ZIEGFELD FOLLIES (1945)
Article 5379 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Vincente Minnelli, George Sidney, and five others
Featuring William Powell, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland
What it is: Revue style musical
Ziegfeld in heaven ruminates on when he was alive and produced his Follies, and decides he would like to do one more, which he plans, and we see.
The fantastic content is right there in the plot description, so that’s taken care of. Of course, there is no overall plot to this one; it’s a compendium of song and dance numbers interspersed with comedy sections. The use of color and the set design is top-notch throughout; the movie is worth catching for this alone. It also helps that four of the sequences feature Fred Astaire, one of which even pairs him up with Gene Kelly. My favorite sequences include an early sequence in which puppets are used to re-create an original Follies production, an underwater ballet featuring Esther Williams, and an atmospheric, evocative and brilliant sequence that takes place in Chinatown called “Limehouse Blues”. Some of the sequences and moments are just weird; we have Lucille Ball taming dancing cat women with a whip, Judy Garland singing a jazzy song about the invention of the safety pin, and a big production number that uses colored soap suds. The movie’s weakest segments are generally the comic sections; with the exception of the one featuring Red Skelton, they seem stiff and forced and they fall flat. Still, when it works, it works very well, and though I’ve never been a big musical buff, it held my attention.