Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Street with No Name (1948)

The Street with No Name is one of those police procedurals with a semi-documentary feel that enjoyed quite a vogue in the late 40s (The Naked City being perhaps the best known). For some mysterious reason these films always seem to get included in the film noir genre, although most have little that is noir about them.

The Street with No Name was made by 20th Century-Fox in 1948, with William Keighley in the director’s chair.

The theme is the rise of a new style of gangsterism in the post-war period and the FBI’s battle to contain this threat. Two violent robberies end in murder and the FBI laboratory confirms that the bullets in both cases came from the same gun. It is clear that a dangerous gang is at work and the FBI assigns one of its top operatives to the case - Inspector George Briggs (Lloyd Nolan).

The Bureau decides the best way to handle the case is to get someone on the inside of the gang. A man named Robert Danker had been arrested for the murders but the FBI investigation had cleared him of any involvement. Before the man can be released someone posts bail for him, and within 24 hours he is found dead. He was a drifter with a criminal record and the assumption is that he was recruited by the gang, set up by them as a patsy and then for some reason the gang decided to kill him.

Special Agent Gene Cordell (Mark Stevens) is sent undercover to infiltrate the gang. He will pose as a criminal drifter (using the alias George Manly) with a profile almost identical to Danker’s and will hang around the same sleazy pool rooms and other haunts that Danker was known to have frequented. With luck the gang will try to recruit him.

The plans works well. Cordell soon attracts the attention of creepy big shot Alec Stiles and it doesn’t take long for him to discover that Stiles is the leader of the gang that the Bureau is after. But Stiles is not just a clever criminal (he believes his approach to crime is scientific) he is also dangerously unbalanced and clearly extremely violent. This will be a dangerous assignment for Special Agent Cordell, and for his Bureau controller Cy Gordon (John McIntire) who will also be going undercover as a low life bum in order to keep a close watch on Cordell. Cordell is a very good agent but inexperienced at undercover operations.

Now Cordell has to get the goods on Alec Stiles before Stiles gets the goods on him, the latter possibility being a very real one since it is now obvious that Stiles has someone in the city’s police department in his pocket feeding him information.

Mark Stevens is solid as Cordell. Lloyd Nolan is as reliable as ever, my only complaint about him in this picture being that I wish he’d had more screen time - he’s always an actor I enjoy watching. The supporting cast is uniformly excellent. One of the great strengths of the studio system was that the studios always had plenty of great character actors under contract who could fill the supporting role in movies like this with complete professionalism.

And then there’s Richard Widmark. In his early career he made something of a specialty of playing psycho killers. In his first attempt in Kiss of Death in 1947 he overdid things a bit and his performance came dangerously close to caricature. But Widmark was a quick learner and by the time he made The Street with No Name he had learnt that toning it down a little and being a little less obvious could actually make his performances far more chilling. In this movie the violent psychopathic craziness is still there, but you can see it bubbling away underneath the confident façade rather than being all on the surface. It’s an extremely effective performance.

William Keighley handles his directing responsibilities quite competently while cinematographer Joseph MacDonald contributes plenty of noirish atmosphere.

This is not a great movie but it’s extremely well made and very enjoyable, the sort of high-quality mid-range entertainment that the studio system at its best could produce in quantity.

The Region 4 DVD is sadly lacking in extras but it looks great.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Interlude (1957)

Interlude (1957)

Interlude (later re-released as Forbidden Interlude), released in 1957, is one of the lesser known Douglas Sirk movies of the 1950s. Like most of his great films of that era it was produced by Ross Hunter for Universal.

Helen Banning (June Allyson) is an American who has just arrived in Munich to work in the US consulate there. She meets the great conductor Tonio Fischer (Rossano Brazzi), and they fall in love.

Tonio however has a tragic secret, a secret that has the potential to doom their love affair.

Tonio has a rival for Helen’s affections, a rather dull American doctor named Morley Dwyer (Keith Andes).

Interlude (1957)

Helen has never experienced a great love before and she is quite swept off her feet by the sophisticated European conductor.

A romantic idyll follows but Tonio is clearly troubled by something and the revelation when it does come leaves Helen shell-shocked to say the least, and facing a situation for which she is quite unprepared. What seemed like a simple holiday romance is anything but simple.

