Stanley Donen

(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Ballerino e coreografo, Donen giunse al cinema come regista del già famoso Gene Kelly. On The Town (1949), inspired by Jerome Robbins's ballet "Fancy Free" rivelò il suo frenetico senso del ritmo, che giunse a fare di New York stessa una sorta di grande balletto naturale. The musical was unusual in that it was filmed both on location and in the studio. It also used the musical numbers to advance the plot, a technique that Rodgers and Hammerstein had just pioneered in Broadway theaters. The story was also entirely devoted to ordinary, low-class people, without any dream for big money, big marriage, etc.

Three sailors, Gabey (Gene Kelly), Chip (Frank Sinatra) and Ozzie, have a day of leave to explore New York. They see the poster of the current "Miss Turnstiles", Heide, an everyday girl who is chosen out of the millions who take the subway every month. They have just bumped into her at the subway. Gabey is in love with her and decides to find her no matter what, following the clues that are in the poster (they actually just narrowly missed her at a subway station). Since the posters says that Heide likes museums, they decide to start with the city's museums. They take a taxi and the driver, Brunilde, falls in love with Chip and start following them. Gabey wants to look for Heide in the nearest museum and Brunilde takes them there. There Ozzie meets Claire, an anthropologist who is interested in him for a research about males that she's doing (and keeps kissing him). They accidentally destroy a dinosaur skeleton and have to run away, while the museum calls the police. Ozzie joins them in their search for Heide. Brunilda has the idea to split in three groups to be more efficient. Gabey is left with Brunilde, who immediately takes him to her place. Since the poster mentions that Heide likes music, Gabey goes to the symphony hall. Heide is in fact there, taking ballet classes. In the evening Chip takes an unenthusiastic Brunilde to the top of a skyscraper to admire the view of the city. Just then Ozzie and Claire show up at the same place. Both couples pretend they have been looking for Heide. Gabey also happens to arrive, because he has given Heide an appointment there. Gabey tells them he found her. He doesn't know that Heide's boss told her that she has to be back early, Cinderella-style. The police shows up looking for three sailors and a female taxi driver, but they hide Ozzie (hanging from the roof of the skyscraper). When Heide arrives, they head for a night club. But Heide suddenly disappears (because she has to go back to her inflexible boss). The guys decide to find another date for Gabey but the only girl who is available is the ugly and awkward housemate of Brunilde. When they leave the night club, Gabey is still dreaming of Heide. They bump into Heide's boss, who, drunk, tells them where she is: at an amusement park. Chased by the police that found them again, they head in Brunilde's taxi to the amusement park. It turns out that Heide works at night as a cooch dancer to pay for her ballet classes. The police raids the amusement park looking for the sailors. The sailors dress up like cooch dancers and start dancing in front of the police officers, but they are recognized. As they try to escape, they hide in the back of a car...: the police car. The girls win the hearts of the police officers but it is time for the sailors to leave on their ship. Con Donen il ballo diventa un fatto atletico, in spazi aperti e a velocità vertiginosa.

Singing In The Rain (1952) è il capolavoro del nuovo musical. La storia e` quella di un gruppo di attori, cantanti e ballerini che devono adattarsi alla nascita del cinema sonoro. Ma il film e` anche un affresco sociale dell'età del jazz e un quadro satirico di Hollywood ai tempi del muto. È un musical che accoppia nostalgia e ironia, una miscela esplosiva che trascina il film di numero in numero (celebri quello del clown che canta "Make them cough" inanellando gag dopo gag, il medley che parodizza sketch dell'epoca), con Kelly e Charisse a far da mattatori. In realtà gli attori non cessano mai di ballare e si esprimono principalmente tramite i movimenti, perfettamente sincronizzati con le loro emozioni.

Un produttore interrompe la registrazione di un film muto interpretato da due star e decide di farne un film sonoro. L'attore non ha problemi ad adeguarsi, ma l'attrice ha una voce orrenda e non sa cantare. Le prime prove con il pubblico danno risultati scoraggianti. L'attore, che l'attrice considera ovviamente suo, e` innamorato di una ragazza che fa lavoretti umili. Per salvare il film, lei si offre di doppiare l'attrice. Grazie alla sua splendida voce e al suo canto, il film e` un trionfo. Ma l'attrice impugna il contratto per impedire che si riveli il trucco e il vero merito. Produttore, attore e musicista approfittano pero` della sua ebete vanita': la lasciano cantare dal vivo davanti alla platea, doppiata dalla ragazza, e sul piu` bello aprono il sipario che nasconde la doppiatrice, in modo che il pubblico scopra da se` la verita'. La ragazza diventa una star e sposa l'attore. Molti balletti, colonna sonora a collage, effetti di ripresa. Brio comico, ma poca azione.

