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 <email@example.com>
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 »
[on the phone with Ziegfeld after learning of his marriage to Billie Burke]
Hello, Flo... Yes. Here's Anna... I'm so happy for you today, I could not help calling you and congratulate you... Wonderful, Flo! Never better in my whole life!... I'm so excited about my new plans! I'm going to Paris... Yes, for a few weeks, and then I can get back, and then I'm doing a new show, and... Oh, it's all so wonderful! I'm so happy!... Yes... And I hope you are happy, too... Yes?... Oh, I'm so glad for you, ...
[...] See more »
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 »
Interesting & Generally Entertaining, Though Sometimes Overblown
Like its subject, this movie is interesting and generally entertaining, but often overblown. It's well worth seeing, although it could also have been whittled down by a good portion of its running time without losing anything important. It does present a believable and entertaining look at Ziegfeld's shows and personality, along with some good scenes and some good performances that keep it going.
William Powell was a pretty good choice to play Ziegfeld, since he has the knack of making a character eccentric and distinctive without having it come across as too forced or unnatural. And Myrna Loy is always a charming co-star, for Powell or anyone else. Yet it is Luise Rainer who delivers by far the most memorable performance - she makes her character temperamental but endearing, unpredictable but completely sympathetic. The best parts of the movie come when she is a big part of the action, and when her character slips into the background in the second half, the movie loses something. The rest of the large cast does get some good moments, and it's fun to see a couple of performers playing themselves, although some of them don't get nearly enough to do. The many production numbers contain some very good ones, but there are others that aren't worth the amount of time they were given, and that could have been cut down considerably without losing anything.
You can see why this impressed a lot of viewers in its time, and it's still pretty good entertainment. It could have been better, though, with a little more restraint. But then, its excesses are rather in keeping with its subject, and at any rate they don't keep it from being worth seeing.
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