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Ziegfeld Follies
Comedy, Musical
IMDB rating:
Roy Del Ruth, Lemuel Ayers
Gene Kelly as Gentleman in 'The Babbit and the Bromide'
Marion Bell as Violetta in scene from 'La Traviata'
Kathryn Grayson as Herself in 'Beauty'
Red Skelton as J. Newton Numbskull in 'When Television Comes'
Fanny Brice as Norma in 'A Sweepstakes Ticket'
James Melton as Alfredo in scene from 'La Traviata'
Victor Moore as Lawyer's Client in 'Pay the Two Dollars'
Lucille Bremer as Princess in 'This Heart of Mine' / Moy Ling in 'Limehouse Blues'
Lucille Ball as Herself in 'Here's to the Ladies'
Lena Horne as Herself in 'Love'
William Powell as Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.
Fred Astaire as Himself (in "Here's to the Ladies") / Raffles (in "This Heart of Mine") / Tai Long (in "Limehouse Blues") / Gentleman (in "The Babbit and the Bromide")
Judy Garland as The Star in 'A Great Lady Has An Interview'
Edward Arnold as Lawyer in 'Pay the Two Dollars'
Storyline: In heaven, showman fondly recalls his first Broadway revue, the Ziegfeld Follies of 1907. Even from heaven, he is hoping that he can, for one last time, create that same magic by mounting one last follies. As he thinks about who he would like to appear in these follies, he is assisted in realizing his fantasy, at least in his own mind, by such luminaries as , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and, of course, a bevy of beautiful girls.
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Strange Brew
An unusual premise, even for musicals. The mix of numbers ranges from brilliant to bad to unusual (there's that word again). The bad is Fanny Brice (I'm still trying to figure out why this woman was popular) and the "Pay the Two Dollars" sketch. The unusual: "Here's to the Ladies," the accompanying Lucille Ball "lion taming" sequence and the surreal "Beauty." The high point for me is "This Heart of Mine" with Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer, a truly beautiful number, with the unusual (again) touch of using conveyer belts in the sequence (something Astaire would also use later in Royal Wedding). The other Astaire-Bremer pairing, "Limehouse Blues" is also gorgeous and often overlooked. Bremer's work here is first rate and demonstrates she deserved the star treatment MGM never really gave her. Watching this film is also a reminder that musical numbers on this scale will probably never be filmed again.
Simply lavish!
Ziegfield Follies is an unusual film as it has no plot. That's a good thing because you don't have to worry about unrealistic plot lines or the lack of depth in characters. It doesn't need a plot at all. Instead, it is a series of musical/comedy numbers which have nothing to do with each other. Most of them are musical, only two or three are comedy sketches.

Although SOME scenes do drag on for a while, you can simply press FWD like I did. But some are just simply lavish in every way: costume, dance, colour, sets, props... the glory of technicolour! It is truly beautiful, you have to appreciate the hard work they put into this magnificent show.

The singing, dancing and music is wonderful. My favourite is the dance between Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, or maybe the Finale. I definitely recommend this movie to all musical buffs... to others, this film may appear incredibly boring. Personally, I very much enjoyed it. A joy.
Great stars.
Lucille Ball excellent. Cracking that whip. Dressed in pink. Those cats. Meow.

Tap extravaganza with Astaire and Kelly. Too awesome. A pairing for the ages.

Booze Skelton sketch delightful, and memorable.

Two dollars. I always remember that one.

Charise beautiful pointe ballet dancer. Also great pair dancers were Bremer and Astaire.

O'Brien always excellent in her deadpan singing -- witness The Harvey Girls.

William Powell great, as always. I liked the heavenly Shakespeare, Barnum and Ziegfeld motifs, as well as the dolls in the beginning. These dolls are so darling and lifelike.

This movie was released the year I was born. The War -- World War Two -- was over, and people wanted to relax and enjoy life. The actual Ziegfeld had actually passed away the previous decade, the victim of bankruptcy and IMO the First World War taking away his audience and subsequently causing more people to leave the old ways behind (live performances) and prefer silent and then sound films.

In real life, it is said that Ziegfeld's wife, Billie Burke, went back to work to pay Ziegfeld's bills -- he apparently was wiped out in the Stock Market Crash of 1929. He passed away a few years later. Billie had been a stage star in New York City for Charles Frohman pre-World War One, married Ziegfeld and retired from performing (to Frohman's disapproval and disgust). She had a daughter with Ziegfeld named Patricia. You will see Billie in some 1930s and 1940s films, including the blockbuster The Wizard of Oz -- portraying Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. She looked beautiful in her tall crown and pink gauzy gown in that movie, and in other movies she was well known for portraying her ditzy, comedic, goofy society matrons.

This movie portrays the deceased Ziegfeld as living in the lap of luxury, but his real life ended, I feel, in near poverty. Still, I enjoyed the heavenly furnishings, etc., near the beginning of this film.

I am an historian of theatre and film. I have a B.A. Degree in History. I am also a futurist, meaning that we study the past and discuss trends leading to the future. I have studied theatrical critiquing and cinematic techniques. I enjoy studying the lives of actors and actresses, in stage, film and television, both present and past, but especially in the past.

I enjoy historical films, as well as song and dance musicals. This film fits these categories.

A Lavish MGM Musical!
This movie really has no overall plot, the plot is comfortably held within all the individual numbers. Don't take this movie too seriously, watch it with an open mind, and remember, this is an MGM Musical, a lovely mix of fun, costumes, and talent.