Kelly e la sua fidanzata scema formano una celebre coppia del cinema muto. Quando giunge il sonoro, Kelly si sente in crisi soprattutto a causa della totale nullità della sua partner; un amico ha l'idea di farla doppiare da una bella ragazza dotata di una bella voce e il produttore decide di finanziare un musical. Quando il film è finito, la star scopre il trucco e si infuria, ma poi si rende conto che a prendersi la gloria sarà soltanto lei e allora pretende che la ragazza continui a doppiarla e rinunci alla sua carriera. Kelly, disgustato, la lascia e si mette con la ragazza; ma la star ha i legali dalla sua parte. La incastrano facendola cantare, doppiata in pubblico e smascherandola a sua insaputa. La ragazza viene acclamata e si sposano.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) parafrasa il ratto delle Sabine ambientandolo nel Far West: sette fratelli pionieri rapiscono sette ragazze e devono poi conquistarne il cuore. Ogni vicissitudine diventa il pretesto per un balletto acrobatico, che Donen riprende con la macchina da presa più mobile della storia del musical, accentuando la sensazione di ipercinesi.

It's Always Fair Weather (1955), con musiche del giovane Andre Previn, recupera la coppia Kelly-Charisse per raccontare la storia di tre commilitoni che il giorno del congedo si danno un appuntamento per dieci anni dopo e quando l'incontro avviene non si sopportano piu`.

It's Always Fair Weather (1955) is reminiscent of On the Town. The musical numbers are quite outdated and predictable (and almost spoil the whole meaning of the film, for example when the heartless businesswoman dances like a stripper), but the story's balance of happiness and sadness is original enough to make it a populist post-war fresco of some depth.

Three soldiers who are the best of friends promised to meet again in ten years, because nothing can weaken their friendship. The ten years go by so fast that each of them hardly remembers the promise. Their reunion dinner is a disaster: they have changed so much that they can't stand each other. Ted is a failed man, a manager of boxers who makes deals with the mob. Doug is a stiff business man and is about to divorce his wife. The big-mouthed and vulgar Angie runs a small restaurant and has a big family. Luckily, a business woman, Jackie, shows up at the restaurant when they are about to leave each other forever. She is a business associate of Doug, and Ted is mesmerized by her. She is frigid and hates the attention of men, but Ted is a stubborn womanizer. Ted grabs her and forces her to listen to his sad story. She is unattracted, but her business instinct tells her that there could be money to be made out of the story of these three losers. Jackie is working on a tv show, run by the hysterical Madeleine, and thinks of airing a special about the three soldiers' reunion. Ted is thus shocked to see her walk into his gymn. Now it's the scheming Jackie who tries to use her sex appeal to conquer Ted. It works both ways: Ted risks his life by running away from fixing a boxing match, and she falls in love with him for real. The three are taken to the tv studios without being told why. Then they are introduced live on tv. Ted tells the truth: the reunion was a disappointment and they dislike each other. The show goes on, but Ted is met by the gangsters at the exit. Jackie realizes what is happening and broadcasts it live nationwide, thus exposing the mobster. Ted's old buddies join him in fighting the gangsters. For one last fistfight, they are best friends again.

Il musical Funny Face (1957) racconta in una Parigi da cartolina una favola moderna:

The middle-aged woman who leads a fashion magazine for women is dissatisfied with the magazine and decides to refocus the entire line of clothes around a novel theme: pink. She and the photographer (Fred Astaire) are looking for a more realistic setting to take pictures of their models. So they decide to invade a regular bookstore, that happens to be run by a regular librarian-looking girl (Audrey Hepburn). Ignoring her protestations, they make a mess of the bookstore. When they leave, Astaire helps Hepburn clean up and takes advantage of her naivete to kiss her. Back at the magazine, he convinces the boss to try the humble bookseller as a model for the new line of clothes, that targets the every girl. Again, despite her mild protestations, her modeling career begins. They all fly to Paris, where Astaire takes wonderful pictures of Hepburn. But she is also courted by an existential philosopher, and her bookseller's soul is attracted by his lifestyle more than by the lifestyle of the diva. Astaire and the magazine's boss try to expose the philospher for what he is, a womanizer, but fail. The big night that the collection is going to be presented Auburn finds out the truth, and runs back to Astaire. But he has already taken a taxi to the airport to fly back to the USA. Auburn is in time, however, to save the fashion event. And, of course, Astaire returns to conquer her definitively.

