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Film Review: Ziegfeld Girl

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Ziegfeld Girl

MGM, 1941 (BW, 133 minutes, Production No. 1165)

It's the opening night of a new Ziegfeld review and all New York is singing its praises, but behind the scenes there is tragedy. Months before, three pretty girls were hired for the chorus. One was the star-bent daughter of a vaudevillian, the second a shop girl, and the third the lovely wife of an out-of-work musician. All three had special reasons for wanting a role and all three have different destinies - one as a star, one as the wife of a great concert violinist, and one to die in poverty and sickness. Just as Florenz Ziegfeld's shows epitomized American showbusiness, so his performers were a true cross-section of the American human comedy.

[MGM press sheet]
See DVD Review

Crew

Produced by: Pandro S. Berman
Directed by: Robert Z. Leonard
Screen Play by: Marguerite Roberts and Sonya Levien
Original Story by: William Anthony McGuire
Musical Numbers Directed by: Busby Berkeley
Musical Score: Herbert Stothart
Musical Direction: Georgie Stoll
"You Stepped Out of a Dream" (by) Nacio Herb Brown, Gus Kahn; "Minnie from Trinidad" (by) Roger Edens with The Kids from Seville [Antonio and Rosario]; "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" (by) Harry Carroll, Joseph McCarthy; "Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean" (by) Edward Gallagher, Al Shean
Vocals and Orchestrations: Leo Arnaud, George Bassman, Conrad Salinger
Art Director: Cedric Gibbons
Associate: Daniel B. Cathcart
Set Decorations: Edwin B. Willis
Musical Presentation: Merrill Pye
Gowns and Costumes by: Adrian
Make-Up Created by: Jack Dawn
Recording Director: Douglas Shearer
Director of Photography: Ray June
Film Editor: Blanche Sewell

Filmed: September 1940 - March 1941 (Judy was 18 years old)
Released: April 1941

Cast

James Stewart ... Gilbert Young
Judy Garland ... Susan Gallagher
Hedy Lamarr ... Sandra Kolter
Lana Turner ... Sheila Regan
Tony Martin ... Frank Merron
Jackie Cooper ... Jerry Regan
Ian Hunter ... Geoffrey Collis
Charles Winninger ... "Pop" Gallagher
Edward Everett Horton ... Noble Sage
Philip Dorn ... Franz Kolter
Paul Kelly ... John Slayton
Eve Arden ... Patsy Dixon
Dan Dailey, Jr. ... Jimmy Walters
Al Shean ... Al
Fay Holden ... Mrs. Regan
Felix Bressart ... Mischa
Rose Hobart ... Mrs. Merron
Bernard Nedell ... Nick Capalini
Ed McNamara ... Mr. Regan
Mae Busch ... Jenny
Renie Riano ... Annie
Josephine Whittell ... Perkins
Sergio Orta ... Native Dancer
Six Hits and a Miss ... vocals
Rosario and Antonio ... Specialty Dancers
Fred Santley ... Floorwalker
Claire James ... Hopeful
Reed Hadley ... Geoffrey's Friend
Armand Kaliz ... Pierre
Joan Barclay ... Actress in Slayton's Office
Donald Kirke ... Playboy
Ray Teal ... Pawnbroker
Al Hill ... Truck Driver
Roscoe Ates ... Theater Worker
George Lloyd ... Bartender
Ginger Pearson ... Salesgirl
Elliott Sullivan, James Flavin ... Truckers
Joyce Compton ... Miss Sawyer
Ruth Tobey ... Beth Regan
Bess Flowers ... Casino Patron
Jean Wallace, Myrna Dell, Georgia Carroll, Louise La Planche, Virginia Cruzon, Alaine Brandeis, Patricia Dane, Irma Wilson, Leslie Brooks, Madeleine Martin, Vivian Mason, Harriet Bennett, Nina Bissell, Frances Gladwin, Anya Taranda ... Ziegfeld Girls

