Vincente Minnelli – Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

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synopsis – AMG:
Sally Benson’s short stories about the turn-of-the-century Smith family of St. Louis were tackled by a battalion of MGM screenwriters, who hoped to find a throughline to connect the anecdotal tales. After several false starts (one of which proposed that the eldest Smith daughter be kidnapped and held for ransom), the result was the charming valentine-card musical Meet Me in St. Louis. The plot hinges on the possibility that Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames), the family’s banker father, might uproot the Smiths to New York, scuttling his daughter Esther (Judy Garland)’s romance with boy-next-door John Truett (Tom Drake) and causing similar emotional trauma for the rest of the household. In a cast that includes Mary Astor as Ames’ wife, Lucille Bremer as another Ames daughter, and Marjorie Main as the housekeeper, the most fascinating character is played by 6-year-old Margaret O’Brien. As kid sister Tootie, O’Brien seems morbidly obsessed with death and murder, burying her dolls, “killing” a neighbor at Halloween (she throws flour in the flustered man’s face on a dare), and maniacally bludgeoning her snowmen when Papa announces his plans to move to New York. Continue reading

Vincente Minnelli – The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

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Plot Synopsis [AMG]
Kirk Douglas plays the corrupt and amoral head of a major film studio in this Hollywood drama, often regarded as one of the film’s industry’s most interesting glimpses at itself. Actress Gloria Lorrison (Lana Turner), director Fred Amiel (Barry Sullivan), and screenwriter James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell) are invited to a meeting at a Hollywood sound stage at the request of producer Harry Pebbel (Walter Pidgeon). Pebbel is working with studio chief Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), whose studio is in financial trouble and needs a blockbuster hit. If these three names will sign to a new project, he’s convinced that there’s no way he can lose. But there’s a rub — all three of these Hollywood heavyweights hate Shields’s guts. He dumped Gloria for another woman, he double-crossed Fred out of a plum directing assignment, and he was responsible for the death of James Lee’s wife. All three are ready to tell Pebbel to forget it, until they hear the voice of Shields, calling from Europe to discuss the project by phone. The Bad and the Beautiful won five Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Gloria Grahame. Continue reading

Vincente Minnelli – Some Came Running (1958)

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Plot : Dave Hirsch, a writer and army veteran, returns to 1948 Parkman, Indiana, his hometown. His prosperous brother introduces him to Gwen French, a local teacher. But the more flamboyant Ginny has followed him to Parkton, where he also meets gambler Bama Dillert. Dave must come to terms with his roots and with his future. Continue reading

Vincente Minnelli – The Band Wagon (1953)

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“In Sight and Sound’s 2002 poll of the ten best films ever made, one musical made the list: Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain (1952). Without denying that film’s considerable charm, a musical released a year later (which failed to receive a single vote in Sight and Sound’s survey) may be worthier of similar hyperbolic citations: The Band Wagon. The films share several points of contact: both are backstage musicals built around songbook catalogues and produced for MGM by Arthur Freed; both have witty screenplays by Betty Comden and Adolph Green; and both feature important roles for Cyd Charisse. One may also see both films as primary examples of what André Bazin called the “genius” of the Hollywood system, in which great films are produced less through a single auteur than through a group of talented individuals working collectively with the sophisticated technical resources of a major studio while simultaneously drawing upon the rich traditions and forms of American popular culture.” Continue reading

Vincente Minnelli – Designing Woman (1957)

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Synopsis
Peck is a New York sportswriter who’s on the West Coast on assignment, doing a story about a horse race. He wakes up from a drinking binge during which he had met New York fashion designer Bacall, though he doesn’t recall it. While he struggles to recover from his hangover, she relates the events of the previous evening which included filling his latest story. He notices how beautiful she is, and they begin a brief torrid affair which leads to a hasty marriage. Of course, each is a “fish out of water” in the other’s world, which they begin to discover when they return to New York. Continue reading

Vincente Minnelli – The Clock (1945)

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Plot:

It’s wartime, and young people are rushing into hasty –sometimes unwise – marriages. But not pretty, level-headed Alice. Then she meets Joe, a G.I. on a two-day pass, and falls heart-over-level-head in love. Judy Garland and Robert Walker are sweethearts for the ages in this glowing valentine of a movie directed by Vincente Minnelli (who, to add another layer of radiant romance, was about to marry his leading lady). Continue reading

Vincente Minnelli – Yolanda and the Thief (1945)

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Plot: Johnny Riggs, a con man on the lam, finds himself in a Latin-American country named Patria. There, he overhears a convent-bred rich girl praying to her guardian angel for help in managing her tangled business affairs. Riggs decides to materialize as the girl’s “angel”, gains her unquestioning confidence, and helps himself to the deluded girl’s millions. Just as he and his partner are about to flee Patria with their booty, Riggs realizes he has fallen in love with the girl and returns the money, together with a note that is part confession and part love letter. But the larcenous duo’s escape from Patria turns out to be more difficult than they could ever have imagined. Written by Dan Navarro Continue reading