La stagione dei grandi musical termina con The Pajama Game (1957), commedia battibeccata protagonisti il direttore di una fabbrica e un'operaia esuberante durante una lotta sindacale.

Con Indiscreet (1958) ha inizio la sua carriera di commediografo, acuto e malizioso. La prima commedia dell'alta società ha un canovaccio classico.

Anna, a famous actress (Ingrid Bergman) who can't find the man of her life is invited by her elder sister to a banquet. She reluctantly accepts, expecting a boring event. Instead the speaker, Philip (Cary Grant), an American political expert, is love at first sight. Their love story is very romantic, but Philip tells her from the beginning that he is married and can't get a divorce. Anna accepts being only a lover, and the love story continues. Anna's brother-in-law, who is also a diplomat, confronts Philip: the report filed by the secret services state that he is not married. And so Philip confesses his strategy: he tells women that he is married so they will not ask him to get married. Anna's sister has seen the same report and can't resist: she tells Anna. Anna is furious (she was happy to be the lover of a married man, now she's unhappy to be the girlfriend of a bachelor) and decides to take her revenge. She makes him jealous by accepting the courtship of another man. She engineers a way to be caught by him in the arms of that other man, with the purpose of breaking Philip's heart and then break up. But her plan backfires, because Philip shows up with a marriage proposal. Now it's Philip who feels betrayed, because he found her with another man. But then they finally clarify the situation and get married. The film is mostly a series of dialogues between Bergman and Grant; and not terribly entertaining ones.

Surprise Package (1960) is a mediocre and often tedious comedy that parodies the international spy thrillers.

Mobsters from all over the USA gather at the mansion of boss of all bosses Nico (Yul Brynner) where they pay their dues. But Nico has been ordered to leave the country and sent back to his homeland of Greece. He decides to leave his money and his girl behind. He is deported and confined to an island, where he is welcomed by a friendly police chief, who takes him to a humble inn while a deposed king is renting the whole luxury hotel next door. He befriends local thief and the former king. The king wants to sell the crown that he took with him when he was overthrown, while an agent from the new government warns Nico that the crown belongs to the nation. Nico sends a telegram to his associates in the USA demanding that they send him the money. Instead they send him his girl, Gabby. Broke, Nico decides to steal the crown using the girl to dupe the king. In the meantime he has been approached by a Hungarian spy, Tibor, who is desperate to sell him atomic secrets for a few dollars. The envoys of the king's country think that the girl brought him the money to buy the crown. Somebody tries to kill him. Nico comes up with the perfect plan to steal the crown during a party at the king's mansion, using the thief and the spy, but a young student alerts the girl that there is a curse on the crown and that it belongs to the monastery from which it was stolen. She tries in vain to dissuade Nico. At the party the government agents knock Nico off and steal the crown, but then lose it to Tibor who is waiting outside. Both the king and Nico are desperate that the crown is lost, but Tibor is glad to give it to Gabby. Except that the government agents chase them and shoot Tibor. Tibor dies, Gabby gives the crown to the monastery, Nico proposes to Gabby, Nico and the king open a casino.

Once More With Feeling (1960), based on a 1958 play by Harry Kurnitz, is a hilarious screwball comedy.

