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Film Review: Ziegfeld Follies (of 1946)


Ziegfeld Follies

MGM, 1946 (Color, 109 minutes, Production No. 1325)

In Hollywood where novelty is the spice of life, MGM's Ziegfeld Follies is the most novel of all - it's a musical WITHOUT a story! Flo Ziegfeld, the showman who made an American institution out of beautiful girls and gave the world its most magnificent reviews now has his immortal "follies" brought to the screen as they were originally conceived by him. In addition to the Ziegfeld Girls, America's most glamorous beauties, the show has the greatest constellation of star names ever to reach the screen.

[MGM press sheet]

See DVD Review


Produced by: Arthur Freed
Directed by: Vincente Minnelli
Screenplay: Robert Alton, John Murray Anderson, Lemuel Ayers, Ralph Blane, Guy Bolton, Allen Boretz, Irving Brecher, Eddie Cantor, Erik Charell, Harry Crane, Roger Edens, Joseph Erons, David Freedman, Devery Freeman, Everett Freeman, E.Y. Harburg, Lou Holtz, Cal Howard, Al Lewis, Robert Lewis, Max Liebman, Don Loper, Eugene Loring, Wilkie Mahoney, Hugh Martin, Jack McGowan, William Noble, James O'Hanlon, Samson Raphaelson, Philip Rapp, Bill Schorr, Joseph Schrank, Frank Sullivan, Kay Thompson, Charles Walters and Edgar Allan Woolf
Music Director: Lennie Hayton
Songs by: Harry Warren and Arthur Freed; George and Ira Gershwin; Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin; Kay Thompson and Roger Edens
Musical Adaptation: Roger Edens
Orchestration: Conrad Salinger, Wally Heglin
Vocal Arrangements: Kay Thompson
Dance Direction: Robert Alton
Puppet Sequence: William Ferrari
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Merrill Pye, Jack Martin Smith
Set Decorations: Edwin B. Willis
Associate: Marc Alper
Costume Supervision: Irene
Costumes Designed by:Helen Rose
Make-Up Created by: Jack Dawn
Hair Styles Created by: Sydney Guilaroff
Recording Director: Douglas Shearer
Directors of Photography: George Folsey, Charles Rosher
Photographed in Technicolor
Technicolor Color Director: Natalie Kalmus
Associate: Henri Jaffa
Film Editor: Albert Akst

Filmed: January 1944 - February 1945
("The Interview" filmed in July 1944 - Judy was 22 years old)
Released: April 1946


[0:09] Opening Scene (introduction)
William Powell ... Florenz Ziegfeld
Bunin Puppets ... Themselves

[0:16] Here's to the Girls (musical number)
Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Lucille Ball and Virginia O'Brien

[0:24] A Water Ballet (musical number)
Esther Williams

[0:27] Number Please (comedy skit)
Keenan Wynn

[0:35] Traviata (musical number)
James Melton and Marion Bell

[0:38] Pay the Two Dollars (comedy skit)
Victor Moore ... Himself
Edward Arnold ... Himself
Ray Teal ... Special Officer
Joseph Crehan ... Judge
William B. Davidson ... Presiding Judge
Harry Hayden ... Warden
Eddie Dunn ... Officer
Garry Owen ... Officer

[0:47] This Heart of Mine (musical skit)
Fred Astaire ... The Imposter
Lucille Bremer ... The Princess
Count Stefenelli ... The Duke
Naomi Childers ... The Duchess
Helen Boice ... The Countess
Robert Wayne ... Retired Dyspeptic
Charles Coleman ... The Major
Feodor Chaliapin ... The Lieutenant
Sam Flint ... The Flunky
Shirlee Howard, Natalie Draper, Katherine Booth, Lucille Casey, Eve Whitney, Elaine Shepard, Frances Donelan, Aileen Haley, Aina Constant, Helen O'Hara ... The Girls

[0:59] A Sweepstakes Ticket (comedy skit)
Fanny Brice ... Norma
Hume Cronyn ... Monty
William Frawley ... Martin
Arthur Walsh ... Telegraph Boy

