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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 movie of my childhood. It's what first put the thought of making films in my head. Recently I viewed the movie again, and it's still as charming and as wonderful as ever! Just about every momemnt...
Published on July 14 2002 by Alex Udvary

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A SUPERB FILM BIO - ONLY AVERAGE LOOKING TRANSFER
"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:...
Published on Feb. 3 2004 by Nix Pix


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A SUPERB FILM BIO - ONLY AVERAGE LOOKING TRANSFER, Feb. 3 2004
By 
Nix Pix (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Great Ziegfeld (DVD)
"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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4.0 out of 5 stars BLINDINGLY OPULENT AND SPELLBINDINGLY ENTERTAINING!, Jan. 30 2004
By 
Nix Pix (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Great Ziegfeld (DVD)
"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
By 
Usonian33 (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Great Ziegfeld (DVD)
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
By 
Chris Aldridge (Washington, DC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Great Ziegfeld (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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5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Show On Earth!, July 14 2002
By 
Alex Udvary (chicago, il United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Great Ziegfeld (VHS Tape)
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 movie of my childhood. It's what first put the thought of making films in my head. Recently I viewed the movie again, and it's still as charming and as wonderful as ever! Just about every momemnt of it brought enjoyment.
It's not hard to see why this movie won the best picture Oscar in 1936. The big sets, the lavish costumes, beautiful women, and the all-star cast headed by William Powell (whom sadly wasn't given a nomination for this film, but, was up that year anyway, for "My Man Godfrey")and including Myrna Loy (Whom has acted with Powell in "The Thin Man" in 1934, I think), Luise Rainer (Who won an Oscar for her role, she also won the following year for "The Good Earth"), Frank Morgan & Ray Bolger (Both probably best known for their roles in "The Wizard of Oz" Morgan - Oz, Bolger - The Scarecrow), Fanny Brice, and Virgina Bruce, are just a few of the famous face who appear in and out of this movie. One can only imagine, since I wasn't even born yet, what kind of reaction this film was received with when first released. I can only guess people were truly taken away with it. It really must of been something special to see this back then. This isn't really a great film. I enjoy it true, and I will continue to watch it again and again. But, this movie is just like the shows put on by Florenz Ziegfeld himself, an extravaganza! It "pretty" to watch. It's fun to go back in time and relive the past. To see what entertained people back then, but otherwise, this is not a "best picture" type of film. But, like I said, it's understandable as to why it won back then. People, I assume must of never seen a big, splashy movie like this before. And even in the modern world, I'm still amazed by it. Then again, I'm a bit bias towards these movies. I love films from the 30's and 40's. They're part of my childhood. Even though I'm 19.
"The Great Ziegfeld" tells the story of America's greatest showman, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. (William Powell). We see him at the Chicago World Fair in the late 1890's. He's struggling with a "world's strongest man" act. His main competition is Jack Billings (Frank Morgan), who also happens to be a close friend. He has a "women's show" called "Little Egypt". We see Ziegfeld, then turn himself into a great showman. By playing the press. He creates stories to keep his talent in the papers, then he gets a break. It meets Anna Held (Luise Rainer, and I agree with everyone on here, her performance is a standout. It's truly unforgettable). Who he opens a lot of doors for and she for him. But, it's not untill he gets an idea to do a "women's show" "glorifying" the everyday women, "The Ziegfeld Follies", that he achieves his greatest success. I really don't want to spoil too much of the film for those who haven't seen to film yet, but, that was a brief description of the events that take place.
"The Great Ziegfeld" went on to earn 7 Oscar nominations, and won 3;"Best Picture", "Best Actress" & "Best Dance Direction". The film's highpoints for me include the big elegant dance number of "A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody" which goes into a medley including Puccini's Un Bel Di Verdremo, and closing with Gershwin's "Rhpasody In Blue". Then there's Ray Bolger's song and dance to "She's A Follies Girl". His dancing is really amazing and proves what type of talent he was. I also enjoyed seeing Buddy Dolye impersonate one of my favorites Eddie Canntor singing "If You Knew Susie". Seeing Fanny Brice sing "Yiddle On Your Fiddle" and "My Man" was also wonderful. There's a nice set piece when Vigina Bruce sings "You Never Looked So Beautiful" and hearing "You" put a smile on my face.
If you enjoy classic films, than this should please all filmbuffs. It's nice knowing, that while Hollywood can't make 'em like this anymore, I'm still able to revisit my childhood as long as we have these tapes.
Bottom-line: The ultimate movie of my childhood is one of the great early movie musicals of all time! Big and splashy it shows us what Hollywood was once like, and what it can never be like again. This is one to watch for it's "time capsule" purposes mostly.