victor is a symphony conductor. His wife Dolly leaves him alone on a night when she has to play the harp and he has to audition a child-prodigy. The child turns out to be a gorgeous girl, Angela, and the wife catches them while they are making love. Dolly leaves him. Victor cannot quite find the concentration for his work. In order to heal Victor's depression and stir expectations, his manager Max tries to engineer a reconciliation with Dolly. The arrogant Victor is confident she will rejoice (he is willing to "forgive" her) but instead Dolly tells him that she is filing for divorce. Victor has also a well-deserved reputation for a violent temper, frequently attacking the musicians of the orchestra. The symphony needs the financial support of the chairman of the board. Alas, the mother of the chairman remembers Max as a scoundrel. She instructs her son to deal with Dolly in person. victor despises the spineless tycoon but Max makes sure he behaves. Dolly does show up just in time, although for a different purpose: to tell him that she is in love with a scientist. She has a small problem: she cannot divorce him because... they never got married. Everybody thinks that there was a marriage, but actually there never was one. Therefore she cannot divorce him, therefore she cannot marry the scientist. Max the manager, who prides himself as being the greatest liar in the world, realizes that he can blackmail her into giving her support to Victor even if she hates him. They get secretely married in an empty church. Then she agrees to sleep in his house till the concert. Then he will divorce her and she will be free to marry the scientist. After the ceremony, Victor is horny and seduces his wife. The moment she undresses, the scientist arrives and, despite Victor's lies, finds her there and undressed. Dolly believes (correctly) that Victor invited the scientist on purpose to spoil her engagement to her. Victor is frustrated because the scientist spoiled his wedding night that was going so well. Max is desperate again, looking for more lies and more scheming. The scientist forgives Dolly, but Dolly does not forgive Victor: she decides to leave immediately. Right then the tycoon arrives with a three-year contract that Dolly extorted from his mother. Victor, spiteful, tells the tycoon the truth: that Dolly is divorcing him. Dolly, even more spiteful, tells Victor to shut up and sign. Victor hesitates again when he sees that the tycoon's mother requires him to play a military march that he finds debasing. It is time to go on stage for the big concert. Victor opens with the military march, a sacrifice that makes even Dolly cry (and probably conquers her heart again).

Dopo The Grass Is Greener (1960, un nobile inglese difende nel proprio castello con visita a pagamento il proprio matrimonio da un affascinante americano), Donen inventa la commedia thriller.

Charade (1964) inaugura questo filone giallo-rosa che fonde il brivido della suspense e la leggerezza dei sentimenti. E rimane il capolavoro del genere. È un thriller ingarbugliato, alla Hitchcock, con continui capovolgimenti di scena, inseguimenti spettacolari, acrobazie, gags, omicidi atroci, e un livello inesaurabile di deceits. L'atmosfera è però sempre quella della commedia sofisticata. I momenti di maggiore partecipazione si hanno quando la vedovella ingannata a tutti nn sa più a chi credere. Le molteplici personalità di Grant sono un precedente di cui Donen approfitterà in futuro.

