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Figlio d'arte (di un impresario di circo italiano), Vincente Minnelli
intraprese da bambino la carriera teatrale. Fu come scenografo e costumista di vaudeville che
arrivò a Broadway. Le sue regie teatrali si distinsero subito per la finezza di gusto e la
modernità quasi surreale del design. Nel 1940 venne assunto da Freed a Hollywood e
esordì alla regia cinematografica con
Cabin in the Sky (1943), in cui Dio e il Demonio si danno battaglia per
l'anima di un giocatore d'azzardo.
The musical Cabin in the Sky (1943) is an allegorical fable
set in a black rural community among simple, everyday folks.
It's a minor movie, with a rather lame plot.
Joe is a gambler who just cannot resist the temptation. His good wife Petunia
prays God to make him stronger and in fact Joe decides to abandon his sinful
life and get a job as an elevator boy. He is on his way to church, where he
is expected to repent publicly, when a bunch of cohorts talk him into
gambling just one more time to pay his debts. Instead, he gets shot. As he is
lying in his bed, a Demon and an Angel argue over his body. Petunia prays God
to give her one more chance to redeem him, and eventually wins her case:
Joe is returned to life, determined to change life.
The demons led by Lucifer Jr have set their headquarter at the nearby hotel
and have a new strategy to damn Joe: make him rich, and let him fall into
the grips of notorious femme fatale Georgia. All it takes is one phone call
to Lucifer Sr, and Joe the lottery. Georgia is the one who brings
him the good news, and Petunia finds them hugging. Petunia, thinking he
betrayed her, is hurt to the point of kicking him out.
Petunia basically throws Joe into the arms of Georgia. Joe spends the money
at the saloon and on Georgia. One evening Petunia shows up at the saloon.
A changed woman, now she wants half of the money and flirts with Joe's sworn
enemy, Domino. The demon and the angel watch the development with anxiety:
it is not clear yet who will win Joe's soul. Joe and Domino fight, while
a storm destroys the saloon. Domino shoots Petunia and then Joe. They both
die and show up at the gates of paradise. Petunia is admitted, but Joe is not.
Lucifer is already celebrating when the news comes that Georgia has repented
and given all her money to the church. Petunia implores God to give Joe
another chance. And Joe wakes up: it was all a dream. The first thing he
does is burn the lottery ticket, to make sure he won't get rich.
Il musical Afro-americano Halleluja
è una favola che astrae il folclore della comunità di colore: gravemente ferito mentre
giocava ai dadi, un uomo sogna di essere alla soglia dell'altro Mondo e che Bene e Male si contendono la
sua anima e ovviamente, dopo diversi spaventi, se la cava. Il fatto saliente è il tono nuovo di
Minnelli, un tono che sconfina nell'onirismo e nel nonsense, un'atmosfera rarefatta e ricercata, una
fantasia sofisticata. Muore il concetto classico che voleva il musical come un'esile trama narrativa per
tenere insieme numeri solisti o corali spettacolari per musica e colori.
Nasce il concetto di uno spettacolo nel suo insieme, del quale canzoni e balletti
sono parte naturale e integrante. Nel suo insieme lo spettacolo di Minnelli attinge in egual misura a
fantasia e realtà, collocandosi in tal modo in un limbo semireale, estremamente stilizzato, dove
l'aspetto figurativo è il vero tema unificante di trama e numeri.
I Dood It (1943) is a very minor musical.
Meet Me in St Louis (1944) è un tour de force del talento elaborato da
Minnelli. St Louis diventa un luogo astratto dove tutte le situazioni sono
semplici ed esplicite, un piccolo concentrato di umanità sorridente e
felice. È un'apologia della vita provinciale di
Minnelli rivela, oltre al gusto figurativo, una calda, umana sensibilità per il
melodramma borghese e una capacità di far leva sulle nostalgie per i bei tempi andati.
nostalgia è proprio l'alibi di tutta la messinscena, di per sé storicamente falsa e comunque
La nostalgia è la protagonista del film, che nel suo insieme sembra un album di foto.
La trama è in effetti evanescente, ma è infittita di episodi
teneri e struggenti
che creano l'immagine affettuosa della cittadina americana di provincia.
Nella cittadina fin-de siècle un manager viene promosso
e deve trasferirsi a New York, ma le quattro ragazze, il ragazzo, la madre, il nonno, la cuoca finiscono per
convincerlo a rinunciare.
Nel frattempo assistiamo alle schermaglie di due sorelle
con alcuni giovanotti locali.
Minnelli surpassed himself with Yolanda and the Thief (1945), a baroque
and oneiric musical, a fairy tale set in an enchanted land, based on a story
by Ludwig Bemelmens and with music composed by producer Arthur Freed.
The fictional South American country is introduced by an old teacher who
lectures a group of children in a meadow. The camera shifts towards the town
to show this sort of Utopia where everybody is nice and smiling, and settles
on the convent in which the nuns and the other pupils are celebrating both
the birtday and the graduation of Yolanda, the only daughter and heiress of the
wealthiest family in the country. Yolands is so attached to the convent that
she is not excited at all about leaving and entering the real world.
One man who has a different view of the country is Johnny (Fred Astaire), a
criminal who is not excited at all to settle in such a provincial and quiet
place but has no other choice because it's the only country that will not
extradite him. On the train he and his partner in crime Victor
learn that the richest person in the country is actually the single girl who
is traveling on the same train. Then they read in the newspaper about Yolanda's
enormous wealth. And Johnny gets interested.
Yolanda arrives to her palace. Her aunt (who has been running the estate)
welcomes her as the new boss, but Yolanda is scared by the new responsibility.
She prays to the statue of the Madonna for help. Johnny has entered the
garden and overhears her prayer. He later calls her and pretends to be her
guardian angel who is responding to her prayer. Yolanda, innocent and gullable,
does not doubt him. That night Johnny has a nightmare (a lengthy ballet
in a surreal landscape) that shows him falling in love with Yolanda.
He visits Yolanda at the palace and her aunt, who didn't even want to let
him in, is totally fascinted by him. Johnny has no trouble convincing Yolanda
to sign the papers that gift her entire forture to him.
He puts them in a bag and throw it to Victor in the garden, but the bag
his Victor in the head and knocks him out. A myserious man in a suit and tie
steals the bag. But Johnny and Victor find him at the hotel and rescue the
bag.., a bit too easily. Later they see the mysterious man talking to Yolanda's
aunt and, fearing that he is turning them in, they elope on a taxi towards
the train station. The mysterious man has in fact told the aunt that Yolanda
is going to marry Johnny. The aunt is ecstatic and congratulates Yolanda,
who is puzzled and... ashamed. She prays to the Madonna that she has no
impure thoughts for the angel (but it is visible that she actually does).
The taxi breaks down and Johnny is rescued by the police. Johnny and Victor
are brought back to the town and they think they are going to be arrested.
Instead, they are welcomed by a festive crowd. Johnny is pushed into the
arms of a shameful Yolanda, who still believes him an angel.
Johnny is moved by her love. He tells her that now he has to go back to
paradise. She even kisses him. Then at the hotel he writes her a letter
to explain everything and return all her money. On the train they are notified
that they are going to be arrested as soon as they cross the border.
The mysterious man shows up again and suggests that the only way to avoid
jail is to get off the train and remain in the country with no extradition.
Sure enough the train has to go back because of a fallen bridge.
The mysterious man even knows that Johnny has returned the money.
They suddenly realize that the mysterious man is... the real
guardian angel of Yolanda. He orders Johnny to marry Yolanda.
