Ziegfeld Follies (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lemuel Ayers
Roy Del Ruth
|Produced by||Arthur Freed|
|Release date(s)||August 13, 1945(world premiere, Boston)|
|Running time||110 minutes|
|Box office||$4 million (US/ Canada rentals)|
Ziegfeld Follies (MGM) is a 1946 Hollywood musical comedy film directed by Lemuel Ayers, Roy Del Ruth, Robert Lewis, Vincente Minnelli, Merrill Pye, George Sidney and Charles Walters. It stars many of MGM leading talents, including Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Lucille Bremer, Fanny Brice (the only member of the ensemble that was a star of the original Follies), Judy Garland, Kathryn Grayson, Lena Horne, Gene Kelly, James Melton, Victor Moore, William Powell, Red Skelton, and Esther Williams.
Producer Arthur Freed wanted to create a film along the lines of the Ziegfeld Follies Broadway shows and so the film is composed of a sequence of unrelated lavish musical numbers and comedy sketches. Filmed in 1944, '45 and '46, it was released in 1946, to considerable critical and box-office success.
Key songs/dance routines
- Here's To The Girls/Bring On The Wonderful Men: by Roger Edens and Arthur Freed. Sung by Astaire with a short solo dance by Cyd Charisse, followed by Lucille Ball cracking a whip over eight chorus-girl panthers, and finally Virginia O'Brien spoofs the previous scene by singing "Bring on those Wonderful Men"
- This Heart of Mine: Classic standard by Harry Warren and Arthur Freed and written specially for Astaire who sings it to Bremer and then leads her in an extravagantly romantic dance of seduction and power-play. The choreography integrates rotating floors, concealed treadmills and swirling dance motifs.
- Love: Another standard, this time by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, sung by Lena Horne
- Limehouse Blues: Conceived as a "dramatic pantomime" with Astaire as a proud but poverty-stricken Chinese labourer whose infatuation with the unattainable Bremer leads to tragedy. The story serves as bookends for a dream ballet inspired by Chinese dance motifs in a vast and extravagant, albeit racially-stereotyped, setting.
- The Great Lady Has An Interview: Written by Kay Thompson originally for Greer Garson (she turned it down). Judy Garland spoofs a movie star who can only be cast in Oscar winning dramas, but wants to play "sexy" roles (a la Greer Garson, or Katharine Hepburn) giving an interview to dancing reporters about "her next picture": a bio-pic of Madame Cremantante (the "inventor of the safety pin"). Originally to be directed by Garland's friend Charles Walters, Vincente Minnelli ended up directing the sequence (the two were dating at the time), and Walters was reassigned as choreographer.
- The Babbitt And The Bromide: Astaire and Kelly team up in a comedy song and dance challenge in three sections, to music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin. All choreography was by Astaire (third section) and Kelly (sections one and two). This was the only time Astaire and Kelly appeared on screen together in their prime. In spite of efforts by Freed and Minnelli, the two would not partner again on film until That's Entertainment, Part II in 1976.
- There's Beauty Everywhere: Originally filmed as a balletic finale with tenor James Melton singing and Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, and Lucille Bremer dancing in a melange of soap bubbles. But when the bubble machine malfunctioned (leaving only a fragment of the number filmed) and the formula flowed into the hallways of the soundstage, the number had to be restaged. Kathryn Grayson replaced Melton and Astaire and Bremer were cut out altogether. Segments of the "bubble dance" with Charisse remain in the final film.
The New York Times ; "The film's best numbers [-] are a couple of comedy skits, especially one done by Red Skelton. Fanny Brice plays a Bronx hausfrau quite [-] funnily. Judy Garland is also amusing as a movie queen giving an interview. Ziegfeld Follies is entertaining - and that's what it's meant to be!" (Bosley Crowther).
Newsweek ; "At least three of the numbers would highlight any review on stage and screen. In A Great Lady has an Interview, Judy Garland, with six leading men, displays an unexpected flair for occupational satire. With Numbers Please Keenan Wynn demonstrates, once again, that he is one of Hollywood's foremost comedians. But the dance act for the archives is The Babbitt and the Bromide [-] Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly trade taps and double-takes to a photo finish. " 
- HOLLYWOOD 'TAKES': METRO PLANS BI-ANNUAL MOVIE EDITIONS OF 'ZIEGFELD FOLLIES' -- OTHER NOTES By FRED STANLEYHOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 09 Jan 1944: X3.
- "All-Time Top Grossers", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 69
- The Films of Judy Garland, Joe Morella and Edward Epstein, p. 132
- "Festival de Cannes: Ziegfeld Follies". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- The Films of Judy Garland, Joe Morella and Edward Epstein, p.134
- John Mueller: Astaire Dancing - The Musical Films of Fred Astaire, Knopf 1985, ISBN 0-394-51654-0
- Ziegfeld Follies at the Internet Movie Database
- Ziegfeld Follies at AllRovi
- The Judy Garland Online Discography "Ziegfeld Follies" pages.