Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.
I haven’t heard a great deal of enthusiasm for The Great Ziegfeld, the winner for Best Picture in 1936. Because of this, I can’t admit to going into it with a great deal of excitement. That lack of excitement cooled even further when I realized that it clocks in somewhere north of three hours. This was countered by the realization that it stars William Powell and features an appearance from Myrna Loy. I like Powell and I like Loy, and I particularly like them together, so I had hope. I didn’t realize that Myrna Loy doesn’t show up until well into the final hour of the film.
This is the story of Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. (William Powell), the frequently-broke Broadway impresario. We go from the start of his career as a carnival barker through his hit and failed shows and his tremendous ups and downs, his two great romances, his failures, his triumphs, and his eventual death. A lot of what we see are bits and pieces of the shows he put on—we get a done of musical numbers to show us exactly where his money was going and to show us why he was considered a great showman. It would be unfair to suggest that these numbers are a waste of time. There’s some great spectacle with some of them, and just after the intermission, we get Ray Bolger’s first feature film dance performance that is truly one of the great comedy dance routines ever created.