Robert Z. Leonard’s Ziegfeld Girl (1941) is a rather textured critique of life in the fast lane as a Broadway showgirl. That the film was billed as a valiant successor to MGM’s own The Great Ziegfeld (1936) seems to be a misstep on the part of the publicity department and one which sets up, not merely a direct comparison between these two films (which the new story miserably fails to live up to) but also an audience expectation that what they are about to see is a lavish musical.
To be certain, Ziegfeld Girl contains two show stopping numbers; You Stepped Out of A Dream – featuring a melodic Tony Martin, and, Minnie From Trinidad – with Judy Garland as a tropical chanteuse. But the focus of this story is more on the backstage intrigue and lives touched by the magic of the follies. The story traces the lives of three aspiring show girls, Susan Gallagher (Garland), Sandra Kolter (Hedy LaMarr) and Sheila Regan (Lana Turner). Susan comes out the winner, Sandra finds happiness in marriage and Sheila winds up with the short end of the stick.
The bookends of this extraordinary corn are reprises of ‘You Never Looked So Beautiful Before’ complete with a total rip off ending that intercuts montages from The Great Ziegfeld with footage shot expressly for this new film – a rather disjointed way to showcase its three female stars and, in fact, conclude this mammoth ode to life upon the wicked stage.
In keeping with Warner Home Video’s consistent commitment to the classics, Ziegfeld Girl looks remarkably pristine on DVD. The gray scale is sharp, gorgeous and solid. Contrast and black levels are perfectly realized. Some scenes contain minor age related artifacts and minute traces of edge enhancement but nothing that will terribly distract. The audio is mono but nicely balanced. Extras are limited to the ‘We Must Have Music’ outtake (which would have been the film’s original finale), two deleted audio tracks and an introduction by Judy Garland biographer, Jonathan Fricke.
FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)