Ziegfeld Follies

Friday night’s offering in the Cine Club de la UV was Zeigfeld Flollies, a lush 1945 production directed by Vincente Minelli. The film, which I woudn’t go out of my way to watch again but stayed through the end, consists of vignettes by each of its stars, and there are many whose names I recognize. Alphabetically, the film stars Fred Astair, Lucille Ball, Lucille Bremer, Fanny Brice, Judy Garland, Kathyrn Grason, Lena Horne, Gene Kelly, James Melton, Victor Moore, Red Skelton, Ester Williams, and William Powell as Ziegfeld in heaven, with appearances also by William Frawley (whom you might remember from the Lucy show) and a Keenan Wynn.

Most of the vignettes were staged on elaborate sets including a really spectacular underwater set in which Ester Williams performed a ballet. Melton and Bremer sang Traviata, a young Judy Garland belted out a song in a pretty silly situation, Astair and Kelly did a really nice tap dance duet, Lena Horne sang in a roadhouse I imagine one might find in rural Louisiana. Lucille Ball did nothing except sashay around the set wielding a whip on a chorus line dressed as cats, the Red Skelton vignette was a waste, and the Fanny Brice skit was pathetic as was that of Keenan Wynn. There was also a bizzare Astair/Bremer segment set in China Town in which they were made up to appear Asian, Bremer somewhat convincingly and Astair not in the least, as you can imagine with that chin and nose of his. Their dance routine, it seems to me, could have been performed in any setting which makes the Asian make up all the more inexplicable.

The theater in which the films are shown is small, with about 150 seats and a low, shallow wooden floored stage. The building in which the theater is located, however, is a spectacular three story colonial edifice, with a central atrium, which houses university administrative offices and is only a ten minute walk from the dog shelter.

Monday’s offering is the 1950 film, Summer Stock starring Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, and Gloria Dehaven.

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