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4.0 out of 5 stars THE MASTER SHOWMAN., March 30 2002
This review is from: The Great Ziegfeld (VHS Tape)
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) famous the world over. Billie Burke, the fey and sparkling character actress who made a new career for herself in the talkies following the death of her spouse, personally chose Powell for the role. While Powell didn't resemble the showman physically, he reputedly had the right "manner and approach". Costing a phenomenal (by 1936 standards) l.5 million dollars to film, this extravaganza traces Ziegfeld's entire career from his sponsorship of strongman Sandow at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair to his initiation of his famed Follies in 1907 which led to a great career as a musical entrepreneur - i.e., the 1927 stage version of SHOW BOAT, etc. - followed by his death in the depressed year of 1932. Powell is strangely touching as Ziegfeld; his performance conveys many facets about the man: his esthetically impeccable and exquisite taste, his unique genius in his chosen field - and even his financial impracticality. Powell's performance is winning, poised and charming as he gets across the poignancy implicit in Ziegfeld's financial misfortunes following the 1929 crash, and scenes with his daughter Patricia are done with sensitivity. Loy was not exactly an inspired choice to play Burke, but she plays with poise and charm. Luise Rainer won an AA for her playing of the famous chanteuse, Anna Held and her telephone scene is classic: she poignantly hides her grief while congratulating Flo upon his marriage to Billie. I certainly didn't think Virginia Bruce was best choice for the gal on top of the "Stairway to the Stars", i.e. A PRETTY GIRL IS LIKE A MELODY (as sung by Stanley Morner aka Dennis Morgan) sequence!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous and Frustrating, Jan. 22 2002
By 
Gary F. Taylor "GFT" (Biloxi, MS USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Great Ziegfeld (VHS Tape)
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 it very enjoyable. The main cast--William Powell, Luise Rainer, Frank Morgan, and Myrna Loy--plays with considerable wit and precision, and the supporting cast includes such famous Ziegfield stars as Fanny Brice and Ray Bolger.
Unfortunately, the film is not as much fun as it sounds. The script and story give us an extremely sanitized and rather sentimental version of showman Flo Ziegfield, his loves, and his stars, and in spite of film's lavishness and fine performances, it gradually becomes a very mild but very elephantine movie that only really comes to life during its musical numbers. These a justly famous, with the "A Pretty Girl" number living up to its reputation as perhaps the single most extravagant musical number ever placed on film.
Luise Rainer's famous performance as Anna Held will charm virtually every viewer, and fans of Powell, Loy, and Morgan will certainly find much to enjoy--as will musical fans of all stripe. But even so, as the film drags on and on, most viewers will be tempted to hit the fast-forward button more than once.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Quite the spectacle, Dec 10 2000
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This review is from: The Great Ziegfeld (VHS Tape)
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 Pretty Girl is Like a Melody," "Rhapsody in Blue," arias from various operas, and women in cat-faced headpieces (all topped by a colossal spiral screen that drapes over everything at the end). In some ways, this film was meant to out-do the Busby Berkeley spectaculars, and its most successful moment is actually a medley of four wonderful and imaginative staged songs at the rooftop of Ziegfeld's number: "You've Got to Pull Strings," "She's a Ziegfeld Follies Girl," "You," and "You Never Looked So Beautiful Before." The movie is worth seeing just for this, and for the glimpse of great showgirl costumes during the latter song.
There's not much going for the movie in dramatic terms, although you do get Luise Rainer making her famous smiling-through-tears phone call (for which she won an Academy Award). Otherwise, things are pretty dull: in fitting with the usual santization of public figures' lives in biopics, Flo Ziegfeld is not a philanderer at all, but rather a poor completely honorable sap who keeps getting trapped in compromising situations by drunk showgirls like Virginia Bruce. Even Myrna Loy can't add much to the mix: her impersonation of Billie Burke is absolutely nothing like Billie Burke, and she and William Powell make a pretty dull couple in this film (you'd never know how much fun they had been in the THIN MAN films from this).
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Extravagant Man, Nov. 25 2000
This review is from: The Great Ziegfeld (VHS Tape)
As someone who is not a fan of musicals, I was already at a disadvantage before the movie even started. I fast forwarded through most of the numbers, and they looked dazzling enough and I'm sure would be entertaining for people who like that sort of thing. I concentrated on the drama between the numbers, and with that I was quite satisfied. William Powell is excellent as the famed, extravagant theatrical producer, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. The film chronicles the many highpoints and lowpoints of his career, as well as his two marriages. Myrna Loy co-stars as his second wife, actress Billie Burke (Glinda the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz), and although she gets second billing, she doesn't have much to do. But the chemistry between her and Powell is once again a high point. Luise Rainer, who had a brief career in Hollywood, stars as Anna Held, the first wife, a passionate, impulsive singer that Ziegfeld made a star of in America. Rainer's scene on the phone has become quite famous, and she plays all of her scenes with great drama. The film is a bit long, but it doesn't get boring, thanks to the stars, the story, and the great personalities that appear (Ray Bolger, Fanny Brice). And for people that like musicals, this will probably entertain them even more.
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4.0 out of 5 stars epitome of 30s musicals, Feb. 18 2004
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This review is from: The Great Ziegfeld (DVD)
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 of the Depression. william powell, luise rainer and myrna loy are all wonderful, thought myrna loy's billie burke came very late in the movie. my favorite scene was when Flo (powell) was courting Billie (loy) at grant's tomb. simplicity and wonderful sweet. you ll have to see it just for that scene. luise rainer's telephone won her the oscar. the movie has a few touching scenes, but i did wish the movie was brisker and tighter.
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