William Powell is easy to love as the great Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. This generous man, who makes and loses fortunes in the entertainment industry, spends money on the people around him. He makes friends easily and knows how to put a luxurious show together.
Ziegfeld’s competition with Billings begins when they work as sideshow barkers and continues throughout their lives. When Ziegfeld produces extravagant stage shows, he has the eye of the public, but can’t seem to hold onto their money.
The love story is woven into the film, showing Ziegfeld as a poor producer with a heart of gold and a spending problem. Both of his wives were loved, but disappointed he couldn’t rise above his weaknesses.
This film won a Best Picture Oscar, the first biopic to do so. Other Academy Awards included Luise Rainer’s Best Actress win and Seymour Felix’s Best Dance Direction win. Academy Award nominations included Best Writing of an Original Story, Best Film Editing, Best Director, and Best Art Direction.
I enjoyed the scenes where Ziegfeld and Billings competed with each other. Billings was played by the great and powerful Frank Morgan, who played the great and powerful Oz in 1939. Speaking of Oz, Billie Burke, who played Glinda the good whose transportation was a bubble, was one of Ziegfeld’s wives. Myrna Loy played Billie Burke in The Great Ziegfeld, and even received a visit from the real Billie Burke while filming the story about her husband. This is one of the fourteen films Loy and William Powell were in together.
The actor who played the all-brawn, no-brain, strongman was Eugen Sandow, also known as the Father of Bodybuilding. He used both his brain and his brawn to build quite a career.