Some of my favourite parts in this movie are "This Heart Of Mine" with Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer, "A Lady Has An Interview" starring Judy Garland, "Guzzler's Gin" starring Red Skelton, and "The Babbit and The Bromide" starring Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire.
1/2 Grandeur, 1/2 Glamour
If you get easily bored with those old movies that seem to roll and roll forever, this is for you. It really has no plot, but you really don't need one. You could call this movie the Grand Ball, because it really is a set of dances. (Except for a few comedy scenes) Overall, I strongly believe that it is a really good movie, especially in those Fred Astaire numbers (Here's to the Girls, This Heart of Mine, and the Limehouse Blues) This movie is a real MUST for classic movie and Ziegfeld lovers alike.
Where's the plot?
There are two main sorts of musical fans--those who really want to see singing and dancing and those who want a plot as well as SOME singing and dancing. I am definitely in the latter category and absolutely demand a strong plot to anchor the film. Because of this, "Ziegfeld Follies" is exactly the sort of film I do NOT like, as there really is no plot. It's much more like an MGM talent show with one skit after another tacked together. Each segment stands on its own and is either a BROAD comedy skit or a musical number.

The film begins with what is supposed to be a plot--but it really isn't incorporated into the rest of the movie. The film begins in Heaven--with Flo Ziegfeld thinking how great it would be if he could do one last show--then the skits follow. They are all very pretty--with lovely sets, top actors and vivid color. But, on the other hand, none of the many segments is particularly good. No plot--just a nice looking MGM talent show.

If you don't care about a complete absence of plot and don't mind watching second-rate dancing and singing and third-rate comedy, then by all means watch "Ziegfeld Follies". However, MGM made many, many musicals that are simply better--and with engaging plots. Not exactly my sort of film.

By the way, there is an Esther Williams swimming number in this film that is SUPPOSED to be a stage show. How in the heck could ANY audience sitting in a theater really see an Esther Williams dance number?! This has always perplexed me about a lot of her films, as there is no way the audience could even see most of the water ballet in these numbers unless they are up on stage or sitting in the rafters!
Cast As Parts Are Better Than The Whole Musical
When I first heard about this movie, & saw that the real Fanny Brice, Red Skelton, Judy Garland, & all the other greats from this era were in this, I knew I had to see it. I only wish the whole film lived up to the sum of its parts. The star power in this movie would blow anything over.

I think the fault here is that the film comes off as a lot of dis-jointed performances which while well-staged & good, have nothing to tie you to the film & stay interested in it. The great musicals such as 2006's DreamGirls have that kind of thing. As a result, the main interest for someone watching this is to take a DVD of it with a scene menu & go to you favorite performers part in it.

After seeing Streisand play Fanny Brice, it is interesting to see the real woman as she was versus Bab's portrayal of her. This film is lavish & MGM's Technicolor is great as usual. The film just doesn't flow very well which is a shame. It looks like no one wanted to hire good writers for a script.

MGM made this on the presumption that just the stars would put people in the theater seats. I bet it did in it's time, but I only wish it had been done better now.
That's entertainment
"Ziegfeld Follies" an MGM feature from 1945 was shown recently on cable. This film was a sort of revue that combine comedy and music and showcased the stars under contract with the studio. If musicals were to succeed, they usually came from the folks that knew how to do this genre with style, which is the case of this entertaining movie.

Fred Astaire shows up in a couple of segments paired with Louise Bremer, a new partner for him. Mr. Astaire does what he did best: dance to his heart content. There is also a duet with Gene Kelly, another dancer who went to make a career in the studio. The dancing sequences are about the best things in the film.

The other highlight is Judy Garland in "A Great Lady Has An Interview", directed by none other than Vincente Minelli. The number shows Ms. Garland in all her splendor in a number that is quite a departure for her. Ms. Garland had a sweetness that came through easily in front of the camera, something that appeared to be a natural gift.

There are some funny skits involving Victor Moore, Fanny Brice, Hume Cronyn, William Frawley, Red Skelton, Edward Arnold, among others. Lovely Lena Horne makes a wonderful appearance singing "Love". Even Esther Williams, another MGM star has a chance to do some swimming. William Powell shows up as Florenz Ziegfeld.

Directors included George Sidney, Roy Del Ruth, Vincente Minelli, Charles Waters, Lemuel Ayers, Robert Lewis and Merrill Pye. The stable of writers of MGM contributed to make this a special film to be treasured.
A series of Ziegfeld-inspired production numbers and skits.
A glimpse of what the Ziegfeld Follies must have been like for those of us who are too young (which is most of us now, I suppose) to have ever been privileged to have seen a show. Some of the numbers are done tongue-in-cheek, some are done seriously, and some are just plain, straight-forward wonderful. The production numbers are typically lavish, as befits a Ziegfeld number, with lots of beautiful women and many of Ziegfeld's biggest and best stars. A must see for old movie musical lovers and especially Gene Kelly and/or Fred Astaire fans, since this is the one and only time you will see these two great dancers dance together on screen. There's a number done by the genuine Fanny Brice for all of you Barbra Streisand fans to check out, as well. And, of course, let's not forget Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Kathryn Grayson, Red Skelton, Lucille Bremer, Esther Williams, and, yes, Lucille Ball with a whip (although she's dressed in a pink ballgown, not in black).
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