Musical Monday: The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
The Great Ziegfeld (1936) – Musical #214

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Robert Z. Leonard

Starring:
William Powell, Myrna Loy, Luise Rainer, Frank Morgan, Virginia Bruce, Reginald Owen, Nat Pendleton, Ernest Cossart, Joseph Cawthorn, Jean Chatburn, Herman Bing, Raymond Walburn, Thomas Clarke (uncredited), Mickey Daniels (uncredited), Williams Demarest (uncredited), Ann Gillis (uncredited), Ruth Gillette (uncredited), Joan Holland (uncredited), Suzanne Kaaren (uncredited), Dennis Morgan (uncredited), Dennis O’Keefe (uncredited), Buddy Doyle (uncredited)
Themselves: Fanny Brice, Ray Bolger, Harriet Hoctor
Ziegfeld Girls: Wanda Allen, Lynn Bailey, Monica Bannister, Lynn Bari, Bonnie Bannon, Sheila Browning, Edna Callahan, Diane Cook, Pauline Craig, Hester Dean, Susan Fleming, Virginia Grey, Mary Halsey, Jeanne Hart, Patricia Havens-Monteagle, Marcia Healy, Margaret Lyman, Frances MacInerney, Julie Mooney, Pat Nixon, Carlita Orr, Claire Owen, Wanda Perry, Evelyn Randolph, Venita Varden, Dolly Verner

Plot:
Fictional musical biography of Broadway impresario, Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. (Powell). The film chronicles his rise from carnival barker to one of the United States’ most powerful entertainment figures in the United States. It also includes his romances and marriages to Anna Held (Rainer) and Billie Burke (Loy).

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Musical Monday: “Let Freedom Ring” (1939)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Let Freedom Ring” (1939)– Musical #354

let freedom ring

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Jack Conway

Starring:
Nelson Eddy, Virginia Bruce, Victor McLaglen, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, Guy Kibbee, Charles Butterworth, Gabby Hayes

Plot:
Steve Logan (Eddy) returns to his home back west after graduating from Harvard. Now a lawyer, he finds his town full of corruption being lead by Jim Knox (Arnold). Logan sets out to save his friends and family by disguising himself as “The Wasp” and uses the power of the press to break down Knox.

Trivia:
-Script by Ben Hecht

Nelson Eddy and Virginia Bruce in "Let Freedom Ring."

Nelson Eddy and Virginia Bruce in “Let Freedom Ring.”

Notable songs:
-Dusty Road performed by Nelson Eddy
-Love Serenade performed by Nelson Eddy
-Ten Thousand Cattle Straying performed by Nelson Eddy
-When Irish Eyes Are Smiling performed by Nelson Eddy
-America, My Country ‘Tis of Thee performed by Nelson Eddy and Virginia Bruce

My review:
“Let Freedom Ring,” is more of a western than a musical. Though Nelson Eddy sings three or four songs during the film, his beautiful voice isn’t the focus of the film.
Coming from the great year of 1939, this movie isn’t as well known as it’s contemporaries. However, this little western sparkles just as bright and continues to show that there was something in the water that year that made the majority of the films coming out of Hollywood great.
Along with some lovely songs performed by Eddy, we also have the treat of an excellent supporting cast of character actors. Guy Kibbee, Edward Arnold, Victor McLaglen, Charles Butterworth, Gabby Hayes. What more could you ask for than that?!
McLaglen and Butterworth have several particularly funny scenes.
Virginia Bruce also does well in the film, but unfortunately has very little screen time. Lionel Barrymore is also a treat (as always), but similarly has little screen time. In the film, Eddy actually seemed to have more energy and be less wooden without his frequent co-star Jeannette MacDonald.
This film is interesting if you think about what is going on around the world at this time. Much of Europe was being invaded by Germany and preparing for war. While the United States had not yet joined World War II, it was still at the forefront of their minds.
Nelson Eddy’s character gives several speeches, particularly about not being oppressed by tyranny. I’m fairly certain his lines were written with the European situation in mind.
Whether you are a fan of westerns or musicals, this little film is one you should catch. With great songs, humorous moments and rousing speeches, it’s a fun way to spend 90 minutes.

Nelson Eddy in "Let Freedom Ring."

Nelson Eddy in “Let Freedom Ring.”

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