The Great Ziegfeld

Synopsis: At the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, sideshow barker Flo Ziegfeld turns the tables on his more successful neighbor Billings, and steals his girlfriend to boot. This pattern is repeated throughout their lives, as Ziegfeld makes and loses many fortunes putting on ever bigger, more spectacular shows (sections of which appear in the film). French revue star Anna Held becomes his first wife, but it's not easy being married to the man who "glorified the American girl." Late in life, now married to Billie Burke, he seems to be all washed up, but...
Director(s): Robert Z. Leonard
Production: MGM Home Entertainment
  Won 3 Oscars. Another 1 win & 5 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
176 min

Step right up to the platform,

ladies and gentlemen.

You will see the greatest show

on the midway for only 50 cents.

These little ladies are entertaining

you now, but in just a moment...

...Little Egypt will turn on her stuff.

She has danced before

all the crown heads of Europe.

She makes blue blood

turn into red.

Ladies and gentlemen, step right up...

...and buy your tickets for Sandow,

the strongest man in the world.

He juggles pianos.

He plays marbles with cannonballs.

He lifts 10 times his own weight

with one arm.

He can even raise his own salary.

Now, folks, step right this way.

You are looking at the sensation of

the fair, the eighth Wonder of the World.

Ladies and gentlemen,

this way. This way.

This little lady has wiggled herself...

...from the desert

to the shores of Lake Michigan.

And she's about to give you

an exhibition absolutely free.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not

the dance that Little Egypt does inside...

...but to prove our generosity,

we're going to give a demonstration...

...of that famous dance,

the hootchy-kootch. Egypt, wiggle.

That's sufficient.

Now, ladies and gentlemen...

He's a masterpiece of manhood.

Step up to the box office and buy

your tickets. The show's about to begin.

- Phenomenon.

Ladies and gentlemen, this...

Well, how's business, Ziggy?

And now, ladies and gentlemen,

Sandow concludes this performance... lifting, with Herculean strength,

the largest dumbbell in the world.

An unusual feat,

ladies and gentlemen...

...for inside this huge dumbbell,

there are other dumbbells.

Ladies and gentlemen, look.

There you are. Aren't they beautiful?

Aren't they glorious?

A total weight of 750 pounds.

Isn't it wonderful? Isn't it marvelous?

Let's give him a big hand.

What made you bring me

to a show of this kind?

Well, you wouldn't let me

see Little Egypt.

I'll bet a heifer against a mare

the weights ain't on the level.

Seven hundred and fifty pounds,

my foot.

- I wonder what her total weight is. Bill?

- Yes, sir.

- Open the curtains, will you?

- Open up those curtains.

Hey, Bill, you know, it seems to me

that this platform...

Oh, hello, baby.

Want some candy, Jane, huh?

Bill, we ought to have

this platform built higher.

There ought to be more steps.

The people in the back can hardly see.

But, Mr. Ziegfeld, there's never

anybody in the back rows.

Well, nevertheless, I want this higher.

There ought to be a lot more steps.

Okay, Mr. Ziegfeld.

I'm sorry I lost my temper, Florenz...

...but I am awful disappointed.

I hope you never get

downright disgusted.

What is wrong?

Why don't they come in?

You're the attraction,

and you're asking me?

Maybe you would like

to cancel my contract.

Oh, no, Sandow.

When I make a deal, it's a deal.

I like that. I like you.

Well, I like you too.

If you want to pay me some of my

back salary, I take you to dinner, yeah?

Well, I'm not very hungry.

You're not worrying

about your money, are you?

- You don't think I'd walk out on you?

- No, no.

Nobody do that to Sandow.

- Maybe I better take you to dinner.

- That's fine.

Hands up, mister, and give me

all your money.

Well, I can't give you anything

with my hands up, sweetheart.

All right, fresh, 23 skidoo for you.

I'll help myself.

Oh, no. Oh, I see you got

my little surprise.

This morning. Gee, ain't it swell?

- Were you really surprised?

- Well, wouldn't you be?

- Yes.

- Lf you expected a diamond ring.

Oh, don't be...

Tell you what we'll do.

- We'll go to the Little Vienna Restaurant.

- Oh, I'd like that.

- Telegram, Mr. Billings.

- Oh, thank you.

Just wait a minute. There might

be an answer. Let me see.

- Oh, well, I'll be.

- Bad news?

No, it's from Ziegfeld.

He's across the midway.

He can touch me,

but he has to send wires.

Listen, "In Little Egypt, you have

the best female attraction of the fair.

In Sandow, I have the greatest

male attraction.

Why not fake a romance?

The people will eat it up.

Then we can show them together,

and I'd be willing to split 50-50."

- Well, that sounds like a great idea.

- Oh, yes, great.

I'm selling out every performance,

he's going to be thrown out...

...and he's willing to split 50-50.

Give me your pencil.

I'll answer this one.

- Jack?

- Yes.

- Is Ziegfeld a good friend of yours?

- Oh, yes, we've been pals for years.

- But you wouldn't like him.

- No?

No, he's up one day and broke the next.

If he got $ 10,000 tomorrow...

...he'd spend it on the girl

he liked tomorrow night.

Wouldn't want to waste your time

meeting a fellow like that.

- Not if I met him on the right night.

- On the right...? Oh, don't you...

- Shut up! And just send that collect.

- Yes, sir, and I'll deliver it too, sir.

Because every time I take Mr. Ziegfeld

a message, he gives me 50 cents.

- Oh, he does, does he?

- Sure.

Yes, well, that's probably

why he's always broke. Come on, dear.

This cheese is so strong it could

walk over and say hello to your coffee.

Well, it had better not.

This coffee's too weak to answer it.

Florenz, you're wonderful.

You make jokes even when you're so

worried you can't touch your cold cuts.

I got no appetite neither.


Message for you, Mr. Ziegfeld.

- They told me I'd find you here.

- From Billings.

So soon he answers?

He must be crazy about your proposition.

- Yeah.

- Read it to me, Flo. Read it.

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William Anthony McGuire

William Anthony McGuire (July 9, 1881 - September 16, 1940) was a playwright, theatre director, and producer and screenwriter, including The Kid From Spain (1932) starring Eddie Cantor. McGuire earned an Oscar nomination for the 1936 film The Great Ziegfeld, the Best Picture Oscar winner of 1936. Born in Chicago, Illinois, McGuire made his Broadway debut in 1910 as author of the play The Heights. He went on to write, direct, and produce Twelve Miles Out (1925) and If I Was Rich (1926) and write and direct Rosalie (1928), Whoopee! (1928), The Three Musketeers (1928), and Show Girl (1929). McGuire is quoted by the gossip columnist Sidney Skolsky as saying of his profession and milieu, "Broadway's a great street when you're going up. When you're going down -- take Sixth Avenue."McGuire died of uremia in Beverly Hills, California. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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