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The films and career of Vincente Minnelli


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Joni Mitchell has mentioned in interviews how much she was impressed as a young girl when she saw The Story of Three Loves.

 

For those of you have haven't seen The Clock, it's a charming romantic story with Judy Garland and Robert Walker, both young, fresh, and pretty. The clock is the big clock in Grand Central Station. Garland has just arrived in Manhattan and Walker is a GI there on leave.

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Two great scream scenes starring Kirk Douglas are in:

 

"Paths of Glory"

 

* (He yells at Adolphe Menjou but good).

 

"Gunfight at the OK Corral."

 

* (He has it out with Jo Van Fleet. I thought he was having a stroke and his eyes would fall out of their sockets).

 

Gotta love him!

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Finally saw *The Story of Three Loves*. Exceeded my expectations. Leave it to Vincente Minnelli to make something of the clich? of interlocking stories ("portmanteau" it's called). Seems there were a few of these from the late 40's and early 50's (I'm thinking of *O. Henry's Full House* ), but Minnelli was just the artist to make it work.

 

It was interesting to watch the young Ricky Nelson with Ethel Barrymore and Leslie Caron. He was a pretty good child actor. And I haven't seen Pier Angeli since I don't know when - and in this film with Kirk Douglas, who was riveting. Maybe I'm saving the best for last (though it was the first story) since I've been a fan of Moira Shearer since the moment I first saw *The Red Shoes* more than 30 years ago. And James Mason, well, it's no secret what a great talent he was. Made me want to get on an ocean liner (do those still exist?)...

 

I'm saving this one.

 

Message was edited by: theladyeve

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That sounds very exciting, Eve! I haven't had a chance to watch my recording of that one yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

 

By the way, TCM is going to be showing Minnelli's Yolanda and the Thief next week, in case anyone's interested. I think it's one of his most original and beguiling musicals, even though it was somewhat of a disappointment with audiences in the 40's.

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> {quote:title=HollywoodGolightly wrote:}{quote}

> By the way, TCM is going to be showing Minnelli's Yolanda and the Thief next week, in case anyone's interested. I think it's one of his most original and beguiling musicals, even though it was somewhat of a disappointment with audiences in the 40's.

 

I watched it. It was weird, I had no idea Lucille Bremer was a singer. All I could think of while watching it was how obviously this film was made by a homosexual. I'm sure that's one reason it laid an egg in the 40's.

I have a feeling I'll like it more with subsequent viewings.

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> {quote:title=TikiSoo wrote:}{quote}

> I watched it. It was weird, I had no idea Lucille Bremer was a singer. All I could think of while watching it was how obviously this film was made by a homosexual. I'm sure that's one reason it laid an egg in the 40's.

> I have a feeling I'll like it more with subsequent viewings.

 

But Minnelli also directed a lot of movies that were commercially successful, like Meet Me in St. Louis (at least I think it was a box-office hit at the time!).

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MOST of his movies were commercially successful, I believe. They wouldn't have been coming back to him so frequently if they weren't. Just off the top of my head, "Cabin in the Sky", Meet Me in St.Louis", "An American in Paris", "The Bandwagon", "The Bad and the Beautiful", "Gigi", and "Some Came Running" all did relatively well.

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This is true, but I believe he had a bad spell from the mid-50's on, with The Cobweb (1955), The Reluctant Debutante (1958), The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962) and Two Weeks in Another Town (1962). I don't believe any of those were very successful at the box-office and may even have lost money for MGM.

 

It was not a completely bad spell, however, thanks to the success of Gigi (1959).

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  • 3 weeks later...

TCM will dedicate its schedule this Sunday to the films of Vincente Minnelli:

 

*_SCHEDULE FOR SUNDAY, JUNE 21_*

 

*Cabin In The Sky* (1943) 6am ET

God and Satan battle for the soul of a wounded gambler.

Cast: Ethel Waters, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong Dir: Vincente Minnelli BW-99 mins, TV-G

 

*Meet Me In St. Louis* (1944) 8am ET

Young love and childish fears highlight a year in the life of a turn-of-the-century family.

Cast: Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer Dir: Vincente Minnelli C-113 mins, TV-G

 

*The Band Wagon* (1953) 10am ET

A Broadway artiste turns a faded film star's comeback vehicle into an artsy flop.

Cast: Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray Dir: Vincente Minnelli C-112 mins, TV-G

 

*An American in Paris* (1951) 12pm ET

An American artist finds love in Paris but almost loses it to conflicting loyalties.

Cast: Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary Dir: Vincente Minnelli C-114 mins, TV-PG

 

*Gigi* (1958) 2pm ET

A Parisian girl is raised to be a kept woman but dreams of love and marriage.

Cast: Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, Hermione Gingold Dir: Vincente Minnelli C-116 mins, TV-G

 

*The Long, Long Trailer* (1954) 4:15pm ET

Life on the road isn't what it's cracked up to be when a honeymooning couple invests in an oversized motor home.

Cast: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Marjorie Main, Keenan Wynn Dir: Vincente Minnelli C-96 mins, TV-G

 

*The Courtship Of Eddie's Father* (1963) 6pm ET

A young boy plays matchmaker for his widowed father.

Cast: Glenn Ford, Shirley Jones, Stella Stevens, Dina Merrill Dir: Vincente Minnelli C-119 mins, TV-G

 

*Father Of The Bride* (1950) 8pm ET

A doting father faces mountains of bills and endless trials when his daughter marries.

Cast: Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, Don Taylor Dir: Vincente Minnelli BW-93 mins, TV-G

 

*Father's Little Dividend* (1951) 9:45pm ET

In this sequel to Father of the Bride, a doting father faces a series of comic trials when his daughter has her first child.