The Clock (1945) is a realistic comedy, but it lacks any depth or
purpose, merely indulging in the theme of the individual alone in the crowd.
A soldier, Joe, arrives at the train station in New York for the first time.
He is on a two-day leave and doesn't quite know where to start.
He accidentally meets Alice (Judy Garland), a working girl whose shoe has lost a heel.
She takes him for a brief tour of the city. When she has to take the bus to
go home, he starts running after it to ask her for a date. She tells him to
meet her in the evening at the clock of a hotel. But then her housemate talks her out of it.
Joe waits for hours and is about to leave when she finally shows up, feelings
having prevailed over wisdom. Thus begins a long night. They dine, walk and
chat and kiss. They eventually meet a milk man who gives them a ride. When
he is hit by a drunk, they deliver the milk for him. Grateful, he invites him
to his house where his wife cooks breakfast for them. Later they are trying to
take the subway and are separated by the crowd. They desperately search for
each other but in vain. Eventually they both have the same idea: they return
to the hotel where they met for the date. They are so happy to be reunited that
they decide to get married right away, before Joe has to report back.
Bureaucracy requires a blood test and they only have a few hours left.
They finally manage to reach the judge before he goes home and get married
while a noisy train runs in the background. It is not the most romantic
and afterwards they are disappointed. The following morning they have to
part, and they are just one of the many young couples in that situation.
And when she walks outside she is just one of the many people outside.
Between these films that made him famous, Minnelli also directed the thriller
Undercurrent (1946), full of suspense but a bit overlong and with
a wildly implausible ending.
Ann (Katharine Hepburn), the only daughter of a widowed scientist, is still
unmarried, despite being romanced by her friend Joe, a fact that worries her
affectionate housekeeper Lucy.
When a charming and famous tycoon, Alan, comes to visit her father about a
formula of his, she falls in love for the first time in her life.
They get married and he introduces her to the life of the rich.
One day she learns from an old friend of his mother that he has a brother,
She soon learns to behave like a lady and her love for him only increases.
Michael. He tells her that Michael stole money from him when they were partners
in business and then disappeared after their mother died. Alan confesses that
he hates Michael more than anyone else. One day a bookseller
hands her a book that he had been asked to bind, thinking it is her husband's.
She loves it but it was actually Michael's, and Alan is furious when she
memorizes one of the poems. She is excited when he finally takes her to visit
the family mansion where he grew up. One day she plays the piano and Alan
gets upset again: he tells her that his mother was playing that piece when she
died. But minutes later the faithful servant tells her that the woman died in
her bed. She extorts from him the truth: it was Michael who used to play the
piano. She realizes that Alan has been trying to completely erase any memory
of Michael from his life. She tries to be nice to Sylvia, a childhood friend
of Alan, if nothing else because they look so alike, but Sylvia is inquisitive
and hostile, hinting that Michael might be dead and that Alan might be
responsible. Alan's employees don't want to talk about Michael,
obviously because they have been ordered so. Ann takes advantage of her husband
going on a business trip and travels to the ranch that used to be Michael's
ranch. She meets the caretaker (Robert Mitchum) and is fascinated by Michael's
home. Suddenly her husband Alan shows up: he interrupted his business trip when
he heard of her intentions. He is furious that she is trying to find out more
about Michael, as if he were jealous of him. Ann begins to suspect that Alan
was in love with Sylvia, but Sylvia betrayed him for Michael, and then Alan
married Ann because she reminded him of Sylvia. Alan denies everything, but
Ann decides to visit Sylvia and ask her. Sylvia gives her a completely different
portrait of Michael: a gentleman, not a playboy, and the last person who would
be interested in money. Sylvia tells Ann that Michael disappeared after one
last meeting with Alan at the ranch. Michael never even wrote to his best
friends, a fact that contradicts his nature. Thus Sylvia believes that Alan
murdered him. Ann leaves outraged, but the suspicion has entered her mind.
When Alan tells her that he is planning a trip for the two of them alone,
Ann fears for her own life. Unbeknownst to her, Michael meets Alan at their
house, for the first time in years: Michael is the man whom Ann mistook for
the caretaker of the ranch. Michael tells Alan why he disappeared:
he had found out that Alan killed the engineer (a poor German refugee) who had
made a major discovery and had then taken credit for the invention, the very
invention that had made him rich. Michael couldn't face the truth and enrolled
in the army. Alan begs Michael: he truly loves Ann and doesn't want to lose her.
Michael is willing to keep out of their life only if Alan tells Ann the truth,
and Alan promises to do so.
(If Michael never did anything wrong to Alan, it is not clear why Alan always
hated him so much).
Instead Alan accuses Ann of having fallen in love with Michael (even though
she has never met him, or at least doesn't know of having met him). Ann is
scared again and tries to run away. Alan stops her. The neighbor, riding a
horse, arrives just in time to save her. The neighbor invites them to
breakfast at her house and they accept to ride their horses along her.
(It is not clear why Ann doesn't simply ask for help). Along the way Alan
finds a way to be left alone with Ann and tries to push her down a cliff
and then to crush her head with a boulder but his horse (that used to be
Michael's horse) goes mad and kills him just one second before he kills her.
(A rather implausible coincidence). Michael finally reveals himself to Ann
and Ann learns the whole truth. They play the piano together. (Alan was
right after all about Ann's falling in love with Michael).
Di ambiente esotico è anche il mediocre musical The Pirate (1948), intriso all'inverosimile di
colori, il cui canovaccio brioso e allegro si lascia nuovamente andare alla nostalgia
At the time of the pirates in the Caribbeans a romantic girl, Manuela
(Judy Garland), dreams adventure and romance, fascinated by the legendary pirate
Macoco, but her aunt has found her a rich (albeit obese and boring) suitor,
Don Pedro, the mayor of the town, who has the reputation of being a saint.
Before leaving for Paris with him, she begs her aunt to take her to the
Caribbean sea, so she can dream one last time of a life that she will never
live. There she meets a comedian who has just arrived with his company,
Serafin (Gene Kelly). Serafin falls in love with her, but she is just annoyed
by his attentions. During a show he hypnotizes her and she reveals her secret
love for Macoco. The day of the wedding he climbs to her room and tries to
steal her away. Pedro finds them and is about to exact his revenge when Serafin
recognizes him: Pedro is nothing but the legendary Macoco. Serafin was the only
survivor of a ship that Pedro attacked. Macoco implores him to keep the secret:
he is now a good citizen, aging, coward. Serafin realizes that he can take
advantage of the once deadly Macoco. Knowing that Manuela admires Macoco,
Serafin pretends to be Macoco and the one who knows that he is lying, Pedro,
cannot speak up or he would lose his reputation, his job, his fiance.
He announces to the entire population that the town is surrounded by his men
and that they will raid it if he is not allowed to take Manuela with him.
Manuela, who was never enthusiastic of becoming Pedro's wife, does not mind
being the victim of Macoco and therefore becoming the protagonist in real life
of the romantic adventure she always dreamed of. But she finds out that he
is merely pretending of being Macoco to take advantage of her. During this
distraction Pedro calls for reinforcements and the viceroy in person arrives
with the troops. They arrest Serafin, who tries in vain to prove his innocence:
Pedro has filled his luggage with the jewelry that Macoco stole over the years.
Serafin is sentenced to death. The execution is delayed because Serafin
has one last request: to perform for the viceroy. In the meantime Manuela
has seen the Macoco's loot and realized that her wedding ring, received from
Pedro, was part of a set that is in that loot. During his number Manuela,
pretending to be hypnotized, confesses her love for the pirate Macoco.
