Sunday, November 22, 2009
Ziegfeld Girl is solid entertainment
Star loaded 1941 film Ziegfeld Girl is an enjoyable film. It stars Jimmy Stewart, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, and Lana Turner. Like I said star loaded. The film centers on three different girls who become Ziegfeld girls, which they hope mean fame and money. Judy is Susan Gallagher, one half of a musical variety act with her old school dad (played by the fabulous Charles Winniger) that play at very small locales just to earn some money. Well Susan gets the call that the great Mr. Ziegfeld is looking for new girls and she is all happy for her and her dad. But Ziegfeld just wants Susan and not dad. So tension arises from that situation but good old dad doesn't stand in her way. Susan becomes a Ziegfeld girl and her dad carries on the show by himself. Hedy plays Sandra Kotler, a married woman whose violinist husband Franz is struggling to make a name for himself. At the audition for acts for The Ziegfeld show, Franz is overlooked but Sandra is picked to be a ZG, much to Franz's displeasure. They end up separated for awhile and Sandra becomes close with the show's male vocalist Frank (played by Tony Martin). And finally there is elevator girl Sheila Regan (Lana Turner) who has a boyfriend trucker named Gill (Jimmy Stewart with a thick Brooklyn accent). Sheila is the type of girl from the wrong side of the tracks with a hard working family. Once she gets picked, she makes the biggest transformation of all the girls. She lets the fame and money go to her head and breaks up with Gill and starts romancing a much older and richer man. All the girls personal issues play out against the backdrop of the Ziegfeld musical shows. Judy Garland gets to belt out a few good numbers. But its actually Charles Winniger who has the best musical number: a song and dance number with an old vaudeville partner that leaves the audience amazed. Hedy Lamarr is strictly here for decoration, not that there's anything wrong with that. Her scenes with Franz are her best though. Jimmy Stewart is good as Gill, a nice change of pace from playing the good guys..he ends up in jail for bootlegging after being dumped by Sheila. His Brooklyn accent is thick, but somehow he loses it by midway through the film. The standout in this film is Lana Turner as Sheila. Whoever may have question Ms. Turner's acting ability will be put in check by her performance here. It deserved some type of award for her hard take on this girl who becomes her own worst enemy. Towards the end, Sheila will have hit rock bottom and Turner nails it with a riveting performance. Ms. Turner may have been known for her beauty, but here she proves she can act with the best of them. There is also solid support from veterans Edward Everett Horton, Fay Holden and Eve Arden. Typical Eve gets in several good zingers. So, Ziegfeld Girl is a marvelous film, not really a straight forward musical, more of a drama that has a few musical numbers in it with solid performances by a talented cast. And one knockout performance by Lana Turner. I enjoyed every minute of it.