Cast: Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, Don Taylor Dir: Vincente Minnelli BW-81 mins, TV-G

 

*The Bad and the Beautifu* (1952) 11:15pm ET

An unscrupulous movie producer uses everyone around him in his climb to the top.

Cast: Elaine Stewart, Sammy White, Leo G. Carroll, Ivan Triesault Dir: Vincente Minnelli BW-118 mins, TV-PG

 

*Lust For Life* (1956) 1:15am ET

Passionate biography of painter Vincent van Gogh, whose genius drove him mad.

Cast: Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, James Donald, Pamela Brown Dir: Vincente Minnelli C-122 mins, TV-PG

 

*Some Came Running* (1958) 3:30am ET

A veteran returns home to deal with family secrets and small-town scandals.

Cast: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine, Martha Hyer Dir: Vincente Minnelli C-136 mins, TV-PG

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We watched Father Of The Bride for the upteenth time last night. I was absolutely astonished at how incredibly succinct this film is, as well as the sequel, Dividend.

Each scene is relatively short and cuts right into the next "stage", rather than dwelling. The audience gets the big laugh and it quickly changes to the next disaster.

 

Nothing is worse than a film that drags, and dragging is deadly for a comedy. Minnelli's dramas are paced a bit more leisurely, as they should be, but never drag. It seems he really understood the pace of all genres and edited superbly.

 

And I loved John Lithgow's intro. He's doing a great job, imho. Very likeable, it was a great choice for an Essentials Jr.

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Minnelli's sexual preference had nothing to do with the failure of YOLANDA. For some reason 1940's audiences couldn't take to this musical nor Minnelli's THE PIRATE. Maybe both of them were ahead of their time. Lucille Bremer (who did not do her own singing) was miscast as Yolanda She's seems too sophisticated for the innocent Yolanda. The part should have gone to someone like Pier Angeli or Leslie Caron. Alas, those two actresses weren't around at that time. Bremer was Producer Arthur Freed's girlfriend and he tried in vain to build her into a star, but somehow she left audiences cold and she made only three films for MGM before vanishing into obscurity.

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Not sure about the ahead of their time spin on it. Seen today, they both stink, imo. I'm pretty sure I would have felt the same way in the 40s. Still, I know people who love them both. I'm just not one of them. By the same token, I don't see what his sexuality has to do with anything??? Although, I do think there are certain films that are appreciated more by men who are gay. Both films may be among those. I know two films that I detest, Cukor's A Star is Born and Donen's Funny Face seem to be beloved by gay men.

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Have to disagree. Don't think any of Minnelli's films at MGM "stink." I think YOLANDA does not quite work, however the Coffee Time number is quite terrific as is the dream sequence and I would say THE PIRATE was ahead of its time. Its a much more sophisticated musical than MGM had ever produced before. I think its much more appreciate today.

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> {quote:title=Edgecliff wrote:}{quote}

> Have to disagree. Don't think any of Minnelli's films at MGM "stink." I think YOLANDA does not quite work, however the Coffee Time number is quite terrific as is the dream sequence and I would say THE PIRATE was ahead of its time. Its a much more sophisticated musical than MGM had ever produced before. I think its much more appreciate today.

 

By whom? Most people have never heard of either film.

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> {quote:title=johnm_001 wrote:}{quote}

> Not sure about the ahead of their time spin on it. Seen today, they both stink, imo. I'm pretty sure I would have felt the same way in the 40s. Still, I know people who love them both. I'm just not one of them. By the same token, I don't see what his sexuality has to do with anything??? Although, I do think there are certain films that are appreciated more by men who are gay. Both films may be among those. I know two films that I detest, Cukor's A Star is Born and Donen's Funny Face seem to be beloved by gay men.

 

Interesting the word "stink" has come up. I only EVER heard my mother (a very proper lady) use the word "stink" and it was at the end of Spirit Of St Louis. I always loved the line in Philadelphia Story, "Never say stink. Smell if you must."

 

Minelli's sexuality absolutely comes into play through his films. I worked many years in the fashion industry, the sole woman among 30 gay men. Not to stereotype, but I learned a LOT about the psyche of what appeals to them, probably because of shared experience amplification.

 

For example, quite often these men came from households with strong dominating mothers and complacent weak fathers, if present at all. They relate very strongly to the oppression Bette Davis endures in Now Voyager and her "coming out". We all do to a certain extent, but gay men grasp for any common experience to relieve their isolation.

 

Of course, these movies are enjoyed by everyone, but the themes can have special appeal to those who feel socially ostracized. I think Minelli gravitated towards these types of stories or emphasized a certain aspect in his films in accordance with his sensibility.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just got to watch Minnelli's Gigi on blu-ray - what a beautiful transfer, it really makes the movie sparkle with life in a way that was never before possible with SD video versions. The sound is great, too, of course, but I think that people who've only seen it in SD before might be surprised how much information was lost, particularly in the expressions of the actors in the long shots.

 

The movie itself is as charming as it ever was, and Caron is absolutely charming; the story may seem a bit too old-fashioned - after all this is about a Parisian bachelor having to find the guts to decide that the woman he loves is good enough to be his wife, rather than just his mistress.

 

Maurice Chevalier also brings a huge dose of old-fashioned charm to the picture.

 

By the way, the blu-ray also includes the original French version from 1949, and a nice documentary on the making of Gigi, which is helpful in explaining the censorship problems that Arthur Freed had to face, and provides some info on the Broadway production of this Lerner-Lowe musical, in which the title role was played by Audrey Hepburn.

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