A skeptical college professor discovers that his wife has been practicing magic for years. Like the learned, rational fellow he is, he forces her to destroy all her magical charms and ... See full summary »
Gloria, Barabara and Buddy are working at the sheet music counter in a New York department store. On a trip of the whole store, Gloria, who's in love with Buddy, is spotted by vaudeville hoofer Miller, whom his partner Mooney, like her predecessors, has just left. Miller tours with Gloria and both are spotted by Ziegfeld's talent scouts, just before they were splitting up, leaving Gloria with a contract giving Miller a part of her earnings in the next few years. Gloria becomes the star of a new Ziegfeld production, but Barbara, who has been pining for buddy for quite a while, seems to have more luck with him. Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fanny Brice, Will Rogers and Marilyn Miller were scheduled to make cameo appearances in this film. But since Brice was appearing in a play by Ziegfeld rival David Belasco, Miller was under contract to Warner Bros. and Rogers under contract to Fox, they did not appear in the film. See more »
For Ziegfeld research it's a must, and you get to see many of Ziegfeld's stars perform, but the sound is poor and there isn't a whole lot of conflict to drive the plot....
As a woman, it's nice to hear Mary Eaton speak frankly to her boyfriend (a dreamy Edward Crandall) about wanting to live a little and see what she can do before settling down and raising children. He's hurt, but not petulant or insulting (like every boyfriend/husband in ZIEGFELD GIRL and THE DOLLY SISTERS). He does wait for her and seems genuinely supportive of her success, before eventually settling for girl-next-door Gloria Shea -- who actually is treated pretty badly by the film, abandoned and hit by a car! Eaton discovers her boyfriend's moved on just as she goes out for the finale in the Follies, and you see the emotions hit her as she struggles under the weight of an enormous headpiece that cascades around her like a fountain.... OK, so it's not exactly heartbreak, but at least she doesn't die of alcohol poisoning or get slapped around like in the exploitational ZIEGFELD GIRL.
The production numbers are tame by Hollywood standards, and we wait the whole film to finally see one of Flo's evolving stage contraptions. Most of the numbers are arranged in tableau including a gorgeous "painting" of a mermaid being pulled from the sea in a fisherman's net as the Pope and neoclassical figures stand by. Tableaux don't make interesting cinema, but I was happy to see some man flesh in these scenes too as nearly nude males (like Johnny Weissmuller here) were apparently excised from the later interpretations of Ziggy's stagework -- ironic since Ziegfeld had his first success displaying the muscular Sandow, so you know he wasn't shy about it.
Eddie Cantor has an overly long vaudeville scene as a Jewish tailor, but is actually funnier in a brief exchange with a haughty showgirl, Rudy Vallee might have been a somebody back then but he sure doesn't show it here. Helen Morgan sings her signature torch song from atop a piano (a schtick she invented by necessity as she was too short to be seen in many music halls). She is excellent in the film APPLAUSE which also came out in 1929 where she played an aging showgirl trying to keep her daughter out of theater life, but unfortunately her performance here suffers from the antique recording.
Ted Shawn is the imaginative choreographer who arranges the dancers as exotic animals, graceful swans, and nouveau beauties clutching glass globes. Shawn would create the Jacob's Pillow dance festival and was instrumental in forming a uniquely American branch of Modern Dance.
There's a lot of history here, and the opening montage is almost Fritz Lang-esquire, but I wouldn't try to show the whole film to any of my friends. The film quality is terribly uneaven, suggesting inconsistent filmstock. Silent footage from a premier was spliced in so we can get a glimpse of Ziegfeld and Billie Burke, as well as other Broadway dignitaries of the age. It's a tragedy the technicolor scenes are lost (at least, not a part of the Alpha Video release). All-in-all it's not a bad film, the pre-code heroine isn't "punished" for having career ambitions but she experiences some bumps and bruises along the way (by her selfish mother and an unscrupulous manager). She loses the cute guy but he comes to congratulate her when she stars in the show and that seems like a fair compromise; much better than the plots that would slap down any woman who dared to have her own goals in later films.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?