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The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama, Musical | 8 April 1936 (USA)
1:44 | Trailer

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This biography follows the ups and downs of Florenz Ziegfeld, famed producer of extravagant stage revues.



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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Billings
Fannie Brice (as Fannie Brice)
Audrey Dane
Ray Bolger
Dr. Ziegfeld (as Joseph Cawthorne)
Harriet Hoctor ...
Jean Chatburn ...
Mary Lou
Paul Irving ...


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


The Sensation of the Century! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 April 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran Ziegfeld  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (roadshow)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Billie Burke never really rated the film much despite taking a personal interest in the writing of the script. She went to great lengths to make sure that writer William Anthony McGuire never besmirched the good name of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., hence the playing down of his infidelities. See more »


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 »


Sandow: This cheese is so strong it could walk over and say hello to your coffee.
Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.: Well, it had better not. This coffee's too weak to answer it.
See more »

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 »


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


The Old Gray Mare
Played during the 'Paul Jones' dance
See more »

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User Reviews

Stairway to the stars
4 September 2004 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

This film was shown on TCM recently, in the DVD format, since it has an overture and a few minutes of "exit music". The copy was excellent, as it has been greatly restored as it looks extremely smooth to the eye.

Florenz Ziegfield was one of the most brilliant producers of this country at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. He had an eye for what worked on a stage. He was also the discoverer of a lot of the talent that went to have enormous careers of their own, long after they appeared in one of Mr. Ziegfeld's extravaganzas.

Robert Z. Leonard in directing this film had a lot of contributors, no doubt, but it's probably Adrian, the costume designer par excellence that gave this movie a lot of class by recreating for the screen some of the costumes that were associated with Ziegfeld.

William Powell portrays the great Ziegfeld. Mr. Powell is amazing in his interpretation of the creative man on the screen. He is this man he is playing on the screen; he is totally convincing he was born to play the role.

Actually the film leaves a lot of things unexplained. We know that Anna Held is out of the picture, after her divorce, but nothing is mentioned that she had died at all. Also, the relationship with his second wife, Billie Burke, comes as an afterthought since she only appears in the last part of the movie.

Luise Ranier made a compelling Anna Held, the French actress, who obviously never understood her husband, even though it's clear she loved him. She appears as a complete insecure person, never knowing what to do, or what to decide on. As far as the Oscar she won for playing this role, it eludes my comprehension, or maybe that year her competition must have been poor.

Myrna Loy as Billie Burke gives a radiant performance. She was always a convincing actress and in the film she demonstrates her versatility in playing a musical comedy star. The young Myrna Loy was a gorgeous creature, as proven in this film.

The costumes from some of the musical numbers are incredible. Of course, they were made to suit the theatricality of whatever Mr. Ziegfeld presented. Such extravagant numbers will never be presented on a Broadway stage ever again as the cost would be prohibitive.

Virginia Bruce, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Fanny Brice appear in the film, but of course, the picture is dominated by William Powell from beginning to end.

11 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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