[1:09] Love (musical number)
Lena Horne

[1:13] When Television Comes (comedy skit)
Red Skelton

[1:19] Limehouse Blues (musical number)
Fred Astaire ... Tai Long
Lucille Bremer ... Moy Ling
Robert Lewis ... Chinese Gentleman
Eugene Loring ... Costermonger
Harriet Lee ... Singer in Dive
Cyd Charisse ... Chicken
Dante Dipaolo, Robert Chetwood, Jack Purcell, Herb Luri, Walter Stane, Edward Brown, Milton Chisholm, Jack Regas, Bert May, Richard D'Archy, Alex Romero, Don Hulbert, Ricky Ricardi, Robert Trout, Bill Hawley, Rita Dunn, Charlotte Hunter, Patricia Lynn, Ruth Merman, Melba Snowden, Patricia Jackson, Marilyn Christine, Wanda Stevenson, Judi Blacque, Virginia Hunter, Sean Francis, Dorothy Gilmore, Doreen Hayward ... Ensemble

[1:33] A Great Lady Has "An Interview" (musical comedy skit)
Judy Garland ... The Star
Rex Evans ... The Butler
Judy's Boyfriends

[1:43] The Babbitt and the Bromide (musical number)
Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly

[1:50] Beauty (musical number)
Kathryn Grayson and The Ziegfeld Girls

Musical Program

[0:00] Overture (played by Orchestra before film)
[0:02] Main Title (played by Orchestra behind titles)
[0:16] Here's to the Girls (sung by Fred Astaire and Chrous, danced by Cyd Charisse, Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Chorus Girls)
[0:21] Bring on Those Wonderful Men (Virginia O'Brien)
[0:24] Water Ballet (instrumental, swum by Esther Williams)
[0:35] Libiamo, Libiamo (from La Traviata, by Verdi, sung and danced by James Melton, Marion Bell and Chorus)
[0:47] This Heart of Mine (sung by Fred Astaire and Chorus, danced by Fred Astaire, Lucille Bremer and Chorus)
[1:09] Love (sung by Lena Horne, danced by Lena Horne and Chorus)
[1:19] Limehouse Blues (sung by unidentified female soloist, instrumental ballet portion danced by Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer. Includes interlude of "The Old Kent Road" by unidentified sextet.)
[1:33] The Interview (aka "Madame Crematante," sung and danced by Judy Garland and Men's Chorus)
[1:43] The Babbitt and the Bromide (sung and danced by Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly)
[1:50] There's Beauty Everywhere (sung by Kathryn Grayson, danced by the Ziegfeld Girls)
[cut] If Swing Goes, I Go Too (sung by Fred Astaire)
[cut] There's Beauty Everywhere (James Melton and the MGM Studio Chorus)
[cut] We Will Meet Again in Honolulu (James Melton)
[cut] Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away) (sung by Avon Long and the MGM Studio Chorus)

see soundtrack CD review


Production began in January 1944, and the 273-minute film was previewed at the Westwood Village Theater on November 1, 1944. Reaction was very mixed, so the film was withdrawn for major editing and retakes. The picture was finally released on April 8, 1946 at a cost of over three million dollars.

Critical reviews were mixed, but the crowd-pleasers were Esther Williams' ballet, Skelton's drunk routine, Garland's send-up of the big star, and the unique "Limehouse Blues" number.

Judy's number "The Interview" was originally intended for Greer Garson. Garson declined to do the number, and it ended up becoming a spoof of her. It has since become a classic favorite of Garland fans.

See Judy Garland Movies on Video for information about the latest releases of home video and sountrack.

See Class Act for more information on this and other classic films.

Critical Response

"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, The New York Times, 1946

"... At least three of the numbers would highlight any review on stage or screen. In 'A Great Lady Has an Interview,' Judy Garland, with six leading men, displays an unexpected flair for occupational satire."

- Newsweek, April 1, 1946

Memorable Lines

(all spoken by Judy in "The Interview")

"Gentlemen, you have caught me pitifully unprepared."

"...or should I do what I'd adore so, do my acting with my torso, and give all the natives a start?"

"I'd like to be a pinup girl, a cheesecake girl, too. And what is Ginger Rogers that I am not? And what has Betty Grable got that I haven't got?"

"Madame Crematante, gentlemen, will be a monumental, biographical tribute to a monumental, biographical woman..."

"...Whoop-dee-doodee, Madame Crematante did! For on a cold and frosty morn, the safety pin was born!"

Ziegfeld Follies DVD

See DVD Review

Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory Vol. 1 DVD Box Set
Buy DVD Box Set

Ziegfeld Follies VHS

Soundtrack available on CD
Buy Soundtrack CD

(Judy's number is trimmed)

Ziegfeld Follies Posters
Buy Posters

Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer in "Limehouse Blues"

Original magazine ad

Publicity photo: Judy Garland in costume for "Madame Crematante"

Must the roles I play be tragic...

I would like to be a pin-up girl, too

Judy Garland in "The Interview"

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