Interlude (1957)

I’ve never liked June Allyson but I must admit she’s quite good in this film. Rossano Brazzi doesn’t overdo the Latin over thing. Both leads give surprisingly effective and sensitive performances. Keith Andes as Dr Dwyer is dull, but his character is supposed to be dull in contrast to Tonio’s European sophistication and charm.

With Ross Hunter producing, Douglas Sirk directing and William H. Daniels doing the cinematography, and given that the movie was shot in Cinemascope and Technicolor you’d expect Interlude to have a lush romantic look, and that’s exactly what it has.

Interlude (1957)

For hardcore Sirk fans this movie may seem to lack the irony that they love so much in movies like Written on the Wind. It’s true that Interlude is a different sort of film, a more or less straightforward romantic melodrama, but Sirk took melodrama more seriously than is often assumed. Like all his melodramas Interlude has a powerful intensity. No matter what you think about his characters their pain is real and he wants you to feel that pain.

Finding that the movie was based on a James M. Cain story may come as a surprise but Cain was obsessed by music and the musical background to the story reflects that love.

Interlude (1957)

The Region 4 DVD from Madman’s Director’s Suite series includes an interview with Kathryn Bigelow in which she talks way too much about her own films and spouts some silly film school psychoanalytical nonsense. It had the effect of telling me very little about Sirk and making me want to avoid Bigelow’s movies.

Interlude might not be a major Sirk movie but it’s a supremely romantic and tragic love story. Most Sirk fans seem to regard this as not merely a minor effort but even as a failure but as long as you’re not expecting something of the quality of Sirk’s great films then it’s worth a look.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Panic in the Streets (1950)

Panic in the Streets (1950)

Stylistically Elia Kazan’s Panic in the Streets might be textbook film noir, but as far as content is concerned there’s nothing remotely noir about it. Despite this it’s an effective and unusual thriller, made by Kazan at 20th Century-Fox in 1950.

This is a race-against-time chase movie, but the people being chased are not being chased because they’ve committed any crime, even though one is in fact a cold-blooded murderer. Murder is a very secondary consideration here. The authorities are after these people because they may be infected (in fact almost certainly are infected) by pneumonic plague. And if you think bubonic plague is bad, pneumonic plague is much worse. It’s spread by airborne means, just as easily and just as quickly as the common cold. And by the time you’re showing symptoms you’re just hours away from death.

Panic in the Streets (1950)

The movie starts out as apparently a straightforward crime movie set in the New Orleans underworld. A card game ends in murder, and the victim ends in the morgue. The doctor making what he assumes is a very routine examination of the murder (after all with two bullet holes in him the cause of death seems pretty straightforward) notices a few things that make him very very unhappy. So unhappy that he immediately rings the Public Health Service. Lieutenant-Commander Dr Clinton Reed (Richard Widmark) is sent to investigate and what he sees in his microscope makes him very unhappy as well. He’s seen pneumonic plague before, in Asia, and he has no doubts whatsoever that that is what he is seeing. Convincing the city authorities is not so easy.

Police Captain Tom Warren (Paul Douglas) is assigned to the case, and he’s not pleased. He’s sceptical about the whole plague theory and in any case it all seems like a waste of time to him - how can the police possibly find the killer within 48 hours when they don’t even know the identity of the victim? He’s even less happy that Reed has assigned himself  to the case as an unofficial but very determined amateur detective.

Panic in the Streets (1950)

The time factor is crucial for two reasons. Firstly if the outbreak isn’t localised within that time it will be impossible to find every person who has had contact with the victim and there’ll be no way of stopping a full-scale epidemic, and secondly it’s unlikely that the story can be kept away from the press for any longer than that, and once the newspapers report the story the killer or killers will be on the first bus, train, aircraft or ship out of the city. Not to mention the minor problem of a full-blown panic.

The only clue to the victim’s identity is that he was found in a dockland area and this coupled with the fact that he carries no ID suggests he is an illegal immigrant who probably arrived by ship (presumably as a stowaway) within the last 24 hours.

Panic in the Streets (1950)

Kazan handles this exciting race against the clock with consummate skill. There’s no suspense as to the identity of the murderer. The audience knows it was a small-time hoodlum named Blackie (Jack Palance), but the suspense comes from the police not having any of the clues that the audience has. This is a classic recipe for suspense and it works well.

