The Great Ziegfeld manages to combine an interesting story with spectacular production numbers, something that MGM musicals of the early sound era achieved on only an occasional basis. William Powell is fine as Florenz Ziegfeld, but it is Best Actress Oscar winner Louise Rainer who shines as Anna Held. Among the film's several pleasures are seeing real-life performers from the Ziegfeld era playing themselves, particularly Fanny Brice, later immortalized by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl. Despite its 176-minute running time, The Great Ziegfeld maintains interest between its superb musical production numbers. At a time when the studio system dominated the film industry, MGM was all too happy to prove over and over again that it led the pack when it came to class projects.
by Richard Gilliam review