Musical Program

[0:00] Overture (played by Orchestra behind titles, includes short vocal of "You Never Looked So Beautiful" sung by Chorus)
[0:09] Laugh? I Thought I'd Split My Sides (sung and danced by Judy Garland and Charles Winninger)
[0:22] You Stepped out of a Dream (sung by Tony Martin)
[0:36] Whispering (sung by Bill Days, John Rarig and Max Smith; danced by Nightclub Patrons)
[0:40] I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (sung by Judy Garland)
[0:53] I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (sung by Judy Garland)
[1:29] Caribbean Love Song (sung by Tony Martin)
[1:34] Minnie from Trinidad (sung by Chorus, danced by Antonio and Rosario then sung and danced by Judy Garland and Ensemble)
[2:00] Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean (performed by Charles Winninger, Al Shean)
[2:04] Ziegfeld Girls (sung by Judy Garland and Chorus)
[2:06] You Gotta Pull Strings (sung by Judy Garland and Chorus)
[2:08] You Stepped Out of a Dream (reprised by Tony Martin)
[2:10] You Never Looked So Beautiful Before (sung by Judy Garland and Chorus)
[cut] We Must Have Music (sung by Judy Garland, Tony Martin, Six Hits and a Miss and the MGM Studio Chorus)

See soundtrack CD review

Notes

After completing her work on Little Nellie Kelly, Judy went directly into rehearsals for Ziegfeld Girl, which had originally been announced as a 1938 vehicle for Eleanor Powell, Joan Crawford, Margaret Sullavan and Virginia Bruce. Now the leading women's roles were assigned instead to Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr and Eve Arden. James Stewart played opposite Lana Turner. This is a rare opportunity to see Judy in a film with other major stars - this film was not a Judy Garland vehicle as most of her films were.

Judy's principal ballad is a heartfelt "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows", but the film is highlighted by three lavish production numbers. Tony Martin sings "You Stepped Out of a Dream" to accompany the girls' debut; a lengthy montage of West Indian music and motifs leads to Judy's first specialty, "Minnie from Trinidad;" and a colossal seven-minute finale, "We Must Have Music," features Judy and Tony Martin and includes brief reprises of "You Stepped out of a Dream" and "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows".

"We Must Have Music" was dropped from the finished film and hastily replaced in March 1941 by an entirely different finale; footage and songs from the 1936 The Great Ziegfeld were intercut with a new Garland/Edens number, "Ziegfeld Girl." Footage from the "We Must Have Music" number can be seen in the MGM short by the same name.

Judy again made the top-ten list of biggest box office stars for 1941.

A clip of Judy's number in the short subject "We Must Have Music", cut from original finale of Ziegfeld Girl, is included on the laserdisk set: "Judy Garland/The Golden Years at M-G-M" (MGM/UA ML104869).

The closest thing there is to a soundtrack on CD is Chansons Cinema Volume 2 (CIN014). Some of Judy's numbers are also included on the wonderful Collector's Gems CD (Rhino R2 72543).

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

"Although their tribulations are never worth the length that producer Pandro Berman devotes to them, Miss Garland warbles a torrid tropical tune, "Minnie from Trinidad", with true professional gusto."

- Time, May 5, 1941

"Judy Garland, as the show wise youngster, carries the sympathetic end most capably and delivers her vocal assignments in great style"

- Variety, April 16, 1941

"Of the three aspirants to stardom ... only [Judy] made it, which gave the film a conviction it lacked elsewhere."

- film historian David Shipman

"Judy Garland is especially good as a youngster who becomes a star under a strict code of showmanship."

- Howard Barnes, The New York Herald Tribune

"... Judy Garland sings and dances her way enthusiastically from tank-town vaudeville to the New Amsterdam Theatre and Charles Winninger, as her father, turns out to be the Gallagher of the famous Gallagher and Shean team, while Shean is played with nostalgic gusto by Al Shean himself..."

- Newsweek

Memorable Lines

Pop: "You're no ordinary girl. Do you know why?"
Susan: "Yes, Pop, I do. It's cuz you're no ordinary father."

Gallagher: "Oh, Mr. Shean. Oh, Mr. Shean. For de Milo's Venus I'm not very keen."
Shean: "Why not?"
Gallagher: "For the thing that spoils her charms is her pair of broken arms."
Shean: "I didn't see them, Mr. Gallagher."
Gallagher: "Where were you looking, Mr. Shean?"

Supplemental Material

Supplement 1: Publicity photos
Supplement 2: Assorted photos
Supplement 3: Paper dolls

See DVD Review


Ziegfeld Girl DVD
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See DVD Review


Judy Garland Signature Collection DVD Box Set
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Ziegfeld Girl VHS
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Ziegfeld Girl Import Soundtrack CD
Buy Import Soundtrack CD



Ziegfeld Girl poster art
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MGM Publicity still: Judy Garland and Lana Turner



Original MGM publicity still: Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, Lana Turner



Judy Garland and Charles Winninger



Judy Garland publicity photo



Lana Turner, Hedy Lamar, Judy Garland

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