An American woman, Reggie (Audrey Hepburn), wrapped in black is sipping her tea at a sky resort when someone points a gun at her: it is only a water gun and the hitman is a child. She is telling her French friend, Sylvie, the mother of the child, that she has decided to divorce from her Swiss husband Charles. She meets Peter (Cary Grant), an American who is also divorced. Back in Paris, where she lives, she finds a detective in her condo: her husband has been murdered. The detective interrogates her, but it turns out she knew nothing of her own husband. She has no idea why he was killed. She has no idea why he sold all their possessions the day before he was killed. She has no idea why he was trying to leave for South America. She has no idea why he was carrying multiple passports. Peter reads of the murder in the papers and goes to visit her in her empty condo. At the funeral, three odd men pay their tributes to Charles, but each seems more interested in making sure he is dead. The French detective is the only other person at the funeral. A member of the CIA (Walter Matthau) invites the widow to his office to tell her that her husband (whose name was not the one she knew) was wanted by the CIA for stealing a huge sum of money. She is in great danger because three men who were with Charles in World War II, the same three men who came to the funeral (Tex, Leopold, Herman) want the money too, and are willing to kill for it. On top of the CIA and the veterans, she is followed by Peter who is courting her, and by the French detective who still suspects her. Sure enough, each of the three veterans show up to threaten the widow. She is defended and consoled by Peter, who behaves like a real gentleman. But it turns out that he has his own agenda. He visits the three veterans, to remind them that they have an agreement, and that the girl trusts him, so he is more likely to succeed than them. But Herman (the rude one, who has an iron arm) does not trust him, so he calls the widow warns her against Peter (whose real name is not even Peter), who has taken the room next to hers. Terrified, she calls the CIA Agent (Matthau). He meets her and tells her that her husband's fortune originated from a dirty loot: five people stole a gold cargo from the partisans, one died, Charles disappeared with the money, and the other three found Charles (who was about to flee the country) and killed him, but didn't find the money. The dead man, Carson, would be Peter, if Herman is right, but the CIA agent believes that is impossible. Herman ambushes Peter and the two fight on the roof until Herman almost crashes to his death. Peter confesses that he is Carson's brother, Alexander, and that he is on a mission to clear his brother's reputation. The widow has fallen in love with him and is ready to believe anything he says. When the three veterans kidnap her friend's child, they reach an agreement: the widow and Peter/Alex give them the keys of their rooms, while the three veterans give them the keys of theirs, so they can search other rooms. Someone kills Herman while he is searching Peter's room, and, again, everybody sispects of everybody else. And, again, the French detective is clueless.
Reggie is still flirting with Peter/Alex, who seems a lot more interested in the money than in sex. When she traps him in her room against his will, he takes a shower with his clothes on. The phone rings: The CIA agent tells her that he researched Peter's claim that he is Carson's brother: Carson had no brother. Peter finally confesses that he is just a thief, and is name is Adam. Despite being lied to for the second time, and despite knowing that his real motive is just money, she continues to trust him. Another veteran (Leopold) is killed, and the third one (Tex) behaves like Peter and the widow must have the money. So Peter and the widow double their efforts and search again the belongings of the dead man. They come up with all sorts of clues, but they all fail to deliver the money.
And finally she gets it: the stamps her husband used for his last letter to her. They are worth a fortune. But she doesn't tell anyone. Tex and Peter reach the same conclusion while they are strolling in a stamp market. They both rush to Reggie's apartment to look for the letter. They find the letter without the stamps, and understand that they have both been fooled by the woman. But the woman has made a mistake herself: she gave the stamps to the child, who is at the stamp market and has just traded them for worthless stamps. Luckily, the stamp collector is honest and returns them to Reggie.
Reggie runs home, and found Tex dead in her apartment. He wrote Peter/Adam's last name before dying, and Reggie figures that means that Peter/Adam is the killer. Terrified, she calls the CIA agent and tells him about the stamps. He gives her an appointment. Peter sees her leave the building and runs after her all the way to the subway. Convinced that he is the killer, she hides from him in a phone boot, after calling the USA embassy and leaving a message for the CIA agent. Reggie doesn't see the man who receives her message at the embassy: it's another man. It turns out that the CIA agent is no CIA agent, but just someone who wants the treasure. Peter is chasing Reggie who is running towards the fake CIA agent. Peter pulls the gun and warns Reggie that the man is Carson, the fifth thief, the one whom everybody believed was dead. Reggie stops between the two: she is paralyzed and doesn't know who to believe. When they start shooting at each other, she runs and hides in an empty theater. Peter chases Carson who chases her, and (in a very Hitchcock-ian scene) he gets there just in time to kill Carson before Carson can kill her.
The following day, Peter/Adam takes her to the USA embassy, as she desires, to return the precious stamps; and is shown to an office where she finds... Peter! His real name is Brian, and he proposes to her.

Una giovane americana (Audrey Hepburn) a Parigi rimane vedova del marito. Matthau si presenta come un agente della CIA e le rivela che il defunto era ricercato per un'ingente somma di cui si era appropriato. Lei non sa nulla, ma viene perseguitata da tre criminali (uno con un braccio meccanico) che vogliono sapere da lei dov'è nascosto il denaro. L'unico a difenderla e consolarla è Grant, che però è sulla stessa pista, ma per conto proprio. Matthau le rivela che si tratta di un tesoro rubato da cinque persone ai partigiani durante la guerra: uno morì e suo marito fuggì con il malloppo, finché gli altri lo raggiunsero e lo uccisero. Grant rivela di essere il fratello di quello che morì e che il suo fine è dimostrare l'innocenza del fratello. Convinta e sedotta, la vedova semina zizzania fra i tre complici, che cominciano a sospettare l'uno dell'altro. Matthau telefona alla donna che Grant mente e infatti questi confessa di essere un ladro. Ciò nonostante lei continua a collaborare e di indizio in indizio risale ai francobolli dell'ultima lettera del marito. Ma il terzo complice prima di morire ha scritto il nome di Grant e lei, convinta che sia lui l'assassino, fugge terrorizzata da Matthau, che si finge agente americano ma non lo è. Grant lo ferma in tempo, dopo un lungo inseguimento. Matthau estrae la pistola e rivela di essere il quarto complice, creduto morto e tornato invece a far giustizia. Grant lo bracca e lo uccide in un teatro deserto. La vedova va a restituire i preziosi francobolli all'ambasciata americana e scopre così che l'agente è proprio Grant. Si sposano.

