John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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Oh no! A musical winning Best Picture yet again but it's not just a musical it also gives them the opportunity to indulge their love of the biopic. This was a huge hit at the time but it has aged poorly as it's 2 hours and 57 minutes long, features forgettable songs and overacting. I struggled to get through this film even as, much like An American in Paris (1951), I marveled at one sequence in the film that is technically stunning. You have to take most winners from this time period with a grain of salt, other than the perfect It Happened One Night (1934), but this was one of the hardest films to swallow as it doddered along for large periods of time and didn't have the appeal of musicals like The Sound of Music (1965) and Gigi (1958).
Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., William Powell, establishes a business based on showmanship and pretty women in the early 20th century as he mixes business and pleasure by marrying performer Anna Held, Luise Rainer. "The Ziegfeld Follies" are organized by the increasingly ambitious businessman as his romantic attentions shift from Anna to the troubled Audrey Dunne, Virginia Bruce, as the shows are a resounding success. As times and tastes change the public grow disinterested in the Follies and want something grander and more exciting. He makes a comeback and marries the future Glinda the Good Witch, Billie Burke, Myrna Loy, who is supportive and loving but the 1929 stock market crash looms.
The sequence in the film that is worth watching is the ‘wedding cake' scene in which hundreds of dancers assemble in elaborate costumes to frolic around on an expensive set. I could just sit back and marvel at the sight of incredible costumes, from giant feathery wings to a glittery ball gown, and beautiful women lounging around on top of a constructed cake. This was a spectacle on the level of the final eighteen minute dance at the end of An American in Paris. This sight would have been unbelievable to audiences at the time who were still going to the theatre regularly and didn't just pop down to the cinema now and then, it deserves to be commended because it was impressive then but still manages to amaze today's audiences.
Beyond the costumes, the looks of the stars and that small sliver of the film's running time this film isn't worth watching because it doesn't appear to know what it is. It flirts with being The Greatest Showman (2017), an awful movie, for 1936 audiences but this storyline stops for long periods of time to allow for songs and scenes of women looking beautiful. It never fully commits to being a musical either as we spend so much time with people just talking and Rainer tearfully lamenting her situation. I needed something to grab onto so that I could see the film attempt completing some sort of arc or committing to a certain tone but no, the film is completely uninterested in consistency.
This film won Luise Rainer her first Best Actress Academy Award, even though she's most definitely playing a supporting part, of two as she would become the first actor or actress to win an Academy Award for acting back to back. I wouldn't say she earned it as she mostly just screws up her faces and cries and babbles like a baby but clearly the voters appreciated this style of performing at the time. I might check out Norma Shearer in Romeo and Juliet (1936) just for interest's sake because I understand that she was in her thirties playing a teenager.
I can't evaluate the 1936 Best Picture race because I haven't seen most of the nominated films but I have watched Dodsworth (1936) which features a great Walter Huston performance and is an accurate portrayal of a marriage crumbling. This is not one of the 1930s Best Picture winners that I would recommend people watch but of those I have seen I would say that Cavalcade (1933), It Happened One Night (1934) and Gone with the Wind (1939) are worthy of their iconic status and can be appreciated by a highly discerning modern viewer.
Without question, the best Hollywood musical ever brought to fruition. Yes, it is too long and needs editing. Like the Godfather, it needs three parts. But this is the first years of the talkies, give them a break. Nothing so wonderful could be conceived today, and look at all that was saved for posterity. This is the first movie deserving six stars on a five star system. People should view this in three parts and judge it on its incredible opulence, while at the same time still giving us an interesting and compelling plot (unlike today's attempts at musical comedies). This one has it all -- except for slick production value that comes first in today's world. How could you give all this any less than five stars? So much delight, so much talent.
The best musical movie ever made! With the best movie song ever sung: A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody!