Widmark gives one of his most restrained, and one of his best, early performances. Reed is a man who is driven not just by the need to do a very important job but also by some inner demons - even though he enjoys his work and is happily married with a kid he feels he hasn’t really made a success out of his life. He feels he should be much further ahead in his career and should be able to provide his family with a lot more. There’s plenty of turmoil and plenty of self-doubts under the surface but Widmark keeps the lid on it and makes Reed both an interesting and sympathetic character. We know he’s driving himself too hard, but we know he has to do so.

Panic in the Streets (1950)

Paul Douglas provides the perfect foil for Widmark, the sceptical commonsense cop who slowly comes to realise that this guy Reed really does know what he’s talking about. The interplay between these two characters is one the movie’s great strengths as these two very different men come to respect, and even like, one another. Jack Palance relishes his role as the vicious Blackie while Barbara Bel Geddes is very capable as Reed’s wife.

Noir fans will find more than enough atmospheric and shadow-filled night scenes to keep them happy.

Kazan gives his actors room to develop their characters but he also gives us some superb chase sequences. Overall it’s a highly entertaining thriller that is certainly recommended. The Region 4 DVD sadly lacks even a commentary track although it looks impressive.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Mark of Zorro (1940)

The Mark of Zorro (1940)Johnston McCulley’s first Zorro novel, The Curse of Capistrano, was published in 1919 and has been adapted for the screen a number of times, the most notable version being the 1920 silent film The Mark of Zorro with Douglas Fairbanks as Zorro. Also worth a look is the 1940 movie of the same title, with Tyrone Power as the masked hero, which i the subject of today’s review.

Don Diego Vega is a dashing and courageous hussar officer and one of the most noted duellists in Madrid. He lives for pleasure, that is until he is recalled to his birthplace in California. His father is the Alcalde of Los Angeles. On his arrival he is surprised and disturbed to hear that the Alcalde is feared and hated. How can his be, when his father is the most noble and most just of men?

He soon discovers the answer. His father has been forced from office. The new Alcalde is Don Luis Quintero. Quintero is fat, lazy, corrupt and greedy. The real power in the land is the commander of his guard, Captain Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone in one of his classic villain roles).

The Mark of Zorro (1940)

The obvious thing would be to challenge the new alcalde openly, but Don Diego is more intelligent and more subtle than that. He makes a quick decision. He will present himself as an effete foppish intellectual, a clown who delights in magic tricks.

This of course soon leads everyone in Los Angeles to despise Don Diego, and none more so than his old friend Fray Felipe, who might be a man of God but who is also a hot-headed fire-eater.

The Mark of Zorro (1940)

Meanwhile Don Diego has secretly taken on the role of the masked avenger of wrongs, Zorro. Reviled as a bandit by the authorities who place a price on his head, Zorro is adored by the common people, and also by those caballeros who are appalled by the cruelty, rapaciousness and dishonesty of Quintero and his henchmen.

There is a romantic complication (of course) - Don Luis’ daughter Lolita (Linda Darnell) falls in love with Zorro.

Sooner or later there will be a reckoning between Captain Esteban Pasquale and Zorro.

One slightly odd thing about this version is that Don Diego is not especially careful about revealing his secret identity as Zorro. This is a weakness of the film, but it’s a minor quibble really.

The Mark of Zorro (1940)

Johnston McCulley left the setting rather vague in his original story, as does the movie although it’s clearly either the late 18th or early 19th century

I’d always thought of Tyrone Power as the poor man’s Errol Flynn but he’s actually a rather good Zorro, equally convincing as both the man of action and as the foppish Don Diego. Basil Rathbone was always a superb villain, hiding his viciousness beneath a veneer of civilisation.

Linda Darnell was a very underrated actress and makes a fine heroine while the supporting cast is quite strong.

Director Rouben Mamoulian does a solid job while Arthur C. Miller’s black-and-white cinematography is excellent, as usual.

The Mark of Zorro (1940)

20th Century-Fox obviously spent quite a lot of money on this film and the production values are fairly lavish.

