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Ziegfeld Follies (1945) Poster

Trivia

At the beginning of the "Bring On The Beautiful Girls" number, several older women are shown. These were women who had actually appeared in the original Ziegfeld Follies on stage.
The horse ridden by Lucille Ball is the Lone Ranger's Silver.
One of only two films in which Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire danced together. The other was That's Entertainment, Part II (1976).
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The machine producing the bubbles for the finale was responsible for one of the greatest filming fiascoes in movie history. On the first day of filming the finale, the gas produced by the bubbles caused Vincente Minnelli's cameraman to faint, on top of a forty foot lift. While Minnelli struggled to stop his cameraman from falling, the bubbles continued to pour from the machine to such an extent that the fire brigade was called to turn it off. Even with the machine under control, the gas from the bubbles was a constant hazard. James Melton filmed with a wet handkerchief in his mouth to protect himself!
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A comic ditty written by George and Ira Gershwin, "The Babbitt and the Bromide", sung, spoken and danced by Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, was originally performed in the 1927 Broadway musical 'Funny Face' by Fred and his sister Adele Astaire.
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The original opening sequence to the film featured stop motion animation designed by Lou Bunin, in which Leo the Lion introduces himself and gives a brief history of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. and his Ziegfeld Follies. Leo then introduces Fred Astaire and the live action portion of the film begins.
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Origial running time was 273 minutes.
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Cut from the film: - Musical number: "If Swing Goes, I Go Too" (music and lyrics by Fred Astaire), directed by George Sidney, sung and danced by Fred Astaire, audio available on Rhino's soundtrack CD and Warner Home Video's DVD. - Musical/comedy number: "Start Off Each Day with a Song" (music and lyrics by Jimmy Durante), directed by Charles Walters, performed by Jimmy Durante. - Musical number: "A Cowboy's Life," directed by Merrill Pye, sung by James Melton. - Musical number: "Liza" (music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin), directed by Vincente Minnelli, sung by Avon Long and the MGM Studio Chorus to Lena Horne, audio available on Rhino's soundtrack CD. - Comedy sketch: "Baby Snooks and the Burglar," directed by Roy Del Ruth, performed by Fanny Brice, Hanley Stafford and B.S. Pully. - Comedy sketch: "Death and Taxes," directed by Vincente Minnelli, performed by Jimmy Durante, Kay Williams, Stephen McNally, and Edward Arnold. - Musical number: "We Will Meet Again in Honolulu" (music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed), directed by Merrill Pye, sung by James Melton, audio available on Rhino's CD and Warner Home Video's DVD. The Esther Williams water ballet from this sequence was reset to an instrumental version of "This Heart of Mine" (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Arthur Freed). - Musical number: "There's Beauty Everywhere" (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Arthur Freed), directed by Vincente Minnelli, sung by James Melton and the MGM Studio Chorus, danced by Fred Astaire, Lucille Bremer and Cyd Charisse, Melton's audio available on Rhino's soundtrack CD and Warner Home Video's DVD. A segment with Miss Charisse and the "bubble girls" was retained in the revamped finale, which now featured Kathryn Grayson and the MGM Studio Chorus performing the vocal, Grayson's audio available on Rhino's soundtrack CD, and the revised scene available on Warner Home Video's DVD.
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Kathryn Grayson's final B-Flat on "There's Beauty Everywhere" had to be re-dubbed.
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The initial version previewed at the Fox Westwood Village Theatre in Los Angeles on November 1, 1944 ran two hours and 53 minutes.
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The lengthy shooting schedule ran between April 10 and August 18, 1944, with retakes plus additional segments filmed on December 22, 1944 and then between January 25 and February 6, 1945.
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Fanny Brice's material in this picture had originated on stage and radio. "The Sweepstakes Ticket" sketch, written by David Freedman, highlighted Miss Brice's final Broadway appearance in "Ziegfeld Follies of 1936." The stage show opened at the Winter Garden Theatre and ran from January 30 through May 9, 1936, plus a return engagement between September 14 and December 19, 1936. Fanny's other comedy scene in the picture, "Baby Snooks and the Burglar" (the footage deleted and now lost), had been performed on NBC's radio series "Good News of 1940." The on-air sketch, entitled "Bungling Burglars," had been broadcast on January 4, 1940, and featured Fanny as the precocious Snooks, with Hanley Stafford playing her exasperated Daddy. The pair would repeat their roles in the cut film sequence, which also featured B.S. Pully as the one burglar. The MGM revue marked Fanny's last film.
