The Great Ziegfeld


D: Robert Z. Leonard

MGM / Leow’s Inc. (Hunt Stromberg)

US 🇺🇸 1936

178 mins


W: William Anthony McGuire

DP: Oliver T. Marsh

Ed: William S. Gray

Mus: Walter Donaldson; Harold Adamson

William Powell (Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr.), Myrna Loy (Billie Burke), Luise Rainer (Anna Held), Frank Morgan (Jack Billings), Virginia Bruce (Audrey Dane), Fanny Brice (herself)

This 1936 Best Picture Oscar winner charts the successful rise of Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. from his humble beginnings as a struggling carnival showman to the theatre impresario he would later become as a result of his Ziegfeld Follies productions, amongst other things.

The film is very much a product of its time with its extravagant musical numbers making up the bulk of the mammoth 178 minute running time.

William Powell plays the eponymous character with his usual suave gentleman act, but the best performance of the movie belongs to Luise Rainer as love interest and ingenue, Anna Held.

Dramatically, the first hour is fine, but everything that follows is a fine portal that looks incredibly dated when looking back on it from modern day eyes.

A fine piece of filmmaking for its time, but there were much better and far more of iconic films released in 1936 that were unjustly passed over when it came to Oscar night.  For most people, this biopic will only be worth watching for curiosity only.


The Great Ziegfeld
The Great Ziegfeld