Pedro does not resist and betrays himself: he protests that he, not Serafin,
is the real Macoco. Thus Serafin is safe and the two lovers sing the last
song dressed like clowns.
Nei Caraibi, al tempo
dei pirati, vive una ragazza romantica (Judy Garland) che sogna l'amore ma è promessa a un ricco
antipatico, obeso e vigliacco.
La seduce un commediante vagabondo (Gene Kelly) che si fa credere un feroce
pirata e minaccia di radere al suolo la città se non gli verrà consegnata la bella, la quale
è ben lieta di essere la vittima.
Il riccone è in realtà il vero pirata, ma non potendo
smascherare l'impostore, lo accusa di furto.
Condannato a morte, il saltimbanco viene salvato dalla
ragazza che scopre la vera identità del riccone.
I due innamorati eseguono l'ultimo numero vestiti
da clown, un inno ai comici girovaghi che con due smorfie fanno ridere una platea.
Seconda prova della "commedia ad inganni", il film si affida alle acrobazie di
Kelly, alle battute spiritose (e provocanti) della Garland e alla parodia: del mondo dei filibustieri,
dell'operetta esotica, della recitazione melodrammatica. Con questo musical Minnelli spalanca le porte
dell'immaginario: i personaggi sono gente umile piena di difetti (il guitto impostore e seduttore, il pirata
vile e stupido, la bella un po' morbosetta) e l'ambiente è duecento anni indietro e mille miglia
lontano. Alla fine è il trionfo dello spettacolo, del suo genere più umile: quello di
Madame Bovary (1949) is a lavish adaptation of the Flaubert novel but the story is deprived of the novel's psychological power.
Con Father of the Bride (1950) Minnelli si rivelò anche un
commediografo popolare e sensibile, non solo stilista comico.
Stanley, a good hardworking father (Spencer Tracy) reminisces how he got to the
wedding of his daughter. One day he went home to find his daughter Kay in love
with a nice young man, Buckley, and determined to marry him. He is shocked
and hurt because he feels that nothing will be the same again between him and
his daughter. But he soon adapts to the idea and makes friend with the boy's
parents. Now that the marriage is approved, Kay casually mentions that she
wants a small wedding. Her mother, Ellie, protests that she wants a nice
wedding for her daughter. Stanley is also in favor of a small wedding, but
Ellie tells him how sorry she was that she couldn't have a nicer one when she
married him. He goes along with his wife's plans, that get more and more
ambitious... and expensive. They are a well-off family, but Stanley is a
prudent man and doesn't like to spend the money he has saved. Ellie is
the one determined to spend everything they own, if necessary, to give their
daughter the wedding she didn't have. Stanley is now resigned. But one day
Kay comes home to announce that the wedding is cancelled: she has dumped
Buckley. Stanley is almost happy, but it turns out it is a silly argument.
They kids are soon in love again and the wedding (a majestic one)
takes place as planned. The crowd is so big that Stanley doesn't get a chance
to say goodbye to his daughter before the newly married take off.
He is now also resigned at having lost his daughter. But she calls from the
railway station just to say hello to him, and he's happy again, dancing alone
with his wife in their big empty home.
The comedy predates Chayefsky's populist drama The Catered Affair (1956).
The difference is not only the setting but also the mood: here Minnelli
toys with nostalgy and good humor, and finds a happy ending in the neverending
cycles of life.
La saga familiare sarà continuata con Father's Little Dividend (1951), in cui nonno Tracy detesta il nipotino finché questi non scompare.
Il secondo capolavoro "leggero" di Minnelli è
An American in Paris (1951),
si esaltano il cromatismo dei costumi (derivato dai pittori francesi), la stilizzazione del paesaggio (una
Parigi da favola), i virtuosismi dei ballerini. La trama è la quintessenza della banalità: un
pittore americano è corteggiato dalla sua ricca mecenate ma si innamora di una ragazza monella
che è amata da un musicista incompreso, amico del pittore. Lo spettacolo sta nei numeri di ballo,
nei trucchi di montaggio e nelle complesse messe in scena.
An American in Paris is notable also for the surrealistic 17-minute ballet sequence, and for the score by George and Ira Gershwin.
The Story Of Three Loves (1953) was a romantic divertissment.
The passengers on a cruise boat tell the stories of their fondest loves.
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) was his first drama, an experiment
in cinematography (with frequent nods to Orson Welles, thanks to cinematographer John Houseman) and storytelling
(the plot is told through a number of flashbacks by several people).
The protagonist is a bad man, a man with no scruples who takes advantage
of his best friends to fulfil his egocentric desires; another titanic
negative hero a` la Citizen Kane.
It was one of the self-reflective films of the era that exposed the
behind-the-scenes lifestyle of the world of cinema:
Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950),
George Cukor's A Star is Born (1954),
Joseph Mankiewicz' The Barefoot Contessa (1954),
Robert Aldrich's The Big Knife (1955), etc.
A Jonathan calls from Paris.
He wants to talk to the director of a movie, Fred,
who is shooting on a stage (the first two scenes are Orson Welles-ian in the
way they show the man picking up the call and the director on his gyraffe
descending on the actress), but the director pretends he's not there.
He then calls a Georgia (Lana Turner) who is getting dressed
(and we see the transition from the black maid who
picked up the call to the mirror in another room to Georgia who is putting
a veil on her head to another mirror that finally reflects her face) and she
too pretends she's not home.
The same Jonathan then calls a man who is typing frantically on a typewriter,
Jim, but this one hangs up on him.
Georgia, Jim and a Fred visit Harry
Harry congratulates Jim on winning an important literary prize and then explains
why Jonathan was trying to contact them: Jonathan is a producer and wants to
make a new movie, written by Jim, directed by Fred and starring Georgia.
Harry knows that they all hate him and sympathyzes with them.
Fred talks about him in a flashback, starting at a funeral
eighteen years back. At the end of the funeral of his own father,
Jonathan (Kirk Douglas) handed
out money to the people attending the funeral: they had been hired to pretend
they were mourning; but Fred was not mourning at all, since he knew what a
bastard the dead man (an influential Hollywood figure) had been. Jonathan
confesses that his father had left nothing.
The two became friends.
At a party they saw Harry playing poker. Jonathan convinced his friends
(that now included Fred's girlfriend Kay) to raise money for him to play
poker with Harry. And he lost a fortune. To pay for it he offered to work
as a producer at Harry's studios (when most people would beg Harry for a job).
The tactic worked and he got the job as producer. Fred and Jonathan were
successful with their first movie. One night Jonathan drove to the abandoned
mansion of the man who raised him, a famous theatrical actor in the old days.
They found his daughter Georgia crying alone in the dark, drunk. She was mourning
and cursing his father at the same time. She kicked them out.
Fred had a great idea for their next film, and Jonathan stole it. When a
famous Latin actor accepted the lead role, Jonathan dumped Fred for another director.
The film was a success and launched Jonathan's career.
Now Georgia starts talking about Jonathan through another flashback.
Five years after their first meeting, Georgia applied for a minor role in a
movie. Jonathan liked her and followed her in her spartan apartment.
She is an alcoholic and may have a past as a prostitute (given how prompty
she sits on his lap). He is brutal but convincing. She is redeemed and, while
a terrible actress, trusts Jonathan who sees something in her.
