THE GREAT ZIEGFELD (1936)
What is it? A fictionalised and glamourised account of the life of showbusiness mogul Florenz Ziegfeld (William Powell), who started out as a carnival barker but became famous as a producer and showman, with his all-girl revues.
Why did it win? A lengthy running time gave it that oh-so-necessary epicness and heaviness, while astonishingly lavish production values pretty much dazzled the voters into going for it. Add in the fact that much of Hollywood knew Ziegfeld or at least his work, many voters had worked for him, and the always appealing chauvinism of songs like "A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody", and you've got a sure-fire winner.
Did it deserve to win? Meh, no, but it is notable as the first biopic to win the big prize, the start of another proud Oscar tradition. It was up against William Wyler's bittersweet romance Dodsworth, the star-packed Libeled Lady, Frank Capra's Mr Deeds Goes To Town and quality Dickens adaptation A Tale of Two Cities.
Worth a look? Not top of the list, no.