Friday 11 May 2012


Still: John Gutmann (1905–1998)

Motion: The Band Wagon (1953); Vincente Minnelli (1903-1986)

Thursday 10 May 2012

All Girls Are Called Niña

In 1946 a campy version of the Broken Blossoms (D. W. Griffith, 1919) provided the material for a number in Vincente Minnelli's The Ziegfeld Follies, in which a setting of a London Street, standing on one of the sound stages which had been used in The Picture of Dorian Gray, becomes the set for the new musical. [1]

Up to this point, Minnelli was constantly referring to cinema in his films, but from this particular number on, it seems as if he is taking the liberty in directly quoting other films. His next musical project, The Pirate (1948), is another homage, this time to the Swashbuckler films of silent cinema, or precisely, what Minnelli envisioned of Douglas Fairbanks gymnastics and John Barrymore canned ham.[2]

Friday 4 May 2012

"Movie" Pantheon

I found this English version of Sarris' Pantheon on the Movie Reader, a book edited by Ian Cameron (London, 1972). Put together to give a taste of magazine's "politics" and strategies in 1962, when it originally appeared, the list contains many surprises:

  • John Ford of 1962 is only very talented, meaning The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence is no more than the work of a "very talented" person!
  • Hallelujah for inclusion of Argentinean Hugo Fregonese. 
  • Richard Breen wrote some average screenplays and directed only one film in 1957. How his name made it to the "talented" list, one has to see Stopover Tokyo.
  • Shirley Clarke and John Cassavetes are only competent or ambitious. Movie fails to see the new directions in American cinema.
  • Cy Endfield and Terence Fisher belong to "The Rest." No respect for commercial cinema and genre masters.
  • Sarris' "Less than Meet the Eyes" and "Strained Seriousness" are Movie's "Very Talented" filmmakers.
Explore the British Pantheon:

Thursday 3 May 2012

Paris Reimagined by Vincente

Paris appears, but all its color has been drained. It's a fickle city that will falsely enchant, then mock you. Suddenly the color is harshly splashed into the image and the spirit of the city is evoked. We [Minnelli and Preston Ames] used two identical  sketches except that one is in black and white and the other in color-placed at an angle so that they're reflected in the center black glass mirror through which we were shooting. The black and white sketch was first lighted, then gradually the color sketch comes into existence - Gene [Kelly] standing in front of it-as each segment of color is splashed onto the image to suggest the spirit of the city.