She is a no show at the first shooting but Jonathan goes to pick her up,
drunk, and throws them in his pool. She falls in love with him and he instills
self-confidence into her. She is the protagonist of the new film and
everybody loves her. She is disappointed that he doesn't show up at her
party to celebrate with her. He accomplished his task of creating a new star,
and has no real interest in her as a woman. In fact, he's already sleeping
with another woman, aspiring actress Lila. He loses his temper, wanting to
humiliate him while sounding afraid of her power over him. He sounds angry
at himself for being himself. She leaves in tears, gets in the car and drives
madly on the highway, risking her life (the camera virtuosistically
floats over and around her).
The third flashback, by the writer, starts when his first novel has just
been published and the rights have been purchased by a Hollywood studio.
While he is more interested in writing his second novel,
his frivolous wife Rosemary is excited about going to Hollywood.
To get Jim's full attention without any distraction, Jonathan does not hesitate
to ask the studio's Latin star to seduce his naive wife Rosemary.
Tragedy strikes: the Latin man takes Rosemary for a flight on a private plane,
and the plane crashes killing them both. Jim learns of the accident from the
newspapers. And then he has to bear the humiliation of the reporters hoping
to unveil an affair between the two.
Jonathan makes him work day and night on the script for his most expensive
film ever. Jonathan does not like the director and eventually fires him.
Then he himself directs the remaining scenes, but he is the first one to
admit that he butchered the script, and asks Harry not to release the film.
This would mean bankruptcy for him.
Jim is the only one to stand by the fallen producer. But the fallen producer
is still the same ugly soul, who does not hesitate to tell him the truth about
his wife's infidelity, how he (Jonathan) caused it, how she liked it and
how he (Jim) deserved it. Jonathan even tells Jim that he should be happy
his wife is dead because the dumb woman was a liability in his career.
The three flashbacks showed why each of them hates Jonathan. But they also
showed how Jonathan made each of them a success. They would not exist without
him. And, after all, Jonathan's cynicism and brutality simply exposed
their weaknesses. Once they were removed (no matter how cruelly),
their career was enhanced.
So Harry begs them to work with Jonathan one more time. He calls Jonathan
in Paris. Georgia walks out and the other two follow. However, outside they
can hear Harry's comments to Jonathan's proposal (they never hear Jonathan
himself) and all three can't resist the temptation to learn more about
it. After all, they all remember when they met Jonathan as one of the most
exciting time of their life.
Minnelli diresse anche una versione del classico "backstage musical"
The Band Wagon (1953), un'altra produzione spettacolare..
Astaire è un anziano ballerino ormai dimenticato a cui viene offerta
un'occasione per risorgere, un musical al fianco di un attore presuntuoso e di una giovane e permalosa
ballerina (Cyd Charisse); il primo trauma il copione in una tragedia e la seconda litiga con Astaire che
appartiene a un'altra generazione; la prima è un fiasco, ma Astaire decide di prendere il timone e,
con il testo originale, lo spettacolo ha successo e la ragazza si innamora del partner.
I numeri storici non
si contano: l'inno sarcastico al mondo dello show (That's Entertainment), la farsa in costume da
poppante (Triplets), la satira finale del romanzo poliziesco (Girl hunt), e la scena di
Dancing in the Dark. Il messaggio del film è
palese: lo spettacolo non deve essere colto e forbito ma gaio e spensierato, come vuole la generazione dei
Venne poi la volta di una versione cinematografica di un altro classico di
un musical del librettista Alan Jay Lerner e del musicista Frederick Loewe,
favola musicale che torna a far
leva sulla nostalgia. Due giovani americani scoprono per caso in Scozia un villaggio di campagna rimasto
fermo nel tempo; si fermano per un giorno e Kelly si innamora di una bella ragazza; ma scopre allora che
il paese vive un giorno al secolo e in poche ore tutto sarà finito; Kelly a malincuore deve tornare a
New York; ma non riesce a dimenticare la vita semplice e serena del villaggio e la poesia di quella
ragazza; infine decide di tornare e trova il modo di passare nell'altra dimensione. Tutto il film è
immerso in un'atmosfera di sogno. Il dramma è raccontato con acuta sensibilità e il
contrasto fra la vana stupidità degli amici di New York e l'Eden incontaminato non potrebbe
generare nostalgia più struggente.
The Long Long Trailer (1954) is only a (very minor) vehicle for a series of
comedy sketches between a husband and a wife about she convinces him to
buy a trailer and the trailer turns out to be the cause of one disaster after
A questo punto dopo il musical esotico Kismet (1955) Minnelli si
convertì al cinema drammatico.
The Cobweb (1955), based on a novel by William Gibson, is, on the
surface, a drama of people who are in conflict with each other (hence the
"web"), with some intrigue and ambition adding to the main plot.
Anger is the main emotion flowing throughout the story.
However, the film is overflowing with subplots. There are
complex scenes with people coming and going and listening without talking.
The personalities of Karen and Meg are better analyzed than the one of
Stewart, who comes through as a monodimensional character, a force of nature
tightly associated with the clinic, basically just an offshoot of the clinic.
This war of the drapes, that could be the subject of a tragicomedy, is used
to highlight how everybody is a psychiatric case, to an extent. The best
metaphor to summarize the film is Karen's assessment that
the difference between doctors and patients is that patients get better
(she only forgets to include herself in the category of the ones who don't
A woman gives a shy introverted kid a ride. It turns out that the kid,
Stevie, is a patient at a psychiatric clinic run by a
doctor, Stewart (Richard Widmark).
The stern administrator Vicky is checking new drapes when she is asked
to help deal with a patient.
The woman of the first scene turns out to be Karen, Stewart's wife, and
the kid is a patient, full of hatred for the rich, who vents his anger by
insulting her with her husband, when in fact he's just sexually attracted
When Stewart gets back home, Karen is on the phone chatting with a friend.
She has a social life that Stewart totally ignores. She tries to tell him
that she just had a great idea about the drapes, but instead Stewart starts an argument,
accusing her of flirting with one of his patients, the boy. This way he never
hears of the great idea, and doesn't show any interest in hearing it later.
Karen gets dressed for the concert they are supposed to attend. She has been
looking forward to it for a week, probably one of the few social occasions
that she is offered. But Stewart has an important meeting at the clinic, and
leaves Karen alone. The patients are demanding to decide the new drapes.
At the concert and subsequent party Karen receives a call from her friend
Regina. She is excited and immediately calls Vicky. Vicky has a bad opinion of
Regina, who happens to be the chairman of the board. Regina wants to decide
the drapes too, and Karen is on her side. Vicky is only concerned about saving
money, and is angry at Karen's trying to influence the decision. Karen hangs up
even angrier, while Vicky calls the drape salesman and buys the cheapest kind.
Karen finds consolation in the clinic's director, Dev, who invites her
to a date. At the end of his meeting Stewart reproaches a nurse who has
spied on a patient and found where he hides his alcohol: Stewart thinks that
even patients are entitled to privacy. His coworker Meg (Lauren Bacall)
overhears but doesn't say anything.
The following morning Stevie thanks Meg for helping the patients with their
drapes project. They exchange stories of their past. Meg's
husband and son were killed in a car accident. Stevie suspects that she
sees him as a substitute for her dead son, and tells her that he
broke down when his mother died (his father ran away when Stevie was a child),
i.e. that she can be his new mother. Stevie is designing the new drapes,
and Meg shows his designs to Stewart, who likes them.
Stewart, finally concerned about his wife, calls her to make an appointment
and chat, but this time it's Karen who doesn't have time: she is going out
with Dev. Later, though, Meg realizes that Vicky has already ordered
Stevie likes a girl who is phobic. She would like him to heal her and is
willing to be patient.
Meg confronts Vicky about the drapes, and Vicky gets hysterical, thinking that
Meg is siding with Karen and Regina.
