In a way, Ziegfeld Follies is kind of like Man With a Movie Camera: they’re both movies that are rather difficult to write about since neither one has a real plot. They’re both concept movies. In the case of Ziegfeld Follies, the concept is Florenz Ziegfeld (played once again by William Powell) in Heaven planning a show featuring some of the greatest film stars. The movie is a true all-star extravaganza featuring the likes of Judy Garland, Esther Williams, Lena Horne, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Fanny Brice, Kathryn Grayson, Red Skelton, and Lucille Ball in a series of musical numbers and comedy sketches like you might see in the Ziegfeld Follies.
Lena Horne is a woman who very much deserved to be a bigger movie star. She probably would have been a bigger movie star had she worked in the film industry of today, not of the 1940s. But unfortunately, she worked in movies during a time when the film industry couldn’t make full use of her talent in movies purely because she was a black woman. In 1941, Lena was performing in nightclubs when MGM composer Roger Edens saw her perform and knew he had found someone special. Edens convinced Arthur Freed to listen to her sing, Freed got Louis B. Mayer to listen to her, and Louis B. Mayer signed Lena to a seven-year contract at MGM.