An elevator operator, a wife of a struggling concert violinist, a born-in-a-trunk vaudevillian: they're three different women on three different paths of life, yet they soon share one dream: to become a Ziegfeld Girl. L... more »ana Turner, Hedy Lamarr and Judy Garland play the respective three trying for stardom in this sumptuous extravaganza. James Stewart adds to the star wattage, playing the jilted truck-driving beau of Turner's footlight diva. And legendary innovator Busby Berkeley brings his imaginative camerawork and pacing to numbers that include Garland's massively scaled and calypso-infused Minnie from Trinidad, plus a lavish, showgirl-revue finale that reprises the rhapsodic You Stepped Out of a Dream. Sweet dreams, movie fans.« less
"When MGM produced this lavish musical in 1940-41, most of the world was at war and the U.S. was on the verge of joining it. Austerity was already being called for in the U.S.A., and Hollywood was doing its part. The studios at that time were closely allied with the federal government which saw movies as a tool for democracy rather than the way Hollywood is treated by government today.
That austerity measure is the primary reason this great musical feast was produced in the less-expensive, always-acceptable (and, at the time, "the norm") black-and-white rather than as a fantastic Technicolor feast. Musicals did not YET rule the lot of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer although they would, soon enough, keep that studio in the black.
Nevertheless, this movie is one of the most beautiful black-and-white musicals ever produced. As Leonard Maltin has said in his TV book of movie reviews, the MGM glitter has never shined more brightly.
Among the most notable things about this film is that it was a turning point in the career of Judy Garland. Here, for the first time, Judy goes from being a young girl living at home with her father to becoming an independent young woman who becomes a star of the Ziegfeld follies. From child to grownup in one movie. And that turning point hinged on the improbably set-up presentation of her singing audition in which her pop had her ham up "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" and, in a second chance, using her own gut instincts to sing the song better than anyone had sung it before...and better than anyone has sung it since.
Lana Turner was not yet a major MGM star, but she became one with this film in which she was given the full glamour treatment. She has a very meaty part as a beauty who gets her shot in the Ziegfeld follies. She has Jimmy Stewart (who was a star in his own right) as a ne'er-do-well boyfriend who she drops when rich men start paying attention to her. Along the way on her path to fame and infamy, she encounters an impossibly young, incredibly handsome Dan Dailey, who portrays a fighter. In the film, he wins a boxing title in a match that Lana sees with one of her rich boyfriends. When Dailey encounters Turner in a night spot, he comes on to her. Sizing her up and letting her know who he is, he tells her, "Ya seen me when I done it." Once she realizes what he means, she agrees she was there, and then gives him the brush-off. Later in the film, when they're both on the skids, he runs into her in a dive. He offers to buy her a drink and reminds her of who he is. He then treats her badly. It's a terrific scene between them, and it's a terrible character for the young Dailey to have played, but it was a standout.
Happily, though, Turner got one of the best scenes any actress has had in a career. And it is, allegedly, a scene that MGM's resident musical genius (the true talent in the Freed Unit) Roger Edens wrote specifically for her while the film was shooting because it was felt her character needed a little something more dramatic. In this scene, the mortally ill Lana goes to the Ziegfeld Theater to see a revue of previous Ziegfeld triumphs. Growing visibly sicker as she watches the show, she gets up to leave. As she reaches the top of the balcony staircase, the theater orchestra starts playing "You Stepped Out of A Dream", which was the big number in her first Ziegfeld hit. Per Edens' instruction, Turner threw back her shoulders, lifted her chin, and began descending the stairs as a Ziegfeld girl would do it on stage. After a few steps, she collapses. It's one HELL of a scene and Turner delivers it in spades.
This film IS a great musical wallow. Tony Martin was a perfect leading man in this film. "You Stepped Out of a Dream" is one of the great "show girl" anthems of all time. His voice was terrific and he wooed the impossibly beautiful Hedy Lamarr onstage and off. Lamarr brought that beauty to her role, if little else, although she portrayed a noble character with honorable intentions.
There are many movies in which the sum of the parts do not necessarily equal a masterful whole, but this is one of those movies in which the sum of the parts DO EQUAL great entertainment that rewards time and again. The music is tuneful/memorable, the sets and costumes are lavish and the Busby Berkeley numbers are imaginative and eye-filling.
If you love musicals, this is for you! "
VINTAGE WARTIME MUSICAL....
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 05/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For sheer 1941 Hollywood glamour and spectacle, "Ziegfeld Girl" is what it's all about. Produced by Pandro S.Berman and with the all out musical numbers staged by Busby Berkeley, it also features the youthful beauty of Judy Garland and Lana Turner with the stunning Hedy Lamarr for extra eye candy. The hackneyed story of three star struck girls chosen as Ziegfeld showgirls and the resulting complications is glossed over by the stars including Jimmy Stewart as Lana's beau and Eve Arden as a been around showgirl watching as the newcomers take over the spotlight. Lana is the one who suffers the most and falls prey to tragedy. The costumes are incredible and the musical numbers very elaborate---especially Judy's tropical "Minnie From Trinidad" and the show stopper "You Stepped Out of a Dream". My only question is why wasn't it in Technicolor instead of b&w? The DVD print shows some wear but overall it's very good. For vintage film and musical buffs (as well as Garland and Turner fans) this is a treasure."