Meanwhile Dev consoles Karen, who talks about her loneliness and
Meg tells Stewart about the incident with Vicky, and Stewart phones Vicky to
clarify the issue. Vicky angrily tells him that Karen has something to do
with the drapes, and it's the first time that Stewart hears about it.
Then she hangs up. The only way to talk to Vicky is for Stewart to physically
break into her house. Stewart is the only one who can talk sense into her,
despite her hysterical attitude (she doesn't look much saner than the patients).
For her the war of the drapes has become a matter of state, but Stewart flatly
tells her that he sides with Meg's project to let the patients design them.
She seems to sincerely have the interest of the clinic at heart, but at the
same time it has something personal. She is the daughter of a pioneer who
fought the "Indians" to settle the Far West. She seems to view both patients
and staff as the "Indians" to be civilized. Stewart tells her that they can
get along only if she accepts "unconditional surrender", an ironic reference
to her father's battles.
Back home Stewart argues angrily with Karen when she tells him that she
discussed the drapes with Dev. Stewart describes Dev as yet another
psychiatric case: a womanizer. She is hurt to hear him belittle the only
person who has been willing to listen to her (indirectly, it's another insult
to her intelligence). She vents her frustration to him, and he promises to
Dev is formally the head of the clinic, but Stewart just told Vicky that
he is. Vicky confronts Dev and demands to know the truth. Dev admits it,
and admits that nobody else knows.
She looks heartbroken. It almost sounds like Vicky the steely spinster herself
may have been a
victim of Dev' seductive powers at some point in the past.
When she leaves, Dev is melancholy for a while, contemplating the decline
of his career. Then he calls his young blonde secretary (with whom he's had
an affair) and dictates a formal order in favor of Regina's idea and opposed
to Meg's project. He then drives to Karen's and tries to kiss her, but she
asks him to leave.
When Steward learns about Dev's order, he angrily revokes it. Dev is holed up
in a motel room with his secretary, who tries in vain to talk sense into him.
Even drunk as he is, Dev is plotting against Stewart.
He asks Regina to fly down for an urgent meeting, and then asks Vicky to write
a report against Stewart for the upcoming meeting of the board of trustees.
Vicky coldly hangs up without replying.
A meeting between Stewart and the patients about the drapes crisis
is interrupted by Karen's phone call: she begs to talk to him about them,
but he hangs up because the meeting is more important to him.
Instead of rushing back home where his wife is waiting for him, Stewart
spends some time in Meg's office chatting about life and work.
In the meantime Stevie has finally convinced his girl to go to the movies,
thus healing her form her phobia. Forgetting about his wife who is waiting
for him at home,
Stewart takes Meg home and they make love. (Meg has found a son in Stevie and
now a husband in Stewart).
Karen calls his office, gets the
number where Stewart is, calls the number and hears a woman answer the phone.
Then she finds out it's Meg. Hurt and furious, in the middle of the night Karen
takes the drapes that she has designed, drives to the clinic and hangs them.
The following morning, upon finding the drapes, Stevie runs away. Stewart
looks for him everywhere and calls the police. The patients run amok.
Furious, Stewart tears down the drapes just when Dev escorts Regina in.
Stewart and Dev fight it out in front of her.
Dev's wife Edna begs Stewart to save Dev's reputation: Vicky wrote a damning
report not against Stewart, as Dev asked her, but against Dev, detailing
his extra-marital affairs and his misconduct at the hospital.
Both Stewart and Karen rush to the river, where the cops are searching for the
body of Stevie, fearing that he committed suicide, but Karen leaves without making herself
known. Meg arrives too, and Stewart finally breaks down: this time it's he who
needs help from someone.
Alas, Meg has realized that their affair is crazy, and has decided to break up.
Before the board meeting Stewart begs Vicky not to present her report against
Dev. Dev resigns anyway. Stewart has finally time to discuss Karen's problems.
Back home, they find Stevie, shaken but alive.
(About 30 minutes of the original director's cut were removed by the producer).
Lust for Life (1956) è la biografia disperata di van Gogh fino al suo suicidio.
Tea and Sympathy (1956) was ad adaptation of
Robert Anderson's play "Tea and Sympathy" (1953).
During a class reunion at a college former classmates notice a lonely young man.
The young man wanders into the dormitory and checks the room where he used to live.
A flashback shows what happened.
Tom is a shy boy in a boarding school who shuns the company of the others.
The headmaster's wife, Laura, a frustrated housewife whose first husband died
in the war and whose second husband neglects her, is the only one friendly to him.
Tom is more interested in the hobbies of women than in the macho behavior of
guys. The other boys make fun of him and call him "sister". Laura's husband
also ridicules him. Tom's father is ashamed of him and tries to encourage
a more manly behavior, but only succeeds at losing his confidence.
Laura is upset hearing everybody talk of Tom as if he were a sick person,
with the only result that Tom gets more and more humiliated.
In order to stop the gossiping,
his roommate advises him to sleep with the diner's waitress.
Tom gets drunk. Laura knows what he is planning to do and tries to stop him.
He is torn but then decides to go to the waitress' room. She understands
he is still a virgin and tries to help him, but Tom
panicks and has a hysterical crisis. He grabs a knife and tries to kill
himself. The following day the school calls Tom's father.
Laura is shocked to realize that Tom's father is actually proud of what
happened, even if it means that he will be expelled, because Tom's father
thinks that this finally proves his son's masculinity. Tom's father is
badly disappointed when he is told the details and leaves without even
talking to his son.
Laura gets mad at her husband, because she sees that the boys humiliate
him. She even confronts her husband for tolerating and encouraging this
She protests that people need affection, and is obviously also talking about
herself: he never loved her and never lets her love him. Her husband is
only irritated by the discussion. She is as humiliated as Tom is.
She finds Tom in the woods and tries to console him. Finally, she makes love
The flashback is over. Tom is visiting his old room. He looks for Laura,
but she is no longer there. She left her husband after that day.
And she did not find happiness. She went from one melancholy life to
an even worse one. Tom got married and became "normal", but she is alone.
The sophisticated comedy
Designing Woman (1957), reminiscent of the
Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn comedies, is perhaps his best one.
Mike (Gregory Peck) is a sportswriter who gets drunk at a party in California
where he has covered an important sport event. The following
morning he doesn't remember anything but there's a cute girl waving at him.
It turns out she is a woman he met at the party and she helped him write the
sport story that he doesn't even remember wiring to the magazine.
In real life, she is a fashion designer, Marilla, also from New York.
The two fall in love and, after a brief holiday together, get married and fly
back to real life in New York.
Each is surprised and disappointed by the other's lifestyle: he is an
intellectual who lives in a messy place, she is a classy lady who lives in
a luxury flat.
He has a turbulent encounter with the girl he was dating, a tv singer-dancer,
Lori, who throws ravioli on his pants. Marilla finds him in that state,
but does not inquire,
and takes him to her flat for the surprise party that her distinguished and
wealthy friends are throwing for her. Mike is jealous of a
Zachary who wanted to marry her until he meets him and this Zachary turns
out to be the most likeable of the entire crowd.
Nonetheless, their crowds are incompatible: Mike plays poker with his buddies,
that include the retarded but devoted Maxie,
while she designs clothes for the high society, including the rich
theatrical producer Zachary.
She is disgusted when she watches a boxing game, he is bored to death when
he watches a fashion parade.
