Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Great Ziegfeld

In the beginning of January I recorded the movie The Great Ziegfeld (1936) after watching a special on the Turner Classic Movie channel.  The special was about the career of Luise Rainer who turned 101 years on January 12th, 2011.  Luise Rainer won her first Oscar for her beautiful portrayal of Anna Held in The Great Ziegfeld.  Rainer was the first actor/actress to win back-to-back Oscars for her performances in The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937).  They did an interview with Luise before they showed the movie, and although it was hard to understand everything she said you could not mistake the passion she still had for life.  I was so moved at how she smiled when she talk about the love of her life and how her eyes sparkled recalling the beautiful places she has traveled to.  She truly is an amazing woman who has had a fabulous life and career, I couldn’t help but fall in love with her when she ended the interview say “life is beautiful..”  I couldn’t agree with her more.  I finally watched the 3.5 hour movie yesterday and although it was very long it was so magnificently filmed I fell in love with its characters and performances. 

Luise Rainer as Anna Held
Luise Rainer at TCM on her 101st birthday
William Powell who played Florenz Ziegfeld

The Great Ziegfeld starred William Powell as Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld the great theatrical producer.  William Powell did a wonderful job playing the ladies man who charms his way to fame.  Powell reminded me a lot of actor Clark Gable- to me both actors are devastatingly handsome with piercing eyes and a alluring smile no one can resist.  In the movie Ziegfeld travels to Europe to find a female talent to bring to New York and make into a star!  He runs into his friend and rival Jack Billings played by Frank Morgan, who is on his way to France to sign a contract with the beautiful French performer Anna Held.  Ziegfeld is able to convince Billings to lend him some money and then follows Billings to the show where he first sees Anna Held (Luise Rainer) perform.  Though Ziegfeld is broke he uses the money he borrowed from Billings and sends Anna a magnificent bouquet of flowers after her show with a note that it is in the best interest of her career she meet with him before signing any contract.  The first scene when Anna and Ziegfeld meet in her dressing room was one of my favorites in the film.  Anna who tries to act tough quickly falls for the charismatic Ziegfeld and goes with him to New York. 

Ziegfeld marries Anna and makes her and her show a huge hit.  Ziegfeld who wants more begins to create an entirely new kind of show that will “glorify” the American woman.  This begins the Ziegfeld Follies a series of elaborate theatrical productions and from this point on the movie became one big Broadway show with larger-than-life performances and the most incredible and alluring costumes I have ever seen.  The premiere of Ziegelfd Follies is a incredible scene with a large spiral staircase onstage and as the staircase turns it displays different scenes with tons of beautiful woman and costumes. 

The Ziegfeld Follies shows were made up of many beautiful chorus girls commonly known as Ziegfeld girls, usually decked in elaborate costumes by designers who became the talk of Broadway the following day.  The extraordinary costumes the girls wore in the movies inspired me – they were more than dresses but creations of beauty that the woman became apart of.  The woman and the clothing become one.  I truly suggest watching this movies it was so beautiful and although long very inspirational!

Ziegfeld Follies from the movie...

Images of the real Ziegfield Follies...

The Great Ziegfeld was nominated for 7 Oscars in 1936
Best Picture - Won
Best Actress in a Leading Role– Luise Rainer - Won
Best Dance DirectionSeymour DFelix – Won
Best Art Direction – Nominated
Best Director – Robert Z. Leonard – Nominated
Best Film Editing - William S. Gray – Nominated
Best Writing, Original Story – William Anthony McGuire - Nominated

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I'm wondering if you can answer a couple of questions I have re: you Ziegfeld post! LOVE it!