Poetry of Vincente Minnelli
Discuss this series with other film fans on:
This series is an Aero Theatre Exclusive!
Vincente Minnelli (1903-1986) came up through the theater,
working as a set designer and costumer on Broadway during the depression before graduating
to art director at hallowed Radio City Music Hall. He finally made his debut as a director
for the stage in 1935, shortly before leaving for Hollywood. After an aborted contract at
Paramount failed to bear any fruit, he was courted by Arthur Freed to join MGM. Once
ensconced at the MGM dream factory, Minnelli reportedly devoted himself to learning the
ropes in each department on the lot the entire first year he was there. He toiled
behind-the-scenes working his magic on many movies, including the Mickey Rooney-Judy
Garland vehicle, Busby Berkeleys BABES ON BROADWAY (1941) before being entrusted
with his directorial film debut, CABIN IN THE SKY in 1943. He made one of his enduring,
pantheon masterpieces MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS only a year later, certainly one of the
greatest, most heartfelt musicals ever made. More stunning musicals followed in the
ensuing decade, including AN AMERICAN IN PARIS and THE BAND WAGON. But
versatile Minnelli also made comedies (FATHER OF THE BRIDE, DESIGNING WOMAN) and dramas as
well. His dramas especially, from MADAME BOVARY and THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL
to THE COBWEB, LUST FOR LIFE, SOME CAME RUNNING, HOME FROM THE HILL and TWO WEEKS
IN ANOTHER TOWN, employ the same kind of detailed production design and sense of painting
on a grand canvas as his most lavish musicals, lending the fiery, often tragic
pyrotechnics on display a phantasmagorical quality that is distinctly, uniquely Minnelli.
Please join us for this all-too-brief tribute to one of the grand masters of American
cinema, an artist who painted his pictures with a camera instead of a brush.
Friday, September 1 7:30 PM
Minnelli Musical Double Feature:
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, 1951,
Warner Bros., 115 min. Director Vincente Minnellis most popular musical and
1951s Oscar Best Picture winner features irrepressible Gene Kelly as a
struggling-to-make-it painter in Paris, caught between the romantic aspirations of a
wealthy patron (Nina Foch) and his true love, the young Leslie Caron. Kelly
sings, dances and cracks wise with his smart-aleck buddy, pianist Oscar Levant
while trying to decide what to do. Also received Academy Awards for Best Screenplay, Best
Score, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.
THE BAND WAGON, 1953, Warners
Bros., 112 min. Dir. Vincente Minnelli. Brilliant backstage musical from the pen of
Comden and Green (including "Thats Entertainment" and "Dancing In The
Dark"), starring Fred Astaire as a washed-up dancer who joins forces with
megolomaniac producer Jack Buchanan (a true delight) and gal-pal Nanette Fabray.
Arguably the most modern and inventive of the great MGM musicals climaxing in the
simply mindblowing "Girl Chase" ballet between Astaire and vamp Cyd Charisse!
Saturday, September 2 7:30 PM
THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL,
1952, Warners Bros., 118 min. Known more for his stylish MGM musicals, director Vincente
Minnelli pulled out all the stops for this classic melodrama about a ruthless film
producer - Kirk Douglas as one of the movies great detestable characters -
who alienates all of those around him. Betrayals and misunderstandings in the festering
underbelly of Hollywood. Also starring are Lana Turner, Dick Powell, Barry Sullivan and
Gloria Grahame. Somewhere between Good and Evil, life and cinema, Minnelli rises to
THE COBWEB, 1955, Warners Bros., 124
min. Dir. Vincente Minnelli. At a psychiatric sanitarium, the wife (Gloria
Grahame) of the head doctor (Richard Widmark) decides the sites library
is in need of new drapes. This seemingly insignificant change sparks a conflict amongst
not only the staff members (including stubborn Lillian Gish) but with the talented,
profoundly neurotic patient (John Kerr) who was to have originally designed the
curtains. A metaphoric look at society where boundaries disappear between what is
important and inconsequential, normal and foolish. An outstanding story, with a talented
cast that also includes Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer and Susan Strasberg.
Another of Minnellis cocktails of subtleties.
Sunday, September 3 7:30 PM
Judy Garland Double Feature:
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, 1944,
Warner Bros., 113 min. Director Vincente Minnelli. Life seems perfect in St. Louis
on the brink of the 1904 Worlds Fair for the four sisters of a working class family,
until the father reveals they have to leave for New York. Adapted from a series of short
stories by Sally Benson, originally published in the New Yorker, this gem of cinematic,
picture-postcard Americana and youthful romance marked the beginning of the golden age of
MGM musicals. And the golden age for Minnelli as well. He married Judy Garland the
following year. The songs became standards (remember "Have Yourself a Merry Little
Christmas"?), and the feature was one of MGMs biggest successes after GONE WITH
THE CLOCK, 1945, Warner Bros., 90
min. Director Vincente Minnellis take on the universal boy-meets-girl story.
Off-duty soldier Robert Walker meets Judy Garland in New York. Some
sightseeing and a day later, they fall in love. One of those rare films in which Judy
didnt sing at all proved she was also capable of carrying a purely dramatic role.
Wednesday, September 6 7:30 PM
MADAME BOVARY, 1949, Warner Bros.
130 min. The second of the three film versions of Gustave Flauberts classic - after
Renoirs and before Chabrols - is probably the best of the lot. Vincente
Minnelli wanted Lana Turner for the role of the tragic, female iconoclast ruined by
scandal in provincial, 19th century Paris. But Jennifer Jones, recently
married to the pictures producer David OSelznick, triumphed over her. And she
excels admirably at being a desperate, romantic heroine, equal parts willful and
vulnerable, and bent on following her desires, consequences be damned. The irresistible James
Mason, the suave Louis Jourdan and the long-suffering Van Heflin are the
men in her life. Minnellis visionary adaptation is beautiful, moving and technically