Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

"Hollywood's most stylish director"

London's National Film Theatre is celebrating Vincente Minnelli "who directed some of the most successful films in 3 of the most successful modes of cinema: the musical, melodrama and comedy.... He is one of the screen's great colourists - even his black and white films handle tones brilliantly to evoke colour. The films are masterclasses in decoration, from his background in window dressing, fashion photography and revues and stage musicals." There is always a splash of yellow or red (or both as in Cyd Charisse's briefly seen number in THE BANDWAGON), and as I said before here (Minnelli, THE BANDWAGON labels) I love that yellow room in Jack Buchanan's townhouse, and the fabulous apartment of Rex and Kay Kendall in THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE (with those yellow and red armchairs and lamps, and those perfect green chairs), and of course the yellow LONG LONG TRAILER. Vincente too often wore a yellow jacket, as in some interviews with him.
I have the dvds but it is great to get the chance to see on the big screen the Harrisons with Sandra Dee and Angela Lansbury in THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE (written about here several times, Kay Kendall label) and Greg and Lauren perfectly cast in DESIGNING WOMAN - a key Minnelli [both already booked now]. Dolores Gray also shines here (Greg is about to get that plate of ravioli in his lap in the restaurant, below) and it also plays a lot on gender issues - the rather camp dancer friend of Bacall's saves the day at the end fighting off those gangsters and proudly shows the photos of his wife and kids! - and it has that 1950s look in spades. (The dancer friend is played by gay choreographer Jack Cole (who put Monroe and others through their paces in those great numbers he choreographed) but presumably his character could not be seen to be gay back in 1957! or maybe Vincente was playing with gender stereotypes...)

His '40s classics like MEET ME IN ST LOUIS remain so well-known (I have not seen his UNDERCURRENT from '47 though with Katharine Hepburn, Robert Taylor and Mitchum) so I am pleased to see they are showing all his films including those now little-seen delirious melodramas like THE COBWEB, TEA AND SYMPATHY, LUST FOR LIFE, SOME CAME RUNNING, HOME FROM THE HILL, TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN and 4 HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALPYSE (both 1962), THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER and the long-unseen GOODBYE CHARLE, and of course Streisand's Regency scenes (as dressed by Beaton) in ON A CLEAR DAY... Bring them on. BRIGADOON is a fond childhood Sunday afternon matinee memory, I was up close to the screen and loved those widescreen images) - pity it had to be shot on soundstages, the New York insert is a delight, and KISMET (another Sunday afternoon matinee) is more gaudy entertainment with another great turn by our favourite Dolores Gray. I have to admit though that I am less than enamoured by AN AMERICAN IN PARIS!

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