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MGM gave this film a two-week roadshow test run at a famed legitimate showplace, the Colonial Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts, beginning August 13, 1945. A second test run began at the Nixon Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 28, 1945. $2.40 was the top ticket price for these engagements, and the film did great business according to the Boxoffice Magazine issue of September 1, 1945, with the advance sale for the Nixon Theatre "setting a new high." A third test run was also done at the Loew's New Rochelle Theatre per The New York Times of September 2, 1945. Disappointed by the largely unenthusiastic audience reaction to the test screenings, studio executives decided against quickly showing the movie nationwide. Changing the running order of the segments, restoring discarded sequences and/or replacing "There's Beauty Everywhere" with a new finale were considered by the Arthur Freed Unit. Hedda Hopper and The New York Times both reported that Busby Berkeley was going to direct a new finale for the picture, but this wasn't done. Ultimately, the movie would receive its Manhattan opening at the Capitol Theatre on March 22, 1946 and its wide release on April 8.
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Judy Garland's number, "A Great Lady Has an Interview" (music and lyrics by Roger Edens and Kay Thompson, choreography by Charles Walters), originally was offered to Greer Garson as spoof of her high-toned Mrs. Miniver/Madame Curie image. After the songwriters demonstrated this change-of-pace routine at the home of the actress, her mother opined, "Well, I don't think so." Garson's then-husband Richard Ney chimed in with "No, it's not for you, dear."
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Original director George Sidney quit after one month of filming and was replaced by Vincente Minnelli.
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Many people have wondered why the "Limehouse Blues" sequence was done with a Chinese background. The British discovered that giving sailors lime juice prevented the disease scurvy, caused by a lack of vitamin C. To provide enough juice for the navy they built a large building on the northern bank of the River Thames in East London, England, and staffed it with hundreds of imported Chinese laborers to extract the juice from shiploads of limes. A "Chinatown" built up around the limehouse (as it was called) to provide housing for the workers. To this day the British are referred to as "Limeys" because of their use of the lime juice.
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Lena Horne hated the ghetto setting for Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane's "Love" so much that she refused to make a commercial single, although she would use the song in her nightclub act several years later. Moreover, Miss Horne would supply her vocal intensity to a trio of renditions on LP: "Give the Lady What She Wants" (RCA Victor, 1958, reissued on a 2004 Japanese CD by BMG), sung to a samba rhythm arranged and conducted by her husband Lennie Hayton; "Lena Horne Sings Your Requests" (Charter/MGM Records, 1963, updated to CD in 1992 by the DRG label), this time the ditty propelled by a swinging tempo arranged and conducted by Marty Paich; then live as part of her legendary, Tony Award-winning performance in "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music," which played on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre between May 12, 1981 and June 30, 1982 (Qwest/Warner Bros. LP, 1981, Qwest/WEA CD, 1995, conducted by Linda Twine, produced by Quincy Jones).
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The idea for the film had been in discussion at MGM since 1939. Planning began in 1943.
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Among the ideas planned in the film, but not used, included: - A spoof of the musical "Lady in the Dark" with Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Lana Turner, and Fred Astaire. - A minstrel number with Garland, Rooney, Astaire, Gene Kelly, Lou Holtz and Nancy Walker. -a duet between Lena Horne and Herb Jeffries. -a skit with Wallace Beery and Marjorie Main. - An "Album of Familiar Songs" medley with Garland, Marilyn Maxwell, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Lena Horne, and Kathryn Grayson. - A "Firehouse Chat," a sketch with Garland, Lucille Ball and Ann Sothern. - "Reading of the Play," a sketch with Garland and Frank Morgan. - "It's Getting Hot in Tahiti" (music and lyrics by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane) with Garland. - A "Fairy Tale" sketch with Katharine Hepburn, Margaret O'Brien, Elizabeth Taylor, and Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins. - "I've Got Those Rooney/Pidgeon/Skelton Blues" with Garland, Ball and Greer Garson (in a number they'd concocted on a war bond train) moaning about their frequent co-stars. -"(We're Having a) Heat Wave with Ethel Waters reprising the number she introduced the Broadway musical "As Thousands Cheer" - "Pass That Peace Pipe" (music and lyrics by Martin, Blane and Roger Edens) with Garland, Rooney, Ball, Walker, George Murphy, June Allyson, Gloria DeHaven, Gene Kelly and Charles Walters (The song was later given to Joan McCracken by Walters when he directed Good News (1947).) - "Sand," a sketch with Garland and Astaire in blackface. -a tap dance number for Eleanor Powell. - "Children's Park" with various MGM stars (including Hepburn, Garland, Horne, Garson, Turner, Hedy Lamarr, Walter Pidgeon, Myrna Loy, Basil Rathbone, Tom Drake and Esther Williams) riding on swings. - "I Love You More In Technicolor Than I Do In Black and White" (music and lyrics by Martin and Blane) with Garland turning down dates from John Hodiak, Van Johnson and James Craig to rekindle with Rooney. (This routine had to be dropped when Rooney entered the Army.) - James Melton suggested he should do a number with either Garland, Jeanette MacDonald, or Grayson.