It turns out that Zachary has chosen Lori as the protagonist of the new
play, and Marilla is to design her costumes, not knowing what Lori was to
Mike has become famous for his articles against corruption in boxing,
that accuse a mobster, Martin, of fixing games. Martin sends his gangsters
to beat and threaten Mike, a fact that Mike hides from his wife.
When his wife finds out about Lori (recognizing her in a picture that
was in Mike's apartment), he also denies that, pretending he has never
seen Lori before.
When Mike pretends to go out of town for a sport event (in reality, he's
hiding in a hotel from the gangsters who want to stop his articles),
Marilla gets suspicious.
She asks her former beau Zachary, who is now Lori's boss, to find out if
Lori knew Mike before their wedding. Zachary actually romances Lori and
gets a kiss. Then tells Marilla that he is positive Mike never lied to
her: Mike and Lori never met before.
But Marilla is not satisfied and finds an excuse to visit Lori. Alas,
Mike has just gone to visit Lori for the same reason: ask her to hide their
past. Mike is hiding in the bedroom while the two women chat, but Lori's dog,
that knows Mike very well, steals his shoe and brings it to Marilla, who
then finds him in the bedroom. He tries in vain to explain.
She runs away furious.
Back at the hotel, Mike learns from a "friend" that Martin's gangsters are
planning to kidnap his wife, since they cannot find him.
It is the night of the premiere. Lori is telling Marilla the truth, and advising
her to forgive Mike, who, after all, has been lying out of love.
Just then the gangsters kidnap Marilla. Just then Mike and Maxie arrive to stop
them. The fist fight is won by a dancer who helps Mike and Marilla.
All ends well: Martin's reputation is ruined, Marilla forgives Mike, and
Lori marries Zachary.
The Reluctant Debutante (1958) è invece una commedia satirica che
ridicolizza gli snob, in particolare la matrigna che si oppone all'amore della figlia per un povero batterista,
perlomeno finché questi non eredita una fortuna.
Jimmy is a busy divorced British lord who recently married the socially
ambitious Sheila. Jimmy's daughter Jane, who lives with her mother in the USA,
is coming to meet her step-mother.
At the airport they meet Sheila's petulant cousin
Mabel and her daughter Clarissa. Mabel is excited about introducing her
daughter to the formal balls, and Sheila soon decides that Jane also has to
make her debut.
Mabel is scheming to get Clarissa engaged with a wealthy aristocratic David,
but Sheila tries to steal him for her Jane, except that Jane gets terribly
bored by the snobbish aristocrat.
Jimmy is no less bored by the formality of the event, but luckily he meets
an entertaining young man from the USA, who happens to play the drums in the
orchestra of the balls.
Jane is attracted to this young man, whose name also happens to be David.
Jimmy lets them dance together, But Sheila is horrified when she learns that
the guy is only a drummer, and Mabel adds some gossip about this David being
a dangerous seducer of naive girls.
Jane tells the drummer about her parents' opposition.
David the drummer has to go to Italy because a relative is dying and Jane
is subjected to the attentions of other, extremely boring, David.
One night the scheming Sheila decides to invite the noble David to dinner
and calls Mabel to get his number. Mabel intentionally gives her the number
of David the drummer. Sheila calls that number and David happens to have just
returned from Italy. Minutes later the noble David calls and gets re-invited.
Jane is hardly thrilled at all at the idea. When David the drummer
shows up, Jimmy and Sheila are embarrassed but Jane is delighted.
After dinner, they all head for yet another ball, where both Davids compete
for Jane. While David is drumming, the noble David tries to kiss Jane, but
Jane slaps him in the face. Then Jane runs away with David the drummer.
Her parents wait anxiously at home until David brings back Jane in the middle
of the night. Her parents keep them from chatting until he finally leaves,
but he finds a way to sneak back in, kiss Jane and tell her that he has
inherited the title of duke from the relative who died.
Sheila catches them kissing and very angrily demands that David leaves the house.
Jimmy pretends to kick him out but in fact is in cahoots with his daughter.
The following day Jimmy finds out from the newspaper that David the drummer
is in fact a duke. The noble David comes to beg Jane's forgiveness and her
hand. But he tries again to kiss her against her will. Sheila sees them and
is ecstatic. But Jane rejects him again and Jimmy explains to Sheila that
it was all a misunderstanding, that Mabel was wrong: it is David the noble,
not David the drummer, who is a scoundrel. He then talks Sheila into inviting
the young duke to the ball, which she does, without telling her who the duke is.
Only at the ball does Sheila realizes that David the drummer is the perfect
candidate for her step-daughter.
Gigi (1958), a remake of the French movie Gigi (1948) by Jacqueline Audry,
un musical del librettista Alan Jay Lerner e del musicista Frederick Loewe,
è invece un musical francese e nostalgico. Gigi è
una giovane briosa e maliziosa che le zie vorrebbero avviare alla carriera mondana, e a tal fine le
assegnano un esperto in materia (Maurice Chevalier), senonche i due si sposeranno rinunciando a tutte le
Le musiche sono ormai limitate alle canzoni del protagonista, come anche in
Bells Are Ringing (1960), trasposizione del musical di Jule Styne
(piu` la storia di Betty Comden & Adolph Green che le musiche di Styne), con Judy Holliday e Dean Martin:
lei è una telefonista un po' svampita
che ficca il naso nella vita privata degli utenti,
finendo nei guai con un delinquente ma trovando l'amore con un cantante.
Ella (Judy Holliday) is a lonely young woman who works for an answering
service run by her cousin.
She, her cousin Sue and their friend Gewn run take shifts at the switchboard,
taking and leaving messages for their subscribers.
Her cousin Sue keeps trying to set her up with young men, but Ella is so clumsy
that all dates end up in disaster. On the other hand, she is falling in love
with one of their customers, Jeffrey the young playwright,
for whom she plays the role of the mother who
has to remind him his appointments. An inspector, convinced that all answering
services are only fronts for brothels, almost arrests the three girls
before realizing the mistake. Just then a gentleman walks in, Arthur, who
has seduced Ella's cousin Sue into letting him run his business from their office.
His official business is musical records, but in reality he is running an
illegal ring of bets on horse-races.
Ella is still monitoring Jeffrey's life: Jeffrey is falling into a depression
because he can't finish a play and is becoming an alcoholic.
When he is about to miss another important appointment, Ella decides
to walk to his apartment and wake him up in person. That saves him from
disaster, and he is grateful and almost falls in love, but suddenly Ella
has to leave, Cinderella-style, without revealing her identity.
A good-hearted girl, Ella enters the lives of other customers, helping them
achieve their dreams when she can, without revealing how she knows what their
dreams are. The second time she helps Jeffrey he tells her that he has fallen
in love with her, and she doesn't resit. It is thanks to her that Jeffrey
manages to finish his play. And Jeffrey introduces her to the crowd of
the theater, and even proposes to her, but Ella feels uncomfortable among
those superficial and decadent people, and feels bad that she's been lying
to him all the time. So she just says goodbye and disappears.
The inspector, in the meantime, has been following her and taking pictures
of her in compromising situations.
Ella has done something else too: she has changed an order of records,
without knowing that the titles represent bets (a friend who knows about
classical music told her that Beethoven only made nine symphonies, therefore
the order for the tenth must be wrong). But this change of "order" resulted
in losses for the bookies, who are now mad at Arthur.
At a club Jeffrey meets two of Ella's customers who also benefited from her
angelic intrusions. They finally realize it's the same girl, and Jeffrey
is beginning to see the light: what they have in light is the answering service.
But the police inspector has a different view of the whole business and
proceeds to arrest them: Jeffrey avoids them by accident. The police continue
the raid at the answering service's place, but finally Ella talks sense into
them and explains that they missed the real criminal all the time: Arthur.
