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. Judy Garland, Vincente Minnelli, Howard Dietz, William F. Rodgers, Joseph Vogel and MGM east coast sales manager E.K. O'Shea all attended the Boston opening. 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. See more »
During the "A Great Lady Has An Interview," Judy Garland is continuously pushing her hair back out of her face during the interview portion of the scene. However, when the musical part begins her hair is firmly fixed up off of her face and stays that way until the end of the number when her dance moves have obviously loosened it up enough to start falling in her face again. See more »
Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.:
Ah... Saturday, September twenty fifth. Another heavenly day. Ah, yes. Always a heavenly day.
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Ziegfeld Follies credits are in alphabetical order. That is why "Bunin" comes before "Charisse" See more »
Let's give this movie credit for one thing: it doesn't claim to be anything other than what it is: an unconnected series of musical numbers and comedy sketches, meant to honor the late Florenz Ziegfeld. So, if that is what you want, terrific. If a particular scene bores you, you can fast-forward through it without missing anything.
The strength of the film was the wise decision to let Fred Astaire appear in more than one number. His dancing and on-screen personality are always delightful, because his joy in performing is obvious and catching. The highlight of the movie comes in the last performance, when he performs a wonderful tap-dance and singing number with Gene Kelly. They are so palpably having a good time that you almost forget how dreary so much of the rest of the film was!
The comedy sketches are absolutely the most miserable and un-funny things ever captured on celluloid. Painful, painful, painful. Good grief, do they drag on forever. Keenan Wynn performs an old Vaudeville sketch in which a man cannot get the operator to put his call through to a nearby number, while a parade of other characters have no problem putting calls through to the most obscure and distant locations on the planet. Potentially funny, yes? Well, yes, when Lou Costello did it two years earlier in "Who Done It" - that was the definitive version of the sketch. It is one of the funniest things Lou ever did. Why in the world would MGM have Wynn try to do the same sketch - he tries very hard to mimic Lou Costello's facial contortions and grunts and squeals of frustration - but it stinks.
And the "Pay him the two dollars" routine with Victor Booth and Edward Arnold - well, if this represents Vaudeville at its best, then I guess I don't regret not having been alive to see it after all. And Victor Hume takes a rare stab at comedy too; he appears to be trying to mimic Shemp Howard, and none too well at that.
The musical numbers in general are what you would expect from MGM - lavish, expensive-looking, and otherwise spectacular.
While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, I actually enjoyed the claymation at the beginning of the movie. One of the most bizarre and surreal scenes in any MGM movie ever has to be the 45 seconds of Eddie Cantor, in glorious claymation, and in blackface, for goodness sake, singing "If you knew Susie". It is hilarious, and the claymation really captures Cantor's performance style to a Tee - for comparison, I strongly suggest you watch "A Few Minutes with Eddie Cantor" (1923, in sound) on Youtube.
And speaking of classic Hollywood racial insensitivity, a long "drama in pantomime" features Fred Astaire and as a Chinese, stalking another white actress pretending to be Chinese. You really have to shake your head. And are Fred and Gene dancing in front of a statue of Civil War General Nathan Bedford Forrest? Perhaps not, but he sure looks Confederate....
Like I said, Ziegfeld Follies gives you get exactly what it claims to give you. But have the fast-forward ready.
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