Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

In director Robert Z. Leonard's and MGM's lengthy musical biography, a Best Picture winner, featuring the fictional and real-life portrayals of past Ziegfeld Follies greats, including Fanny Brice, Will Rogers, and Eddie Cantor:

  • the celebrated, moving telephone scene in which heartbroken Anna Held (Oscar-winning Luise Rainer), the first of womanizing impresario Florenz (Flo) Ziegfeld's (William Powell) wives, congratulated her ex-husband Flo on his re-marriage, after reading the World newspaper article headlined: "ZIEGFELD WEDS BILLIE BURKE; PRODUCER AND STAR IN SECRET CEREMONY AT HOBOKEN - Frohman Enraged at News of Romance, Friends Learn" - and she pretended to be happy for him: ("Hello, Flo... Yes. Here's Anna... I'm so happy for you today, I could not help calling you and congratulate you... Wonderful, Flo! Never better in my whole life!... I'm so excited about my new plans! I'm going to Paris. Yes, for a few weeks, and then I can get back, and then I'm doing a new show, and... Oh, it's all so wonderful! I'm so happy!... Yes... And I hope you are happy, too... Yes?... Oh, I'm so glad for you, Flo... Sounds funny for ex-husband and ex-wife to tell each other how happy they are, oui?... Yes, Flo... Goodbye, Flo... Goodbye..."); after her show of support, she collapsed sobbing
  • the amazing dance number by Ray Bolger (as Himself)
  • its most famous sequence - the lavish, elaborately-costumed, gargantuan, overly-long production number "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" filmed in one continuous shot and featured 180 performers; after the singing of the song in front of an immense curtain, it was drawn back to view a fabulous crane shot of a slowly-spinning, cork-screwing tower of stairs holding singers, dancers, musicians, and other artists; at the end was the appearance of Audrey Dane (Virginia Bruce) - a Glorified Ziegfeld Girl, perched atop the giant revolving platform or pillar (a towering white staircase)
"A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody"
The Curtain
The Staircase
  • the closing segment "You Never Looked So Beautiful" with the title song sung by Audrey Dane with tuxedoed men, followed by a fashion show, of sorts, with many poses of numerous chorines wearing extravagant costumes and headdresses, ending with a close-up of Audrey Dane
  • the aging and seriously-ill Ziegfeld's final scene with his faithful butler Sidney (Ernest Cossart), after viewing his Ziegfeld Theatre sign from his window, about wanting to do an even more spectacular Follies show in the future: "I must do the biggest Follies of my whole life. I-..." but then, he realized that he was broke and only dreaming: "I can't laugh any more, Sidney, because I've been wrong. I've got nothing, nothing to leave anyone." When encouraged, Ziegfeld began to speak hopefully again, but then passed away in his arm-chair (as he recalled images, super-imposed atop his face, of his stage productions): "(You leave them) the memories of the finest things ever done on the stage... I've got to have more steps. I need more steps. I've got to get higher, higher!"); a white rose dropped from his right hand, signifying his death
Ziegfeld's Death Scene

Telephone Scene

Ray Bolger Dance

"You Never Looked So Beautiful" (with Virginia Bruce)


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