Jeffrey, who has figured out everything, arrives at the office and conquers
his beloved Ella, while one by one all the customers who benefited from
Ella's intervention show up to thank her.
Dopo questa duplice parentesi comica Minnelli tornò al melodramma
con Some Came Running (1958), il suo migliore, tratto dal romanzo
di James Jones.
Un reduce, Dave (Sinatra), torna dopo sedici anni al paese. Scende dall'autobus
accompagnato da una sgualdrinella (Mc Laine) che ricorda a malapena di
aver raccattato in un locale. Si libera della donna e si installa in un
hotel, proprio di fronte al negozio di suo fratello maggiore Frank.
La voce si sparge in fretta nella piccola comunita`.
Frank e` del tutto indifferente alla presenza del fratello in paese e anzi
ne e` palesemente irritato. Dave non gli ha annunciato il suo arrivo, anche
perche' e` arrivato per caso (era stato messo sull'autobus ubriaco).
Frank lo va a trovare e lo invita a cena. Dave e` freddo e indisponente
perche' il fratello lo tenne per anni in un collegio, e non dimostro` mai
alcun interesse per lui. Frank, a sua volta, non gli scrisse mai. Scrisse in
compenso alcuni romanzi, e in uno di questi insulto` indirettamente
la moglie di Frank, Agnes, che gli serba pertanto rancore.
Frank ha fatto soldi e vive in una villa lussuosa.
Ha fatto fortuna durante la guerra.
Ha una figlia adolescente,
vispa e avvenente. Dave e` freddo e laconico davanti al
quadretto della famiglia modello. Intuisce l'imbarazzo del fratello e
l'ipocrisia della cognata. A cena e` stata invitata anche Gwen, un'ex compagna
di scuola di Dave, una maestrina pudica e colta che lo ammira come scrittore.
Ma Dave non vuole piu` saperne di scrivere. E` piu` interessato a lei come
donna. Quasi litigano perche' lei tenta di convincerlo del suo talento
Frank si mescola subito alla malavita: fa lega con la
con un giocatore professionista (Martin), ritrova la prostituta e fa a
cazzotti con il suo protettore che e` venuto a riprendersela, finisce in
carcere ubriaco. Il fratello paga la cauzione per evitare uno scandalo,
ma Dave non gli e` per nulla riconoscente.
L'unica attenuante è il manoscritto incompiuto di un romanzo, che
attira le simpatie della maestrina vergine, la quale gli si concede,
ma più allo scrittore che all'uomo. Poi si pente e lo evita.
Il fratello Frank si atteggia a marito e padre modello, ma in realta`
e` deluso dal matrimonio (forse ha sposato la moglie
soltanto per ereditare il negozio di suo padre) e ammira invece la
sua giovane e diligente segretaria. Una sera la porta in una zona dove si
ritirano le coppiette e la ragazza si lascia baciare;
ma la figlia e` li` con il suo ragazzo e lo coglie in flagrante.
Sconvolta, va a ubriacarsi in
città, dove Sinatra la incontra e la rispedisce a casa.
Gwen ha trovato un editore per il manoscritto di Sinatra e ha scoperto
in se` il vero amore.
Ma Sinatra si e` immischiato con Martin in un pericoloso business di
gioco d'azzardo e proprio quella sera Martin viene accoltellato.
In ospedale i dottori scoprono che Martin e` anche afflitto da diabete.
La prostituta completa l'opera andando a parlare con la maestrina, e questa,
troppo bigotta per sopportare l'idea dei locali notturni,
decide di abbandonare definitivamente Dave.
Sinatra chiede allora alla devota Mc Laine di sposarlo.
Nel frattempo ha tenuto una filippica a Frank, lui fratello scavezzacollo
a Frank il fratello saggio, riguardo la scappatella con la segretaria.
Sinatra e la ragazza si recano al luna park. L'ex ragazzo-protettore della
ragazza e` pero` sulle loro tracce ed e` armato.
Avvertito, Martin corre per fermare il gangster ma arriva troppo tardi.
La prostituta fa da scudo al marito e muore al suo posto.
Al funerale si presenta anche Gwen.
Dave e` sempre pensieroso, come se avvertisse il destino nemico.
Il film è un vasto quadro della vita di paese: brave ragazze e
delinquenti, borghesi e falliti.
Le miserie morali della provincia affiorano senza pietà e il mondo dei cittadini
onesti non sembra più pulito dei bassifondi. È il film più duro di Minnelli, che per
la prima volta rinuncia al lieto fine.
Al melodramma Minnelli si dedicò anche nei tre film seguenti.
The sprawling Southern melodrama
Home From The Hill (1960) is a nostalgic look at declining family values
but also an indictment of the old patriarchal prejudices.
During a hunting trip a wealthy man, captain Wade (Robert Mitchum),
is almost killed by a young man who hates him for molesting his wife.
He is saved by a young ambitious kid, his loyal employee Rafe.
Wade's wife Hannah does not love him anymore and has become cynical about their
marriage. She knows that some day some husband is going to kill Wade the
The rough men of the town, who are all tenants of Wade's, make fun of
Wade's son Theron, a good and simple boy.
They take him to a field in the middle of the night pretending that
they are hunting, and then they leave him there. Hours later he is still there,
waiting in the dark, when the men drive Wade to see what is going on.
The boy feels ridiculous. Wade decides that it is time to educate the child
to the rough life that expects the boy who some day will be the heir to
a fortune. Wade had promised Hannah that he would not interfere with the
upbringing of the son, but now he is ready to take over and make him
his own son... just what Hannah wanted to avoid.
Rafe trains Theron to shoot and Theron becomes an infallible sniper.
He also decides to quit school, against his father's advice but comforted
by his mother who is still fighting for his affection.
When the tenants complain about a wild boar who is wreaking havoc in their
farms, Wade decides to let Theron take care of it, but, again, assisted by Rafe.
Theron wants his own glory, with no help from Rafe, and at night sneaks away.
He faces the wild beast alone and kills it. His father is proud of him, and
the men of the town now respect him.
Rafe also introduces the shy Theron to girls. Theron can't find the courage to
talk to the girl he likes, Libby, he sends Rafe to ask her out.
Libby would go to the dance with Theron, but her father, upon hearing that the
young man is the son of the notorious womanizer, forbids her to leave the house
and slams the door in Theron's face.
During the party Wade tries to make love to his wife, but she is stiff and icy:
she has not forgiven him. She swears that he will never have her.
Theron is sad that he cannot see Libby, with whom he is suddenly in love.
Libby surprises him by showing up at his place. The girl is much bolder than
him, and has to spell it out to him that she likes him.
Hannah stumbles into Rafe as he is caring for his dead mother's tomb.
Nearby Theron and Libby are making love. Libby just told Theron that her
parents are sending her away to college, and Theron told her that he would
like them to have a child instead. When he gets home with lipstick on his
cheeks, his mother is jealous. Theron tells his mother that Libby's father
hates him and his mother explains that Wade is feared as a womanizer.
Theron is shocked to hear that his father is an adulterer, and tries to
defend him. His mother tells him that she has not had sex with her father
since before he (Theron) was born. She tells him why: one day, as she was
pregnant, she came home and found Wade with a lover. The lover had a
five-year boy, Wade's illegitimate son: Rafe.
Theron is Rafe's half-brother. Now Theron understands why his father has
always trusted Rafe so much.
Theron, disturbed, confronts his father and demands that Rafe be treated as
a son. Wade refuses to ruin the name of the family by elevating a bastard
to family. Theron runs out disgusted.