In Arabesque (1967) uno studioso, chiamato a decifrare un geroglifico, s'innamora di una bella e misteriosa orientale al punto da trasformarsi in uomo d'azione e salvare il suo primo ministro da un complotto.

It is fundamentally a Hitchcock-ian adventure thriller, reminiscent of North By Northwest, centered on an innocent and ordinary individual who gets caught up in an international intrigue. The film is also notable for John Whitney's pioneering computer effects.

An eye doctor kills one of his patients, then breaks his glasses and pulls out a piece of paper on which a cryptic message is written. The same killer attends the lecture of an expert in hieroglyphs, David (Gregory Peck). The man offers to hire David to decipher the message (an ancient Hittite inscription) on behalf of a retired general, but David replies he is busy. A little later, a sheik kidnaps him, but only to explain that he needs his help: the general is plotting to destabilize his country and he needs David to find out more. Thus David accepts the invitation to the sinister general's, who offers him a carrot (money) and a stick (he is basically kerp prisoner) to solve the enigma of the message. The general's exotic mistress, Yasmin (Sophia Loren), warns David that the general has killed a previous professor who worked on the same secret. Yasmin helps him escape but then delivers him to another group of men, who drug him to obtain the cipher from him. Still under the influence of the drugs, he manages to escape (and cause a massive car pile-up). She finds him again and tells him a pathetic story that she needs the cipher to free herself from the general's cruel tyranny. Unfortunately, the gangsters found the cipher. Another series of acrobatic adventures leads the professor to recover the cipher. He puts it in an envelop and mails it to himself. He is now wanted for a murder that he did not commit, and has to elude also the police. In the meantime, the general tell Yasmin that he wanted David to recover the cipher, so that he can decipher it. Yasmin is in charge of finding David again and bringing back to him (the general) the solution. David visits the widow of the professor who first tried to decipher the Hittite inscription: she tells him that Yasmin is the general's daughter. When Yasmin makes contact with him again, David pretends to give her the message and then follows her. He saves her from someone who tries to assassinate her with a bulldozer. Yasmin tells David that the widow is an agent working for the enemy: David can't figure out who is telling the truth and who is lying. But David has not deciphered the message yet. When he does, it turns out it is not ancient Hittite at all, but a childish riddle. David realizes that the real message is not the cipher, but the paper itself. They find a microscopic message inserted in the piece of paper that warns about a murder about to be committed that very day: the murder of the sheik. They have barely time to rush to the venue where the sheik is holding a press conference to save his life. But a second bullet does kill him in front of David. David is desperate that they failed to save him, but Yasmin has two news for him: the "sheik" was only an impersonator, hired precisely to lure the killers away from the real sheik, and... she is a spy. She now has to find the real sheik, who has, in fact, been kidnapped by the general. David and Yasmin manage to liberate the sheik and then to avoid the general's men who chased them on a combine and on a helicopters.

La serie delle commedie riprende con Two For the Road (1967, bisticci di una coppia avventurosa), il mediocre e quasi caricaturale Staircase (1968), adattamento della commedia di Charles Dyer del 1966 sulla vita "coniugale" di due omosessuali,

Two middle-aged homosexual hairdressers, Charlie and Harry, live and work together. They argue all the time. Their relationship is further complicated by Harry's sick mother, who lives with them. Charlie's mother lives in a nursing home. Charlie's wife writes that his daughter Cassie is coming to visit him. Charlie is summoned to court for an act of depravity (he dressed like a woman in public). But most of the movie is a verbose and tedious description of two intertwined existential crises. Eventually, Charlie sleeps with another man in the very bed where he usually sleeps with Harry. Harry, humiliated, locks himself in the kitchen and turns the gas on to die. Charlie saves him and they reconcile. The morning of his trial Charlie gets ready to leave. Harry asks him if he should go along. Charlie says no. But the moment he walks outside the house he starts screaming Harry's name. Harry runs and they walk towards the court together. Bedazeled (1967, parafrasi bonaria del Faust con un Mefistofele che non ha il coraggio di esigere l'anima vendutagli da un povero cuoco caduto innamorato della bella che doveva invece aiutare Faust a conquistare).