***OVERTIRING (179 MINS) YET WORTH A PEEK AT THE FINEST THINGS EVER DONE ON STAGE***
As this film clocks in at three full hours, one reviewer likened it to a "huge, lumbering, Paleozoic beast with a heart", and it's a great analogy. It's a chronicle of the career of showman and theater producer Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr, and the highlights are the musical numbers and showy costumes by Adrian in the middle third of the movie which are truly over-the-top. They're also apparently true to the extravagance of his Ziegfeld Follies, which ran on Broadway from 1907 to 1931. The number ""A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" is particularly stunning, with the camera going up a lavish, revolving spiral staircase adorned with beautiful men and women, dancers, and performances of classical music along the way. Google it and be suitably impressed for eight minutes. I also liked seeing the tap dance routine from Ray Bolger (the scarecrow from 'The Wizard of Oz'), featuring a few splits that would undoubtedly be quite painful to the average man.
Of the cast, William Powell delivers a nice performance in the title role, capturing both the taste and generosity of Ziegfeld, and his relationship with his rival (played by Frank Morgan) is touching. The two of them imbue this biography with class, and through sheer force of will in the production, one can see why the film won the Academy Award for Best Picture. I have to say though, it had too much detail, and for me the first and third hours were too long. Myrna Loy doesn't even make her appearance as Billie Burke until the 2:10 point or so, and her part is rather modest. Luise Rainer plays his first wife, the performer Anna Held, and turns in a mediocre performance, so it's harder to understand her Oscar. Lastly, the film lacks an edge. Ziegfeld was a notorious womanizer, and while that's alluded to, it's all pretty innocent, lacking a certain zest, authenticity, or both. Emotions in general are all muted and glossed over, making us aware of the movie being a theatrical production of its own. You can certainly do worse, but I would only recommend the film with reservations.
William Powell shines.
There are some really gorgeous scenes in this film, especially in the middle. In fact, there is a good hour long movie stuck in the middle of this one, but the beginning and end are very drawn out and boring. Ziegfeld shows what kind of large successes and constant failures can surround someone who risks everything all the time. Though this movie won Best Picture and Actress, with Rainer handing in a great performance, it was a very hard film to get through and I was glad when it finally ended.
I do not understand why this is considered a musical. The music does not further the plot therefore it is not a musical.
Here's a move we've all heard about but few of us have actually seen. It is mostly noteworthy for winning Luise Rainer her second Oscar, although it's hard to see why. Her small role as Ziegfeld's first wife Anna Held give her little to do except look self-pitying and weepy throughout. Her Oscar winning scene consists of a telephone conversation in which she bravely smiles through her tears. which may have wowed audiences in 1936 but looks pretty cheesy by today's acting standards. Otherwise, this Academy Award winning film is strangely lacking in excitement. Here is a movie about Broadway in which there is very little about the theater -- no backstage excitement, nothing of what it takes to put on a show. Most of the story takes place in living rooms and offices, interrupted too many times by endless, tedious "show girl" routines that add nothing. The introduction of a great song such as "Look For the Silver Lining" is tossed off and the song is not even fully performed, nor is the composer Jerome Kern even named. Most of Ziegfeld's legendary shows are presented as no more than passing theatre marquees, evoking nothing of the shows themselves. "Show Boat" comes and goes without a whisper of its importance, but we sure do get a lot of Christmas with the Ziegfelds in their luxurious home. After ditching Anna Held, Ziegfeld marries Billie Burke on her way to immortality as Glinda in "The Wizard of Oz," but otherwise forgettable as portrayed by Myrna Loy. William Powell ages nicely through the film, but there is nothing in the performance that suggest what made Ziegfeld "great," as the title promises.
Decent biopic. Won the 1937 Oscar for Best Picture.
The (true) story of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr, entertainment producer extraordinaire and creator of the Ziegfeld Follies. Shows his many ups and downs, veering many times from stellar success to near-bankruptcy. Also shows his relationships.
Like Ziegfeld's career, the movie has its ups and downs. The ups are the portrayals of Ziegfeld's creative genius and mind for advertising. He clearly knew how to put on a show, and how to generate publicity for his shows and performers. William Powell puts in a solid. convincing performance as Ziegfeld.
The shows themselves are quite entertaining, though do consume too much time.
There's the main problem - the movie goes on and on. The show scenes are overly long and too frequent. Plus there are several scenes involving Ziegfeld's private life that are boring and add nothing to the movie - they should have been left out. I really don't know how Luise Rainer won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Anna Held - she was average, at best.
Overall, reasonably interesting from an historical perspective but could have done with some major editing.