Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Great Ziegfeld

My quest continues... the latest Best Picture I watched was The Great Ziegfeld, the 1936 winner. And, I have to say that it was really good. I thought the acting was really quite good, which was surprising to me considering what I've seen in older movies.

I knew nothing about Florenz Ziegfeld before watching this movie and subsequently reading up a bit about his life. The movie portrayed him as a likable fellow with some serious game. He was probably the PUA of his time, plus he went from broke to rich to broke a few times in the movie, which is always good for drama. He was definitely an interesting character, and the movie did a good job developing his character.

He was known for his Broadway productions (and publicity stunts), including what he's most famous for, the Ziegfeld Follies, which involved such stars as Fannie Brice, W.C. Fields, Will Rogers, and Bob Hope. And, the movie certainly wanted to show off some musical productions to its audience. I don't know much about that time period and whether or not Broadway musicals were accessible to the common people or not. I would assume not, and so this movie was probably a nice way of exposing the public to that form and level of entertainment.

Some interesting things that I learned about Ziegfeld from what I read about him... he was married to Billie Burke (not a household name, but if I said she was Glinda the Good Witch of the North, you'd know who she was instantly). He hired Eugen Sandow, the father of modern bodybuilding, early in his career. Here's Strength and How to Obtain It, one of Sandow's books on how to get buff. The Sandow guy was was actually an important character in the early part of the movie. And, finally, Ziegfeld lost his ass in the stock market (due to margin and the big crash in 1929). That, too, was included in the film.

Anyway, if you don't mind watching a movie interspersed with many musical production segments, then I definitely recommend this one. As far as older Best Picture winning movies go, I would have to say that this is one of the better ones. So, go check it out.

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