L13FC: Vincente Minnelli

Image result for gene kelly and vincente minnelli
Welcome back to Cindy’s Lucky 13 Film Club where we share comments with one another about a topic in the film industry. This is my lucky day because you are joining me on my birthday! Three cheers to Vincente Minnelli.

He was a costume and set designer in Chicago theater before he moved to New York City and was eventually hired in 1940 by producer Arthur Freed at MGM. Considered an auteur because of his style and creative control of his films, his background in theater and experience with stage sets and the use of color are trademarks of his musicals and dramatic films. According to The Gross: The Hits, The Flops by Peter Bart in 1999, Minnelli’s impact is profound in cinematic history. Vincente Minnelli directed An American in Paris (1951), Brigadoon(1954), Kismet (1955), and Gigi (1958). Other than musicals, he directed comedies and dramas including Madame Bovary (1949), Father of the Bride (1950), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), and Lust for Life (1956), Designing Woman (1957), and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1963). He passed away at the age of 83 in 1986. Nominated several times, he finally won the Best Director Oscar for Gigi in 1958. As a director, he is credited for coaxing several actors (Shirley MacLaine, Spencer Tray, Gloria Grahame, Anthony Quinn, Kirk Douglas, among others) in Oscar-nominated performances. Would anyone disagree that Gene Kelley‘s magical dancing in the fantasy-rich sets of a Minnelli film is the best offering from MGM? I think not.

What’s the allure? It’s his use of color. Vincente used Technicolor better than most directors to shape the visual information much as a theater director does for the stage. Used as a device, he created motifs and incorporated visual imagery and symbols that added a layer of complexity for all to appreciate. Contrast his colorful worlds to the real world pallet of grays, browns, and Army green from the depression and WWII. In the fifties, the battered world needed the whimsical sweetness of a Minnelli film. His films were a tonic, the relief after the hangover of war.

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One example is his decision to use the bold color of fuchsia to signify the loose morals of Shirley MacLaine‘s “easy” character, Ginnie Moorehead in Some Came Running (1958). Walter Plunkett was the Costume Designer and combined with Minnelli’s vision to illustrate the theme of acceptance and the fracture of morality in small-town America in part by use of color, it was a memorable film.

Which sequences in his films have you noticed this theatrical trick to use color to help tell the story?

Since Gene Kelly was in several Minnelli films, take a look at this tribute by Christopher Walken.

Winter Project: Richard Burton

During the winter months of January and February, I like to assign myself a male actor whose filmography I know little about. In the past, that has been Paul Newman, William Holden, Steve McQueen, and Gene Hackman. I’ll read a biography and try to understand the man within the context of his time. This year’s choice is another heavy hitter. One at the top of his game when I was a little girl, so I hardly remember the roles. I’d like to revisit his best films with fresh, older eyes. It’s time to fill in my blind spots and enjoy what made him famous in the first place. Welcome, Richard Burton.

I have seen Richard Burton on stage. In 1980 he was playing in a reprisal of Camelot in Chicago. I was president of our high school thespian troupe, and I will brag I organized the field trip to see him. I knew we were watching a world-renowned celebrity with that melodious voice even if he just stood there and didn’t do much but sing/talk his songs. I wish I could have seen him in the 1960s.

Which movie would you recommend I watch first?

IMO: 2018

2018 was like riding a temperamental thoroughbred without a saddle. An exceptional year set at a furious pace containing great and horrible events. I am exhausted. Since we have already concluded the first week of 2019, will the fast pace set up the new year as a repeat? I regret not posting enough or following your blogs to the extent you have written them. In exchange for sporadic blogging, I spent my time completing my second novel, Inside the Gold Plated Pistol. That feels very good indeed! Wish me luck as I search for an agent who might see something worthy in the narrative. A sweet cherry was given to me when Arizona’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology compiled and edited by Z Publishing House featured an excerpt from my novel (www.zpublishing.com). Inside the Gold Plated Pistol is the second installment in a six-part series chronicling new heroes of the United States from the twentieth century. It took me five years to research and write it. Good grief, I’ll be 76 by the time I finish the project. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Hurry, Cindy!

winter fire ring
Winter Fire Ring

Since “rushed time” is my theme, here are a few pictures that represent the highs and lows of 2018. Let’s go backward.

For two weeks we have been entertaining family. Our guests wanted snow. And they got it. Arizona had a couple big snow storms recently. Kids and grandkids had fun sledding and appreciating that strange white stuff in the White Mountains on the eastern side of the state. Returning to North Central AZ was problematic. On New Year’s Eve, it took eleven hours to drive through a sudden storm with blinding snow and freezing temperatures. Back home, the snow had melted and we are back to 50-degree temperatures.

The late summer and fall contained the busiest workload I’ve thrown on myself in years. I did it. But I don’t remember how.

In June I took a group to Rome and Sorrento and had a blast.

Sorrento at Dusk

After twenty-six years of being divorced, the end of April was special as I married Jim on our version of the “Love Train”.

april wedding
April Wedding

It was a dream come true to see our two sides of the family mingle in one location. It certainly was the highlight of the year.

the gross time
The Gross Time

The start of 2018 was a nightmare. In short, I was in and out of the hospital from Jan – April multiple times. Thirteen times to the E.R., tests, tests, and more tests, two surgeries, a blood clot, two long distance ambulance rides, and $158k later, I was able to return to work and finish out the school year and marry at the end of the month. My liver and gallbladder were the culprits. The disgusting details surrounding their rebellion in my body I am still trying to repress.

Hiking in Sedona in December and January is the best time to explore the canyons as it is cool and refreshing. Here’s a shot from Fay Canyon about twenty minutes from my home. This right before my body shut down.

Winter Hike in Sedona

 

I’m not much a fan of newsletters sharing all the things one has done throughout the year, but I’ve noticed bloggers like listing and recapping their year. So why not? Let me include by sharing my favorite choices of entertainment in 2018.

Isle of Dogs

Colette

The Green Book

MI: Fallout

The Last Kingdom, Season 3

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 1

A Quiet Place

Roma

A Star is Born

The Happy Prince

Most Entertaining Book: The Sisters Brothers

There you go. What was your favorite movie or book of the year?

See, there’s snow in Arizona.

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