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Monday, December 19, 2011

Recently watched: "The Great Ziegfeld"

A 1936 movie about the life and times of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr, "America's Greatest Showman".  The movie is "suggested by romances and incidents" so we don't have the true story of his life.  Played by William Powell, the movie follows Ziegfeld from sideshow barker (at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair) to creator of the Ziegfeld Follies, the Broadway shows which helped launch the careers of Fanny Brice, Ray Bolger and Harriet Hoctor (all who appear as themselves).

The movie is long (185 minutes) and we see several musical numbers in their entirety (the 8 minute "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" is amazing, even for someone who isn't a fan of showy musical numbers).   The movie won Best Picture, and Luise Rainer (as Ziegfeld's first big star, and first wife, Anna Held) won best actress.  Powell's "Thin Man" costar Myrna Loy appears late in the movie as Billie Burke, Ziegfeld second wife (who would play the good witch in "The Wizard of Oz" three years later (along with Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow).

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