Saturday, August 21, 2010
1936: The Great Ziegfeld
To a great extent - much more than necessary - this film is made up of moving scenery and beautiful girls in exotic costumes. Yes, it tells a story, but the story keeps getting interrupted by the Follies. I did like that Fannie Brice and Ray Bolger played themselves, and I thought the giant moving staircase was pretty cool. Obviously, I understand why they needed to include Ziegfeld's shows in a biopic about Ziegfeld, but those scenes just went on and on. The film could have easily been at least a half hour shorter.
The story itself, when the filmmakers decided to focus on it, was well-told. I'm not sure exactly how accurate the film really was, but it was certainly believable. The characters were well-developed, and I enjoyed the cast immensely. Luise Rainer's fabulous performance deservedly won her the Best Actress Oscar that year. Frank Morgan was wonderful, although I can't see him without thinking of the Wizard of Oz (the same was true for Ray Bolger). I never would have cast Myrna Loy as Billie Burke, but I was surprised by how well it worked (I shouldn't have been; it's Myrna Loy after all). What I didn't like was waiting two hours and fifteen minutes for her to show up! She got second billing, and she's barely in any of the film. What's that about? William Powell was very good, too, but as far as his 1936 films go, there is really no comparison: My Man Godfrey should have won the Oscar over this film. And it wasn't even nominated! Go figure.
Stay tuned for The Life of Emile Zola (oh, dear, another biopic, should I be worried?)