Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

ZIEGFELD FOLLIES

Kelly, Astaire and Garland
ZIEGFELD FOLLIES (1945). Director: Vincente Minellli.

9 years after he starred as The Great Ziegfeld, William Powell reprised his role of Flo Ziegfeld -- sort of. In the opening moments of Ziegfeld Follies, the great impresario is seen in Hollywood's idea of heaven pontificating on the Follies, and wondering what they would look like if the Follies still existed today. Voila! First puppetoons are used to depict the original Follies; then suddenly there's a stage and we see a series of acts with contemporary stars such as Lena Horne, Lucille Ball, Kathryn Grayson, Virginia O\Brian, and many others. After about half an hour the movie is almost stopped dead by a long and mostly unfunny skit with Keenan Wynn trying to make a phone call. A later sketch with Victor Moore as a man arrested for expectorating on the subway and Edward Arnold as his lawyer is much better, as is another sketch with Fanny Brice (who was actually in the original Follies) and Hume Cronyn as a couple who have a winning sweepstakes ticket and William Frawley as their landlord. A bit with Red Skelton playing a TV announcer who gets drunk reminds one of the later "Vitavegamin" routine on I Love Lucy. James Melton and Marion Bell sing a duet from La traviata, but are not that impressive. Fred Astaire [Royal Wedding] does two dance numbers with Lucille Bremer [Till the Clouds Roll By], but the highlight of the picture is his dance with Gene Kelly -- the only time the two danced together in the movies. The other highlight is Judy Garland playing an affected star in a production number with several handsome male dancers. Garland also appeared in Ziegfeld Girl.

Verdict: Although this has no story, it still manages to be entertaining. ***.

4 comments:

angelman66 said...

Hi Bill, this one is indeed a lot of fun, except for that long sketch with Keenan Wynn, as you note. So wonderful to see Kelly and Astaire do "The Babbit and the Bromide" and to see a glamorous kitten with a whip Lucille Ball tame all those fierce female cats! Best of all for me is Judy G., camping archly as the aptly-named Madame Crematon, surrounded by fawning gay chorus boys...she even out-Bankeaded Bankhead there...
Need to see this one soon again, in all its lush Technicolor glory!
-Chris

William said...

Yes, I should have made more of a comment on Lucille Ball in her pre-Lucy number. Who knew she wasn't far away from becoming an icon? I don't care if all the chorus boys were gay, Judy probably slept with half of them LOL!

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