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Ziegfeld Girl (DVD)
Judy Garland, Hedy Lamar and Lana Turner--three of the most glamorous leading ladies of the Golden Age of Hollywood--star with Jimmy Stewart as young women each chosen for a life of fame on stage as a Ziegfeld Girl. Susan Gallagher (Academy Award winner Garland--The Wizard of Oz, A Star is Born) leaves her vaudevillian father to climb the ladder of stardom; Sheila Regan (Turner--The Postman Always Rings Twice) drops her loyal beau, Gilbert Young (Academy Award winner Stewart-- It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) for socialite Geoffrey Collins (Ian Hunter--Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and Young resorts to bootlegging to earn the money to win Regan back; and the exotic Sandra Kolter (Lamar--Tortilla Flat, Samson and Delilah) nearly destroys her marriage with her struggling violinist husband (Philip Dorn--I Remember Mama). Now, as part of the most glamorous show ever staged, these ladies have attained their dreams ....]]>
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Sparky red-headed lift operator Sheila Regan (Lana Turner), dignified musician's wife Sandra Kolter (Hedy Lamarr) and tenacious vaudevillian Susan Gallagher (Judy Garland) all have the potential of making it big in the Ziegfeld Follies.
Sheila is the girl who wants fame and fortune via the shortest possible route, and if that involves courting the attentions of rich stage-door daddies, and dumping her faithful boyfriend Gil (Jimmy Stewart), that's exactly what she'll do. Sandra is the cultured wife of penniless violin player Franz Kolter (Philip Dorn) and success in the Follies doesn't really matter to her either way; she has her feet planted firmly on the ground and even the attentions of womanising Follies tenor Frank Merton (Tony Martin) will barely register with her. Finally there's Susan Gallagher. "I was born in a trunk but Pop left the lid open!", Susan proudly proclaims. She co-stars with her father (Charles Winninger) in a hammy vaudeville routine and later harbours extreme guilt at having broken up the act to appear in the Follies. Success will only come to one of these girls. The road to Follies stardom will be littered with broken hearts and broken dreams for the other two...
ZIEGFELD GIRL was one of Lana Turner's first major roles for MGM; and she definitely has the meatiest role as Sheila. Hedy Lamarr doesn't really do much except perhaps play a variation of herself but she's a gorgeous presence. Judy Garland, in one of her first "grown-up" roles, is luminous as always and has two brilliant musical numbers in which to shine ("I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" and "Minnie from Trinidad").
The ideal film for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
TRIVIA: The film recycles the "Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" spinning wedding-cake shot from THE GREAT ZIEGFELD for the "You Never Looked So Beautiful Before" finale, by cleverly costuming Judy Garland to look exactly like Virginia Bruce on top of the revolving "cake".
At the same time that he was playing Judy Garland's father in ZIEGFELD GIRL, Charles Winninger was also Deanna Durbin's dad in the "Three Smart Girls" movies at Universal. The ZIEGFELD GIRL connection? Both Garland and Durbin were both under short-term contracts at MGM, but sadly only one could be groomed as the studio's new juvenile star. MGM paired them in a short ("Every Sunday") to decide who would stay. Deanna was dropped but later went on to great success at rival studio Universal where she made over 20 films and happily retired at the age of 27.