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Although Kathryn Grayson would replace James Melton in the closing song, Victor Records issued, in early 1945, a commercial disc of Mr. Melton singing "There's Beauty Everywhere" with Al Goodman and His Orchestra (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Arthur Freed).
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Broadway's "Ziegfeld Follies of 1936" had employed two members of its creative team who later would collaborate on the MGM film. Vincente Minnelli received credit as Scenic Designer of the stage show, plus additional credit as Costume Designer for two numbers written by Vernon Duke (music) and Ira Gershwin (lyrics): "Island in the West Indies," sung by Gertrude Niesen and danced by Josephine Baker; and "Sentimental Weather," sung and danced by June Preisser, her sister Cherry Preisser and Duke McHale. The movie's Dance Director, Robert Alton, had choreographed the 1936 Broadway "Follies."
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Lucille Ball, who stars in this production based on Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.'s legendary shows, was actually fired by Ziegfeld from his production, Rio Rita, in the 1930s.
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Marion Bell performs a song from the Giuseppe Verdi opera La Traviata. Her only other movie, A Night at the Opera (1935) also features an extended sequence set at one of Verdi's operas (Il Trovatore).
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From a December 13, 1944 recording session, Decca Records issued a disc of Fred Astaire singing and tapping to a spirited song which he had written for the picture, a number which wound up on the cutting-room floor - "If Swing Goes, I Go Too." On the flip side of the Decca 78, Mr. Astaire sang the romantic ballad which showcased him and Lucille Bremer in the movie, "This Heart of Mine" (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Arthur Freed). Fred's two Decca sides, with an orchestra directed by Al Sack, have been brought back on a French CD box set entitled "Songs & Pictures 1928-1944," released by EPM Music.
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Decca Records released a Judy Garland 78 containing two songs from the score not performed by her in the movie: "Love" (music and lyrics by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane), a fervent air which Judy sang on radio the twice in 1945, then occasionally in her 1951-52 concerts as an encore, and two times on her CBS-TV series, The Judy Garland Show (1963): a duet with Lena Horne from the October 13, 1963 broadcast, and a solo version telecast on March 22, 1964. The Decca flip side was the radiant ballad, "This Heart of Mine" (music by Harry Warren and Arthur Freed). Judy's two commercial cuts, arranged and conducted by Victor Young, recorded on January 26, 1945 and released on March 22, along with an alternate take of "This Heart of Mine," have been presented on her CD box set from MCA, "The Complete Decca Masters (Plus)."
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James Melton's participation deleted from three pop-tune sequences ("A Cowboy's Life," "We Will Meet Again in Honolulu" and the finale, "There's Beauty Everywhere"), the Metropolitan Opera tenor, in his last screen appearance, was confined to the operatic, sharing with soprano Marion Bell "Libiamo ne'lieti calici" from Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata."
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This film was first telecast in Los Angeles Friday 29 March 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), in Philadelphia Sunday 4 January 1959 on WFIL (Channel 6), in New York City 22 March 1959 on WCBS (Channel 2), and in San Francisco 16 November 1959 on KGO (Channel 7. At this time, color broadcasting was in its infancy, limited to only a small number of high rated programs, primarily on NBC and NBC affiliated stations, so these film showings were all still in B&W. Viewers were not offered the opportunity to see these films in their original Technicolor until several years later.
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