Ziegfeld Follies (1946)

Genres - Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Comedy, Musical Fantasy  |   Release Date - Aug 13, 1945 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Revues are a tricky thing o pull off on film (which is why most producers try to hedge their bets but tacking a plot onto a filmed revue, thereby making it satisfying neither as revue nor as a scripted show), but Ziegfeld Follies manages it beautifully. That's not to say it is by any means perfect, for there are definitely some "lows" mixed in with the "highs." But that's the nature of the revue format. It's also true that what one person considers a "low" may very likely be a "high" for another, and vice versa. But it's pretty safe to say that among Ziegfeld's definite highs are the sensational "Limehouse Blues," in which Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer dance a tragic little tale amid some of the most sensational purples, blues and greens the screen has ever seen; "The Great Lady Give san Interview," in which Judy Garland is given the opportunity to demonstrate her flair for satirical comedy; Red Skelton's comedic gin routine (in some ways a forerunner of Lucille Ball's legendary "Viteameatavegemin" routine); and Lena Horne, shockingly beautiful, singing a sizzling "Love." If "The Babbitt and the Bromide" is not one of the highs, it's because too much is expected of it as the only (real) onscreen pairing of Astaire and Gene Kelly; it's quite entertaining, but one wants more fireworks from this once-in-a-lifetime event. Low points include an anemic comedy skit with Keenan Wynn and an excerpt from "Traviata" that is very well sung but feels out of place. And occupying a position all its own is the "Meet the Ladies" number -- that position secured by the surreal and curious image of a stunning Ball snapping a whip at cat-clad ladies of the chorus. Ziegfeld is lavisha nd filled with eye candy of all sorts; if it's closer in spirit to a tribute to MGM than to the legendary showman, it's still darn good entertainment.