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Beautiful Girl is Like a Melody video on Youtube

Luise RainerA moment I’ve been waiting a long time for: musical numbers from the 1936 movie Great ziegfeld on Youtube.

First, is the amazing/magical wedding cake number. It’s 8 minutes long! It’s in elaborate art deco style, and unfortunately the low resolution version on Youtube misses out on the extraordinary detail of the costumes and sets. This 8 minutes consists of exactly two camera shots; the second camera shot begins at the 4:30 minute mark with a closeup of an operatic clown. You have to remember that people viewed it on the bigscreen; the stars at the end looked like real stars! (I watched it on my widescreen and can confirm this). Also, this film was shot and showed in the middle of the Great Depression; how ironic that in the midst of economic calamity viewers wanted to watch such lavish excess (this also happened with Top Hat, and with a more caustic edge in Golddiggers of 1933).

The second scene, You’ve got to pull strings has a fun and fantastic musical number from the same movie. The man at the end of the scene is (I’m pretty sure) Ray Bolger (the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz). Before the musical number plays on this clip, you see a brief conversation between fave actress Luise Rainer and Virginia Bruce. Rainer plays a jealous and vain starlet with a good heart who realizes she has lost the affection of Flo.

In addition to being funny and cute, she had a great scene where she receives a call from her husband after he has run off with another woman. You see all sorts of emotions in this single telephone call. She is sad, longing, yet touched that her husband has called her after a performance. Even though she recognizes he is far gone from her, she is eager to talk about his broadway hit with him (they are both consummate performers and recognize that even if they are not united by love at least they are united by art).

Here’s an animated photomontage of her photos. Rainer was one of the few actors who won Oscars for best actor in two consecutive years (the other person being Tom Hanks in the 1990s and Katherine Hepburn in the 1960s). I was amazed to see her in the 75th Anniversary Oscar Ceremony a few years ago, and the 80th anniversary is coming up next year. According to the wikipedia article, winning 2 Oscars caused her to make mediocre movies and do anything to get out of her Hollywood contract. Oddly, although she’s a good actress, I don’t think of her in terms of her acting ability as much as I do her ability to establish a character presence (as she did also in Good Earth).

More….

Speaking of Gold Diggers of 1933 (in many ways a more delightful film than the bio-epic Ziegfeld), here’s Ginger Rogers amazing song/dance number “We’re in the Money.” Yes, that is pig latin she is singing at the end. (And the joke of the dance number is that afterwards the creditors shut down the theatre because of bankruptcy–what ghoulish humor!)

Here’s another Busby Berkley musical number from Gold Diggers of 1933, Forgotten Man (surprisingly relevant to today’s Iraqi war). Pettin’ in the Park is about as bawdy as one would expect.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Tom 6/9/2008, 10:38 pm

    The movie is great and the special effect was spectacular. Just watched the movie over again and it is just wonderful and gorgeous. That’s probably the best part of the movie.

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