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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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(screenplay)
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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:
...
...
...
...
Jack Billings
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Fannie Brice (as Fannie Brice)
...
Audrey Dane
...
Sampston
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Ray Bolger
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Sidney
...
Dr. Ziegfeld (as Joseph Cawthorne)
...
Harriet Hoctor ...
Herself
...
Mary Lou
Paul Irving ...
Erlanger
...
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

Taglines:

10 Big Shows In 1 See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 April 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran Ziegfeld  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (roadshow)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Nat Pendleton was a former champion weightlifter and easily duplicates some of Eugen Sandow's feats in this film; at the time, Nat was the only man to have ever played a strongman from this time period. See more »

Goofs

The "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" number incorporates snippets of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue", which was premiered circa 1924, but after its performance Anna Held, who died in 1918, is still portrayed as alive and married to Ziegfeld. See more »

Quotes

Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.: [Scolding the wardrobe man for having dressed Miss Brice in an inappropriately showy costume] How do you expect Miss Brice to sing a sad song about her man, dressed up like a nightingale? I find personalities, and you try to destroy them. I didn't engage Miss Brice as a showgirl.
Clarence: [after having altered Miss Brice's costume to the bare minimum] Is that all right, Mr. Ziegfeld?
Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.: Well, it's all right for now. Tomorrow, get her another outfit. And don't make it, buy it. Go to a second-hand store and ...
[...]
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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 Some of the Best (1943) See more »

Soundtracks

You Never Looked So Beautiful
(1936) (uncredited)
Music by Walter Donaldson
Lyrics by Harold Adamson
Performed by male chorus and Virginia Bruce
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Jeez Luise
17 December 2002 | by See all my reviews

Before anybody goes on for one minute more about how brilliant Luise Rainer is as Anna Held, let's remember that she took the Oscar from Garbo's Camille. I mean, come on. Rainer is pretty and her instincts are right, and her famous "telephone scene" expertly employs the old smiling-through-tears device. But it's hardly as challenging a role as Marguerite, and Rainer's undeniable Continental charm can go only so far.

The movie itself is a corker. William Anthony McGuire's screenplay is far above average for this musical-biography genre; it's full of smart wisecracks, and while it heavily fictionalizes Ziegfeld's life and persona (it makes him much more suave and irresistible than he was), it gets the big things right: his invention of the big musical revue, his obsession with glorifying the American girl, his unparalleled showmanship and eye for talent.

Speaking of talent, you get a full, uninterrupted, great Ray Bolger number, several clever and lavish production numbers, and a snippet of Fanny Brice (but cutting away from her "My Man" is unforgivable). The actors playing Eddie Cantor and Will Rogers are amusingly terrible. And Virginia Bruce is memorably nasty as a temperamental showgirl.

The Academy named this Best Picture of 1936. And you know, it probably was.


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