933. William Powell was to play Ziegfeld, Burke was to play herself and it would feature specialties by Fanny Brice, Judy Garland (and her sisters), Eddie Cantor and Ray Bolger. When Universal decided to make a faithful film version of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II musical "Show Boat", which Ziegfeld himself had originally produced onstage, Universal sold "The Great Ziegfeld" to MGM in March 1935 while still in pre-production. Only Powell, Brice and Bolger survived to the final picture. Ironically, MGM would buy the rights to "Show Boat" from Universal in 1942, and remake the musical, in Technicolor, in 1951 (Show Boat (1951)). See more »

Goofs

At the Chicago World's Fair, as the Great Sandow (Nat Pendleton) lowers the barbell with the ladies inside, it lowers at a controlled rate, rather than as if a man was actually handling it. See more »

Quotes

Burlesque Prima Donna: Once in burlesque, always in burlesque, unless you got looks, or a voice, or something.
Fanny Brice: Well, that's what I got, kid.
Burlesque Prima Donna: What?
Fanny Brice: Something.
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Crazy Credits

An actor portraying composer Jerome Kern is seen in an office playing "Look for the Silver Lining" on the piano, but he is not mentioned on any cast list for this film. He is simply called "Jerry" by the other characters in the scene. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

It's Been So Long
(1935) (uncredited)
Music by Walter Donaldson
Lyrics by Harold Adamson
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User Reviews

Amazing Film
23 February 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

William Powell stars as Florenz Ziegfeld in his "biography" of the great Broadway producer. This is a lush and long film filled with great scenes and a few that are too long. Clocking in at about 3 hours, THE GREAT ZIEGFELD is one of MGM's biggest attempts at creating a blockbuster musical, and it won the Oscar for best film.

Powell is, as always, terrific. Oddly he did not receive an Oscar nomination for this film but did get one the same year for MY MAN GODFREY. Luise Rainer won the best actress Oscar for her performance as Anna Held. Myrna Loy plays Billie Burke. The great Fanny Brice appears as herself and just about steals the show until they stupidly and abruptly cut away from her as she starts singing "My Man." She doesn't show up again.

Ray Bolger gets a whole number to himself. And Dennis Morgan fronts the mammoth "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" number (although it's the voice of Allan Jones), which ranks among the great production numbers of the era. The camera slowly pans up a seemingly endless spiral staircase filled with pretty girls as draperies are raised to expose more and more staircase. Then we finally reach the top with Virginia Bruce posed there. It's a giddy and spectacular sequence.

The ballet sequence featuring Harriet Hoctor is rather a bore. I'd rather have seen more of Fanny Brice. Brice is hilarious in the dressing-room with a big blonde. Who was she? Is it Gertrude Astor? Powell and Rainer are really excellent in this film. Notable co-stars include Frank Morgan, Joseph Cawthorn, Herman Bing, Marcelle Corday, Nat Pendleton, and Reginald Owen.

And while Brice appears as herself the Will Rogers and Eddie Cantor appearances are fakes.

An excellent film in the old style and worth the 3 hours it takes to watch it. Ziegfeld was a great showman and deserved this fabulous tribute. He died in 1932, having given the world a number of major stars and great shows.


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