Derek Winnert


This article was written on 15 Mar 2017, and is filled under Reviews.

Ziegfeld Follies **** (1945, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, William Powell, Jimmy Durante, Gene Kelly) – Classic Movie Review 5160

MGM’s exhilarating, eye-smackingly gaudy 1945 Technicolor film imitation of one of US producer Florenz Ziegfeld’s stage revues is a bright, spangly, brilliantly pretty curate’s egg of a movie. Alas it is weighed down with cobwebby comedy, but to compensate there are wonderfully campy numbers, outrageously lavish décor and dazzling artistry from Fred Astaire and Judy Garland as The Star (‘A Great Lady Has an Interview’).

It is introduced by William Powell, star of The Great Ziegfeld (1936), again playing the now late, great impresario Ziegfeld, who has gone to Heaven, where he is still planning another show!

It is MGM’s third Ziegfeld film after The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and Ziegfeld Girl (1941).

In a camp quintessence of kitsch, a whip-wielding Lucille Ball tames chorus girls dressed as panthers, Esther Williams wiggles through coral reefs, and Kathryn Grayson sings ‘There’s Beauty Everywhere’ amid girls in the clouds (though Grayson’s final B-flat had to be re-dubbed). It is quite breathtaking!

Astaire performs three numbers, including his only ever duet with Gene Kelly (‘The Babbitt and the Bromide’) until their old age introducing That’s Entertainment Part II in 1975. The comic ditty ‘The Babbitt and the Bromide’, was written by George and Ira Gershwin, and originally performed in the 1927 Broadway musical Funny Face by Fred Astaire and his sister Adele.

Astaire plays Astaire (‘Here’s to the Ladies’), Raffles (‘This Heart of Mine’), Tai Long (‘Limehouse Blues’) and Gentleman (‘The Babbit and the Bromide’). Bremer plays Princess (‘This Heart of Mine’) and Moy Ling in ‘Limehouse Blues’) in the numbers with Astaire and they re-united for Yolanda and the Thief (1945).

The main cast are James Stewart, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, Lana Turner, Tony Martin, Jackie Cooper, Ian Hunter, Charles Winninger, Eve Arden Philip Dorn, Dan Dailey, Edward Everett Horton, Paul Kelly, Al Shean, Fay Holden, Felix Bressart, Rose Hobart, Bernard Nedell, Mae Busch, Ed McNamara, Joyce Compton, Ruth Tobey and Bess Flowers.

© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 5160

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