Lucky Lady (1976) è una satira bonaria del proibizionismo e dei gangster, ovvero della mitologia dei ruggenti anni Trenta. Il menage a trois fra una chanteuse rimasta vedova (Liza Minnelli), un fuorilegge disoccupato pavido e raffinato (Burt Reynolds) e un duro malinconico pregiudicato che dapprima lei tratta con astio (Gene Hackman) si trasforma in una società per il contrabbando di alcolici dal Messico agli Stati Uniti. È Hackman il cervello della banda. Dopo una missione miseramente fallita, riescono impossessandosi di un carico di alcool e prendendo il largo su un loro battello a beffare un boss che li insegue su uno yacht corazzato rispondendo alla sparatoria con bottiglie molotov che lo incendiano. Devono poi liberarsi dell'inseguimento di un guardiacoste fanatico che li attacca con mitra e cannoni.
Al termine di tante disavventure riescono a consegnare la merce al cliente. Sono ricchi e iniziano una vita lussuosa. Prendono una stanza in hotels del jet-set, in tre nella stessa stanza perché si è innamorata anche di Hackman e non vuole escludere nessuno. Il ragazzino timoniere osserva divertito, più maturo di tutti.
Lei vuole fare un altro viaggio, ma i due uomini sono riluttanti perché sono consci della fortuna che li ha assistiti fin lì. Ma alla fine, prendendoli per l'orgoglio, li convince. Riprendono con successo, costruiscono un piccolo impero. Ma il boss decide di attaccarli. Uccide il ragazzo, ferisce i due, distrugge tutto. Liza torna a fare la chanteuse. Questa volta è lei a non voler rischiare, e sono loro decisi a vendicare il ragazzo. Aderiscono al piccolo esercito di contrabbandieri che hanno deciso di sfidare la gang del boss. Cammuffati da guardia costiera, irrompono in un deposito del boss. Guidano un vero e proprio esercito di battelli indipendenti. Nella battaglia fra gli yacht degli indipendenti e i motoscafi corazzati del boss trionfano i due.

Movie movie (1978) è un altro tuffo semiparodistico nella nostalgia degli anni Trenta, accentuata dai due film dentro il film, uno gangster e un backstage musical, perdipiù in un'atmosfera strappalacrime alla Capra. Il film entra in una sala dove stanno per essere proiettati due film. Nel primo un giovane, per pagare una costosa operazione chirurgica alla sorella, decide di interrompere gli studi da avvocato e di darsi al pugilato; il vecchio allenatore ne fa un campione, ma, quando lui rifiuta di truccare un incontro, viene ucciso dai gangster; lui prende la laurea da avvocato e manda l'assassino alla sedia elettrica, mentre la sorella, guarita, sposa un altro gangster, quello redento. Nel secondo film un impresario di Broadway, condannato da una malattia mortale, decide di dedicare i suoi ultimi giorni ad allestire uno show capolavoro. Durante le prove vengono reclutati una ballerina sconosciuta e un giovane contabile musicista a tempo perso; la diva alcolizzata amante del padrone semina zizzania, al punto che l'uomo licenzia la ballerina che lo aiuta segretamente con i propri risparmi. Alla fine però la diva si rompe una gamba e viene sostituita dalla ragazza, la quale porta al successo il musical e si rivela essere la figlia dell'impresario, che muore felice.

Un collage di impeccabili stereotipi. La seconda parte è il suo canto del cigno nel campo dei balletti sfarzosi e scatenati.

Saturn 3 (1980) è un film di fantascienza ambientato in un'astronave che somiglia alla scenografia di un musical: un perfido omicida, portando con sé un robot, va a raggiungere un anziano professore e la sua bella assistente; i tre maschi, uomini e macchina, si contendono la donna fino a autodistruggersi; prima il robot impazzisce e i due uomini cercano invano di distruggerlo, il robot uccide il suo capitano assorbendone le sembianze, poi prende il comando finché lo studioso si sacrifica per trascinarlo in una voragine, liberando se non altro la donna. Un Kammerspiel cosmico straniato dall'estro figurativo che diventa una feroce lotta ad eliminazione, con il robot nei panni dell'essere più umanamente bestiale Una parabola complessa sul destino dell'umanità.

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