The Region 4 DVD boasts a very acceptable transfer although it’s short on extras.

This 1940 version of The Mark of Zorro is a classic swahbuckler and is recommended for fans of that genre.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Young Winston (1972)

Young Winston (1972)Young Winston is an old-fashioned biopic. If such a movie were to be made today it would be a hatchet job. Larger-than-life heroes like Churchill are out of fashion. Richard Attenborough is quite content simply to present us with what is largely Churchill’s own version of his early life, and let us make up our own minds. We see Churchill’s flaws - his excessive ambition, his political ruthlessness, his glory-seeking. And we see his strengths - his conviction of his own destiny, his courage, his determination to succeed. Attenborough doesn’t try to tell us what we should think of Churchill. Whether that is a plus or a minus depends on your point of view.

Even in 1972 when it was released this was an old-fashioned movie, quite different from a movie like Patton. And at the time this was seen as a weakness. Today, to audiences grown tired of being bludgeoned by message pictures, it seems more like a virtue.

Churchill’s early life was so colourful that it would have been difficultif not impossible to make this a dull film. The young Churchill saw action on the Northwest Frontier of India with the Malakand Field Force, he saw further service in the Sudan under Lord Kitchener (where he participated in the charge of the 21st Lancers at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898) and then went to South Africa as a war correspondent, covering the Boer War for the Morning Post.

Young Winston (1972)

In South Africa he found fame. He was always anxious to be where the action was, not from an excess of courage so much as from a desperate need for material. Although born into the aristocracy (he was the grandson of the 7th Duke of Marlborough and a direct descendant of England’s greatest general, the 1st Duke of Marlborough) Churchill had to support himself from his writing. He managed to be on the scene when a British armoured train was ambushed, was captured and then escaped. His adventures became front page news.

The movie gives us plenty of spectacular action sequences but it is just as interested in its hero’s early attempts to forge a political career. Churchill’s father had been a prominent Tory Cabinet Minister but managed to destroy his own career. Young Winston was determined not to make the same mistake.

Young Winston (1972)

For Churchill war was a means of gaining fame, a springboard to political success. He was always quite open about this. His father Lord Randolph had alienated himself from his colleagues and being his son was more of handicap than an advantage to an aspiring politician, and his mother had managed to lose most of the family’s money. The young Churchill needed to make a name for himself, and he set about doing so.

The movie possibly puts too much emphasis on Winston’s relationships with his parents although this does give Robert Shaw as Lord Randolph and Anne Bancroft as Lord Randolph’s beautiful American wife Jennie the opportunity to give bravura performances.

Young Winston (1972)

The supporting cast is a roll call of British acting talent, with Sir John Mills, Anthony Hopkins, Patrick Magee and Edward Woodward all enjoying themselves enormously. The most remarkable thing about the movie though is Simon Ward’s performance in the title role. He looks like Churchill, he sounds like Churchill, he captures the Churchillian gift for theatricality and most of all he captures Churchill’s sense of destiny. He is so good in this role that he did a great deal of harm to his career, so identified did he become with this one role. But he really is superb. His speech in the House of Commons at the end of the movie is spell-binding.

Director Richard Attenborough is quite comfortable handling the grand action sequences, and he certainly had a gift for getting performances from actors. Critics then and since have felt that he failed to penetrate beneath the surface of the grandiose Churchillian façade. Perhaps he did, but at least he resisted the temptation to try to tear down a hero merely because he was a hero.

Young Winston (1972)

Whatever shortcomings this film has it has to be said that it is enormously entertaining and visually magnificent. And it’s certainly worth seeing just for Simon Ward’s uncanny performance. Recommended.

The Region 2 DVD looks terrific and includes interviews with Simon Ward and Richard Attenborough as extras.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Great Gabbo (1929)

The Great Gabbo (1929)The Great Gabbo is an odd hybrid. Made in 1929 and directed by James Cruze (a prolific director during Hollywood’s silent era), it’s part drama and part musical.

Erich von Stroheim plays the title role, a ventriloquist whose dummy Otto seems more alive than he is. Gabbo’s emotional life is lived entirely through Otto.

