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The Great Ziegfeld

William Powell    Unrated   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 18.70
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The Great Ziegfeld + TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Jean Harlow
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Flo Ziegfeld's midway attraction isn't drawing flies. "How's business, Ziggy?" a rival taunts. This winner of 3 Academy Awards(R) including Best Picture provides the career-chronicling answer. Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.'s business was good (with Broadway's legendary Follies and more), bad (including times the showman could scarcely rub two nickels together) and rarely lacking optimistic excess. Year: 1936 Director: Robert Z. Leonard Starring: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Luise Rainer


Winner of three Academy Awards® including Best Picture, The Great Ziegfeld stars William Powell in a biopic "suggested by romances and incidents in the life of America's greatest showman, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr." With admirable accuracy, the film follows Ziegfeld's career from small-time sideshow barker to creator of the famous Ziegfeld Follies, the collection of singing, dancing, and comedy vaudeville acts that launched the careers of such luminaries as Fanny Brice, Ray Bolger, and Harriet Hoctor, all of whom play themselves in the film. In the title role, Powell offers a believable combination of ambition and hucksterism, and his Thin Man co-star Myrna Loy makes a late appearance as his second wife, but it's large-eyed Luise Rainer who has the showier role (and won an Oscar®) as Ziegfeld's first big star and first wife. The musical numbers, however, don't hold up quite as well as the plot, and the film is overlong at 185 minutes. It's fascinating, though, to see the vintage stars performing, and the eight-minute spectacle "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" is an eye-popper, with an elaborate revolving set supporting a large cast singing and dancing to the Irving Berlin tune while throwing in some Puccini, Strauss, Leoncavallo, and Gershwin for good measure. --David Horiuchi