Wonderful Delicious kitsch!
Joel D. Arndt | University Heights, OH USA | 04/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have loved this movie from the first time I saw it in the fall of 1977 on WCBS-TV, Channel 2, from NYC when I was 15. I was allowed to stay up until the wee hours of the morning as long as my studies didn't suffer. Of course, all of this nonsense of loving classic MGM movies started with "That's Entertainment!" three years earlier.
"Ziegfeld Girl" is a wonderful musical soap opera from start to finish. With a stellar cast headed by James Stewart, Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr, Tony Martin, Jackie Cooper, Eve Arden and so many more how could you go wrong? You can't! While this isn't "great" movie-making in the "The Wizard of Oz" or "Citizen Kane" sense it's still a terrific example of a Hollywood, or should I say Culver City, empire at its best. The only exception would be the finale of "Ziegfeld Girl" which encompasses interpolations from "The Great Ziegfeld". The original finale "We Must Have Music" wasn't considered grand enough and this was definitely a cost-cutting measure on Metro's part to look more opulent.
Some of the highlights are the musical numbers directed by Busby Berkeley including "You Stepped Out of a Dream" and "Minnie From Trinidad". Other highlights are Garland's audition sequence featuring "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows", Eve Arden's dry wit and Lana Turner's dramatic turn. She has the most interesting story of the three Ziegfeld Girls. Hedy Lamarr is stunning and Judy Garland was on the cusp of her glamour years at MGM. That would start with her next picture, "Life Begins For Andy Hardy" where she definitely had a new more sophisticated sexy look. She is very glamorous in "Minnie From Trinidad". Adrian's costuming in this movie is spectacular.
The DVD transfer is exceptional. While there are some age-related artifacts, overall the quality is wonderful. This is a HUGE improvement over previous incarnations on VHS and Laserdisc where one could tell every reel change. The sound quality is very nicely balanced and cleaned up which cannot be said of earlier releases.
My recommendation is that you buy this DVD ASAP. If you love classic movies you will enjoy this. It's a lot of fun and Garland, Turner and Lamarr have never looked so beautiful before or at least since 1941."
"The Follies is life..."
ehsmith4 | Sheffield, IA USA | 04/09/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In the first part of the 20th century, no greater name was associated with American musical theater than Florenz Ziegfeld and no greater spectacle than the Ziegfeld Follies, perhaps best remembered for large numbers of beautiful, scantilly-clad young women. "Ziegfeld Girl" takes place at the peak of the Follies' popularity in the 1920's and revolves around the lives of three different women chosen to star in the famous revue:
- Sheila Hale (Lana Turner), an elevator operator for a toney New York department store,
- Susan Gallagher (Judy Garland), the younger half of a father-daughter vaudeville act, and,
- Sondra Kolter (Hedy Lamarr), the wife of a would-be concert violinist.This was MGM at its best when it came to musicals, though "Ziegfeld Girl" is not necessarily one of their better-known ones nor their strongest. As a Judy Garland fan, I must admit my bias toward the "Minnie from Trinidad" sequence as well as when Judy sings the classic "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" in an audition scene. But perhaps the best-known musical number in the entire film is "You Stepped Out of a Dream" with Tony Martin's superb vocals as well as Judy, Hedy & Lana among the scores of young women dressed in the astounding outfits created for this movie by the legendary designer Adrian."Ziegfeld Girl" also features a solid supporting cast including James Stewart as Sheila Hale's truck-driver fiance, Jackie Cooper as Sheila's brother, Charles Winninger as Susan Gallagher's father, Eve Arden as a wise-cracking veteran of the Follies, Paul Kelly as the no-nonsense stage manager, and Edward Everett Horton as the harried publicity director ("Mr. Ziegfeld's strong right arm"). There is also a rare movie appearance by Al Shean of the legendary Gallagher & Shean vaudeville comedy team thrown in for good measure.In short, "Ziegfeld Girl" is a lavish glimpse at a legendary part of American musical theater history that has long since passed."
La Cieca | New York New York New York | 08/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you overlook the dreary Hedy Lamarr plot, there's a lot to savor in this picture:
Garland's singing, of course, which includes an early and very funny bit of self-parody when she belts the "showstopper" version of "I'm Only Chasing Rainbows." Note the look on Garland's face when papa/vaudeville veteran Charles Winninger orders her to "Give it all you've got!" Judy seems about to say, "Well, you asked for it..." My only disappointment is that she is assigned the negligible tune "Minnie from Trinidad" as her 11 o'clock number.
Lana Turner's performance as a gone-to-hell-in-a-handbasket showgirl/boozer. Campiest moment in the film is when JUDY is assigned to keep Lana sober! Lana's final promenade down the stairs (to yet one more reprise of "You Walked Out of a Dream") is worth the price of the DVD -- this is what star quality is all about.
There are also some very funny bits from Edward Everett Horton and Eve Arden -- which made me wonder why La Arden didn't turn up among all the other ladies in THE WOMEN, lensing at Metro about the same time as this pic.
Oh, and one other thing: do you notice that this film has almost the identical plot to VALLEY OF THE DOLLS -- with Lana in the Neely O'Hara part?"