Gabbo has a live-in girlfriend named Mary (Betty Compson) who also serves as his assistant and dresser. Gabbo treats her abominably. As she says at one point, the only sweet things he has ever said to her have been said through Otto. Gabbo is unable to admit that he loves Mary and that he needs her. She tells him that she only stays with him because he is helpless without her. Finally, after a particularly severe quarrel, she leaves him.

The Great Gabbo (1929)

Surprisingly Gabbo now finds the success that had previously eluded him. He becomes a big star on Broadway. But he is emotionally empty. He meets Mary again and, through Otto, tells her that he needs her. Despite the way he treated her Mary is still in love with him.

Unfortunately Mary has a new boyfriend, a singer named Frank, and he’s understandably jealous over the attention that Gabbo is paying to Mary, and even more jealous of Mary’s attentions to Gabbo. The truth is that Mary likes the fact that Gabbo is dependent on her.

The Great Gabbo (1929)

The musical numbers are quite impressive. Not in the Busby Berkeley class but still fairly lavish and with at times a touch of the bizarre. The Spider and the Fly number is a highlight. The musical numbers at first seem at odds with the main storyline but as the movie progresses we can see that they reflect the strange love story at the heart of the matter, as Gabbo and Mary really are caught in the web of love, they really are the spider and the fly, but who is the spider and who is the fly?

Early sound pictures have a reputation for being rather stilted and static and at the same time excessively talky but these faults are not particularly noticeable here.

The Great Gabbo (1929)

Erich von Stroheim’s performance is the key to this film success and he is able to convey very effectively the strange mixture of cruelty and vulnerability that makes up Gabbo’s character. Betty Compson is able to make Mary something more than a mere doormat although there is obviously a hint of at least emotional sado-masochism to their relationship. There is a genuine, if unhealthy, chemistry between von Stroheim and Compson.

Some sources suggest that von Stroheim may have had a hand in the directing of the movie. Certainly it has at times the feel of a von Stroheim movie.

This is certainly an unusual musical, at times romantic and at times tragic, at other times more like black comedy. It’s very ambitious for such an early musical.

The Great Gabbo (1929)

There are many public domain versions of this movie floating about, most of them terrible.

An odd movie, too odd in fact for the movie-going public in 1929, but a movie that stands up rather well today. Modern audiences are more likely to accept the jarring alternations of apparently incompatible moods to this film, and the rather perverse central relationship, as well as the psychological complexity of Gabbo’s make-up. Recommended.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Havana Widows (1933)

Havana Widows (1933)

Havana Widows is a breezy 1933 pre-code comedy from first National Pictures with Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell as a couple of gold diggers in Cuba.

Mae Knight (Blondell) and Sadie Appleby (Farrell) are chorus girls in a burlesque show. Things are pretty tough, and then a former chorus girl of their acquaintance shows up rolling in money. She’d been to Havana and she tells them it’s knee-deep in millionaires. All you need is a shady lawyer and the suckers are ripe for the plucking. And she just happens to know of a shady lawyer, a man named Duffy. Mae and Sadie can’t wait to get their bags packed to set off for Havana.

Havana Widows (1933)

Raising the money to get to Cuba is their problem. Finally they borrow the money from Mae’s boyfriend Herman. He borrows it from his boss, but promptly loses it at the gambling tables. A shonky insurance salesman offers to help him out and Herman finds himself involved in a crooked scheme, but his big problem is that if he doesn’t pay back the money  his boss will have him rubbed out.

Meanwhile the girls are finding that separating a millionaire from his money is not as easy as they thought. When they find a rich middle-aged horse breeder named Deacon Jones (Guy Kibbee) in their bedroom they think they’ve struck it lucky. Unfortunately Mae then falls in love with Deacon’s son Bob (Lyle Talbot) who is young and handsome but penniless. And their money is soon gone, and then Herman shows up. It all gets predictably complicated.

Havana Widows (1933)

Blondell and Farrell are in top form. Lyle Talbot was a perfect actor for the pre-code era while Guy Kibbee must have made more movies in the pre-code era than anyone else. Allen Jenkins as Herman and Frank McHugh as the perpetually inebriated lawyer Duffy round out the cast.

Director Ray Enright was prolific if not terribly distinguished but he does a workmanlike job here. Pre-code comedies such as this were cranked out fairly quickly and cheaply and there’s nothing to excited about as far as the style of this movie is concerned. It really makes no more than a token effort to look like it was actually filmed in Cuba.