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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Nix Pix
"The Great Ziegfeld" is a biographic film based on the life of Broadway impressario, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. Brimming with stellar performances by William Powell, Myrna Loy and Luise Rainer (who walked off with the Best Actress Oscar)a wonderful score and mind-boggling production values, this is one heck of a good time for a night's entertainment!
TRANSFER: Unfortunately, Warner Brothers gives us a somewhat tired looking print of this classic film. Though the gray scale is generally well balanced, some of the picture appears to be out of focus while other portions are filled with excessive film grain. Dirt, age related artifacts and an incredible amount of scratches in some scenes really detract from the over all visual presentation. The audio is MONO and, as with the picture, is not adequate. During some of the songs the background hiss is excessive.
EXTRAS: A flimsy featurette that all too briefly attempts to "sum up" the film and the real life of one of the 20th century's greatest showman.
BOTTOM LINE: Because you are not likely to see this film revisited in a Deluxe Edition I am recommending to add it to your library. But it in no way stands up to Warner's previous DVD mastering efforts on "Now Voyager" or "Mildred Pierce".
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By Nix Pix
"The Great Ziegfeld" is a biographic film on Broadway impressario, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., the man who "glorified the American girl". Determined to squeeze every last ounce of opulence from its coffers, MGM spared no expense in retelling what is essentially a melodrama with musical numbers tossed in for good effect.
Flo (William Powell)is a cheap carnival barker when he crosses paths with Anna Held (Luise Rainer). Their chemistry is instant and through her talent as an artist, fame comes to them both. However, all bliss is fleeting and their marriage ends when Flo takes up with a chorus girl. But he ditches her for sassy Billie Burke (Myrna Loy) and then proceeds to create a series of lavish spectacles that only MGM could afford to do justice to. The most spectacular of these remains "A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody"; a gargantuan revolving platform covered in dancers and art deco magificence.
Aside: Flo's second wife, Billie was a contract player at MGM during this time. Her best known role is as 'Glinda' the witch of the north in "The Wizard of Oz".
TRANSFER: Surprisingly smooth and very well balanced black levels and a good gray scale are the real selling features of this 3 hr. plus spectacle. Unfortunately an excess of age related dirt and scratches greet the viewer throughout the first hour of running time. However, things get cleaned up half way through for a really stunning transfer. Shadows and contrast levels are exemplary. The audio is clean, well balanced and quite simply, one of the best you are likely to encounter for a film of this vintage.
EXTRAS: A couple of featurettes that round out the history of the film - all too briefly.
BOTTOM LINE: Next to "Yankee Doodle Dandy" - another show folk bio with guts, "The Great Ziegfeld" is most readily recognized as one of the best! Add it to your film library!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Feel free to leave at Intermission Dec 22 2003
The first half of this film is exciting--as Florenz Ziegfeld creates his Broadway reputation, woos Anna Held to the stage, and mounts his "Follies." There is a thrilling backstage atmosphere, and a beautiful recreation of the era (at least 1936's view of it--as stills from the original follies prove they weren't nearly as stupendous, how could they be?). But then, after the centerpiece "Melody" number (in a word--wow), the movie slips into a sleepwalk, tries to create drama where there isn't any, and commits felonies like cutting away from Fanny Brice while she's singing "My Man." There is also a ballet number with Harriet Hoctor that is a horror, and is what fast forward buttons were invented for. Essential viewing for those interested in 30s cinema--it truly is a gigantic movie. But you should brace yourself for that last hour. (See also "Rosalie," a Ziegfeld show MGM turned into a film the following year, for more of the studio's crazy "bigger is better" mentality. That film, written by the same writer and almost topping this one in scale, is catastrophically bad.)
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Never looked so beautiful before." Sept. 25 2002
Format:VHS Tape
There are a few things to know going in: It's a biography with music (but not a musical), it's more than 60 years old, and it's three hours long!! Now I'm okay with all that, but I'm an old movie snob. This one is proof positive of the old Hollywood dream factory, where you were guaranteed happiness, pathos, bells, and whistles in practically every picture. But the film isn't as happy-go-lucky as you might expect; it gives a rather astringent portrayal of a gifted showman who knew how to dazzle audiences, but never how to save a buck. According to this book, his was a never-ending cycle of glittery and expensive theatrics pitted against dodging creditors his whole life. In that respect, we are to conclude that his lack of business sense was tempered by his need to entertain. He also knew talent, as is represented by his discovery scenes with Bolger and real Ziegfeld veteran Fanny Brice. (Watch how he hires her on the strength of her comedy, then humiliates her during a rehearsal in order to get her in the mood to belt out "My Man.") And of course, not enough can be said of the eight-minute "A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody" finale where spangled showgirls, opera singers, grand pianos, and a single, all-enveloping curtain hang on a revolving "wedding cake" spiral staircase. You have to see it to believe it.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 stars.This Berkeley style musical throws out all the stops!
The Great Ziegfeld(released April/36)was MGMs most lavish musical picture for that time and many would argue its' most lavish ever. Read more
Published on March 20 2011 by Robert Badgley
4.0 out of 5 stars epitome of 30s musicals
a big extravaganza musical. the musicals are very grand and ostentious but very much in the tradition of musicals in the 30s when entertainment was escape from the dreary reality... Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2004 by Sheila Jellybean
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Show On Earth!
I can't quite remember how old I was when I first saw this film, I must of been 4 or 5, all I remember was I didn't attend school yet, but, "The Great Ziegfeld", was the ultimate... Read more
Published on July 14 2002 by Alex Udvary
4.0 out of 5 stars THE MASTER SHOWMAN.
The legendary Florenz Ziegfeld was the consummate showman who, in the 1907-32 period "glorified the American girl" in a series of Broadway productions that made him (and them)... Read more
Published on March 30 2002 by "scotsladdie"
3.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous and Frustrating
On a purely technical level, everything about THE GREAT ZIEGFIELD is big: big sets, big costumes, big musical numbers, big crowds, all of it lavish, all of it over the top, all of... Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2002 by Gary F. Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Saw it as a child.
I saw this movie when it first came out, I was about 12 years old.I have always been a big movie fan,and I always loved the lavish musicals, and the comedies. Read more
Published on Aug. 10 2001 by "charlotte34"
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite the spectacle
Anybody who has ever seen this bit of kitsch will remember it's famous highlight: the enormous musical number set on a revolving wedding cake set that features snippets of "A... Read more
Published on Dec 10 2000 by Jay Dickson
4.0 out of 5 stars An Extravagant Man
As someone who is not a fan of musicals, I was already at a disadvantage before the movie even started. Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2000 by James L.
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