The Great Ziegfeld

1936 film by Robert Zigler Leonard / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Great Ziegfeld is a 1936 American musical drama film directed by Robert Z. Leonard and produced by Hunt Stromberg. It stars William Powell as the theatrical impresario Florenz "Flo" Ziegfeld Jr., Luise Rainer as Anna Held, and Myrna Loy as Billie Burke.

Quick facts: The Great Ziegfeld, Directed by, Written by, ...
The Great Ziegfeld
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Z. Leonard
Written byWilliam Anthony McGuire
Produced byHunt Stromberg
StarringWilliam Powell
Myrna Loy
Luise Rainer
CinematographyOliver T. Marsh
Edited byWilliam S. Gray
Music byWalter Donaldson
Harold Adamson
Distributed byLoew's Inc.
Release dates
  • March 22, 1936 (1936-03-22) (Los Angeles, premiere)
  • April 8, 1936 (1936-04-08) (US)
Running time
177 minutes[1]
185 minutes (roadshow)
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.183 million[2]
Box office$4,673,000[2]

The film, shot at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Culver City, California in the fall of 1935, is a fictionalized and sanitized tribute to Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. and a cinematic adaptation of Broadway's Ziegfeld Follies, with highly elaborate costumes, dances and sets. Many of the performers of the theatrical Ziegfeld Follies were cast in the film as themselves, including Fanny Brice and Harriet Hoctor, and the real Billie Burke acted as a supervisor for the film. The "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" set alone was reported to have cost US$220,000 (US$4,296,067 in 2021 dollars[3]),[4] featuring a towering rotating volute of 70 ft (21 m) diameter with 175 spiral steps, weighing 100 tons. The music to the film was provided by Walter Donaldson, Irving Berlin, and lyricist Harold Adamson, with choreographed scenes. The extravagant costumes were designed by Adrian, taking some 250 tailors and seamstresses six months to prepare them using 50 pounds (23 kg) of silver sequins and 12 yards (11 m) of white ostrich plumes.[5] Over a thousand people were employed in the production of the film, which required 16 reels of film after the cutting.[citation needed]

One of the biggest successes in film in the 1930s and the pride of MGM at the time, it was acclaimed as the greatest musical biography to be made in Hollywood and still remains a standard in musical film making. It won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture for producer Hunt Stromberg, Best Actress for Luise Rainer, and Best Dance Direction for Seymour Felix, and was nominated for four others.

MGM made two more Ziegfeld films – one titled Ziegfeld Girl (1941), starring James Stewart, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr and Lana Turner, which recycled some footage from The Great Ziegfeld, and in 1946, Ziegfeld Follies by Vincente Minnelli. In 1951, the studio produced a Technicolor remake of Show Boat, which Ziegfeld had presented as a stage musical.