Havana Widows (1933)

Everyone in this movie is involved in something shady or at least slightly disreputable but they’re all pleasant and likeable. The dialogue is bright and breezy and liberally peppered with wise-cracks. It has its share of risque pre-code moments and of course there’s the obligatory shot of Joan Blondell in her underwear.

At 62 minutes this is a very short movie so it’s in no danger of wearing out its welcome. It doesn’t try to be anything but light entertainment and it succeeds rather well on its own terms. You might not be rolling on the floor with laughter but it is consistently amusing.

Havana Widows (1933)

Havana Widows is available in the made-on-demand Warner Archive DVD series, paired in a double feature with I’ve Got Your Number. The transfer is very good, but there are of course no extras.

Havana Widows is good-natured slightly naughty fun and it can certainly be recommended to pre-code fans.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

MGM’s 1936 production The Great Ziegfeld tells the life story of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr, The movie’s publicity describes him as America’s greatest showman and it’s hard to disagree. It’s a combination of biopic and musical filmed in MGM’s most extravagant style. It’s as excessive as the man himself, and just as fascinating.

Ziegfeld had his first success promoting a strongman at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. He achieved nationwide fame (and displayed his genius for publicity) launching the American career of Polish-French singer Anna Held, whom he married. His lasting fame is due to the Ziegfeld Follies which ran from 1907 to 1931. These were spectacular stage productions which launched the careers of many stars but they were most famous for their lavish musical production numbers featuring scores of showgirls.

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

Ziegfeld worshipped beauty, and for him beauty meant beauty of the feminine variety. His aim was to combine art and beauty and to package it in a form that the public would go for. He had a great talent for making fortunes, and an even greater talent for losing them. He was always wildly extravagant, but that was part of his style and a very large part of his success.

He also staged other musicals, including a production of Show Boat that set new standards for musical theatre.

The movie takes a few liberties with details of Ziegfeld’s life but is generally regarded as being quite faithful to the man’s personality and style.

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

William Powell plays the title role and he’s an ideal choice. He has the charm, and he has that ability to portray a loveable rogue. He’s not scrupulously honest and he regards paying creditors as a necessary evil that should be put off for as long as possible. He steals talent from other impresarios, he loses money as fast as he makes it, but people still love him.

Myrna Loy shares top billing with Powell but that was largely because Powell and Loy had become such a big box-office draw. In fact her role is very much a supporting one, as Ziegfeld’s second wife Billie Burke, and she unfortunately has little to do.

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

The real female lead is Luise Rainer who plays Anna Held. She goes wildly over-the-top but her performance works perfectly. She also provides much of the movie’s humour as she spends most of her time packing her bags to go back to Paris, something she does at least once a day.

The support cast is very strong, with Frank Morgan being particularly good as Ziegfeld’s friend and arch-rival Jack Billings.

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

The musical production numbers are lavish to say the least. MGM pulled out all the stops and spent as much money on one musical number as Ziegfeld spent on an entire production. The MGM style is of course not dissimilar to the Ziegfeld style, which helps a good deal. This is a very different kind of 1930s musical to the very successful Warner Brothers backstage musicals. They were made in the typical Warner Brothers wise-cracking fast-talking almost hardboiled style, which suited them perfectly. The Great Ziegfeld is by contrast very much an MGM movie - sometimes sentimental, very romantic, very warm-hearted and very very lush. I don’t think any other studio could have done justice to Ziegfeld’s larger-than-life personality and style.

Robert Z. Leonard rarely gets mentioned when the great Hollywood directors are discussed but he was the kind of skilled craftsman who made the studio system work so well. There are no less than five cinematographers credited for this movie. Oliver T. Marsh was responsible for most of the movie but other cinematographers were brought in for some of the production numbers (including the great Karl Freund). They all approach their material in the MGM style and it works.

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

This is a glorious sumptuous feast of a movie. The running time of close to three hours is as excessive as everything else about the movie but it would be difficult to do justice to Ziegfeld without making a long movie, and it’s consistently entertaining. Highly recommended.

Warner’s Region 4 DVD looks extremely good and includes a brief documentary on the film.