THE GREAT ZIEGFELD
“The Great Ziegfeld” was magical and dedicated. Like the title implies, the film follows the life of Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., the very man who started the famous Ziegfeld Follies.
The film provides what it promises. In the beginning, we are shown a young Ziegfeld who exploits the strong man Sandow. We are told about his weaknesses with money and women; his tendency to lose money quicker than he can find it. And he openly admits he loves women; they’re gorgeous and treasured by him. (Not portrayed like dolls, as they were in “The Broadway Melody.”) Of course, history takes it course with this man, and he finds the appropriate personality to exploit, and his Follies are born. It’s fantastic and honest.
William Powell is so playful with his fellow actors; his performance is sincere. And while you follow him through his personal history, you never bore of Ziegfeld’s scheming and dreaming. Anna Held was marvelous as his first wife, and you truly feel for her when the women of the Follies come into her life. As a bonus, I was introduced to Fanny Brice in this film; I enjoyed the stark contrast she brought to the film when compared to the frilly beauties of the Follies.
Whoever took the time to cast, to organize, to direct, and to film this movie was a genius. Not only was the plot practical and enjoyable and true to the title, but the film was like stepping into a time machine and traveling back to classical theatre. Every performance had purpose and beauty; it was obviously choreographed and directed by dedicated artists. That deserves respect and admiration. (The only downside to this film: the three hours it takes to watch.)
Honestly, if you enjoy Lady Gaga, watch “The Great Ziegfeld.” If you love the idea of Vaudeville, watch this. If you love pretty artists, watch this. If you enjoy “The Greatest Showman,” this film is surely a precursor to its wonder. If you’re a true artist, I challenge you to take the time to watch this film; it will not disappoint.