Wade turns and sees Hannah: Hannah finally got her revenge, now that Theron
hates his father.
First thing, Theron visits Rafe to tell him that he's leaving the mansion
and tries to make up for the injustice that Rage has suffered all his life.
Theron takes a regular job in a factory and leaves Libby.
Six weeks later Libby confronts Theron. Theron tells her that he is traumatized
by his parents' failed marriage and does not want to make the same mistake.
Later Libby's father goes to visit Wade, suddenly eager to have Theron
date Libby. Wade reads through his fake smile: Libby is pregnant and her
father is just trying to find her a husband.
Libby's father admits that he doesn't know who the father is: he was just
hoping that the naive Theron would solve the problem by marrying Libby.
The old man walks out crying, but someone is ready to fix his problem: Rafe
proposes to Libby. He honestly loves her and wants to start a family.
The baby is born and has a proper father.
However, coming out of church after the baptism, Libby's father overhears
the men of the town gossip that the baby is yet another of Wade's
Touched by Theron's crisis and eager to get his wife back, at the mansion Wade
is ready to change life and asks Hannah to forgive him.
Just then someone breaks into the house and shoots Wade dead.
Theron runs after the killer and eventually catches him: he is shocked to
see it's Libby's father. The old man tries to shoot him too and Theron has
to kill him. Theron decides to leave town and start a new life.
Rafe has lived in the shadow of the family this whole time, never fully
admitted to it. Hannah, who is not even her mother, changes all that: she
has Rafe acknowledged as Wade's son on the tombstone.
Rafe is not only Wade's son, but the father of Theron's son: an illegitimate
son who became the father of an illegitimate son, both "bastards" caused by
the two men of her life.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962) transfers the
novel by Vicente Blasco Ibanez to the battlefields of Word War II with some
major changes to the plot.
The acting is kind of clumsy, with Julio impersonated by a middle-aged man who
speaks in a strong US accent and Marguerite who speaks in a classic English
On the eve of World War II a wealthy Argentinian family gets together to
welcome the return of a young man. The patriarchal grandfather is particularly
excited to welcome
his grandson Heinrich back from studying in Germany for six years.
His daughters are married to a German and to a French. Heinrich is the son
of the German, while the Latin lover
Julio (Glenn Ford), his favorite grandson, is the son
of the French. During the dinner the grandfather mocks Hitler.
Julio tries to break the tension, but Heinrich
confesses that he gave up his studies to serve Hitler's Nazist party.
The grandfather slaps him in the face but Heinrich calmly proclaims the
superiority of the German race. A storm rages outside while the old man
inveighs against the evil of the German nation. Eventually he collapses
dead in the rain.
The four horsemen of the Apocalypse seem to appear amid the clouds.
Months later at a high-society party in Paris, while the guests discuss
politics, Julio meets the young and beautiful Marguerite, married to the much
older Etienne, a friend of Julio's father. Julio is indifferent to politics
and much more interested in the arts,
while Etienne, owner of a newspaper, is right in the middle of the momentous events of the day.
Etienne is so busy with all that is happening at his office that he neglects
Marguerite. At an auction she meets again Julio, who does not hesitate to
flirt with her, even knowing that she is married, and married to a family
friend. War erupts. His father finds out what is going on and uses the war
as a pretext to ask Julio to move back to Argentina with him. Julio refuses.
His father tells him that Etienne has been drafted to go to war, and Julio
cynically takes advantage of it. Scared, during a bombardment Marguerite
walks into Julio's apartment and gives herself to him.
Julio feels that the Germans won and it's pointless to fight, but his
sister Gigi, a college student, thinks otherwise and joins the Resistance.
Their uncle is now an officer of the German army and pays a visit to Julio
and his parents taking his fanatic son Heinrich with him.
Heinrich is now an officer of the Nazi party. The general in
charge of the region is fascinated by Marguerite and tries to steal her
from Julio, a fact that greatly amuses Heinrich. Julio openly threatens
the general if he dares interfere in his love affairs. The general is ready
to punish him, but Heinrich intervenes to protect Julio.
Julio would be happy to leave Paris now, but Marguerite has a new problem:
Etienne has been taken prisoner of war.
Meanwhile, Gigi gets arrested for participating in an anti-Nazi riot.
Julio and his father have to ask their German uncle to gain her release.
Heinrich witnesses the transaction and warns them that it's the last time
Gigi can be saved by them. Far from thanking him, Gigi is ashamed of Julio's
silent acceptance of humiliation.
Etienne returns from the prison camp. He denies Marguerite a divorce. Marguerite
is ashamed that she cheated on a war hero for a playboy. Julio finally snaps
and decides to join the Resistance. Not even Marguerite knows.
Tortured by the German police, Etienne is left cripple. Marguerite feels that
she has to take care of him and leaves Julio. Julio demands to talk to the head
of the Resistance. He is finally introduced to the boss: it's Etienne. Julio
would like to leave Paris, but Etienne tells him that they need him in Paris
because he is the only one who has access to the higher ranks of
the German authorities.
Gigi gets arrested again, and this time she is sent to prison camp. Her father
pleas with his brother, Heinrich's father, but this time it's too late: she
is dead. When his father tells him of Gigi's sacrifice, Julio keeps silent
about his own activities, even if this makes him look like a coward.
The Resistance asks him to visit his cousin Heinrich in order to track down
where the headquarters of a German division have moved. It's a deadly mission
because the bombardment will begin soon after he sends an electronic signal.
Before leaving for this mission, he meets Marguerite, who informs him that
Etienne has been killed by the German police. She is now a free woman.
She recognizes Julio's driver and guesses that Julio is going away on a
mission for the Resistance. She is scared to lose him too. Julio also bids
farewell from his father and then starts driving towards his destiny.
Unbeknownst to him, the German general, who has not forgotten the humiliation
inflicted on him by Julio over Marguerite, has found out that he is a member
of the Resistance: Etienne spoke under torture.
When Julio arrives to Heinrich's headquarters, he finds a squadron of Germans
waiting for him. While Heinrich is interrogating him, Julio hears the rumble
of the bombers converging towards the building. The cousins die in the
bombing and a cloud rises over the ruins.
The four horsemen of the Apocalypse seem to appear amid the smoke.
Two Weeks in Another Town (1962) racconta le due settimane romane di un divo
di Hollywood afflitto da una crisi profonda fino alla folle corsa in auto con cui ha fine la sua nevrosi.
A recovering alcoholic Hollywood film director in Rome
Jack (Kirk Douglas) is a Hollywood actor who is released from a clinic for
alcoholics after several years of cure, and accepts the invitation from his
old director (Edward Robinson) to act in a major film that is being shot in
Rome. The director is late, and the producer does not want to give him a single
extra day. His wife is a jealous neurotic. The director and the actor made many
movies together, but then something happened between them related to a woman
named Carlotta. Now the actor has
accepted what he thought was a golden opportunity to return to moviemaking,
but the director tells him that his doctor has begged to give him a job,
any job: he is not to be a star, but simply an assistant to the director.
But then Jack realizes that the director really needs his help, so he accepts
and asks for a lot of money. Basically, they are both trying to stage a
One night Jack gives a ride to a young Italian girl, the girlfriend of the
protagonist. While they are stuck
in a traffic jam, they are approached by a rich lady, Carlotta, married to
a wealthy old man, who teases her old friend Jack before returning to
her husband's limousine. Over dinner, Jack tells the Italian girl how
his marriage with Carlotta ended: he almost died in a car accident, drunk,
perhaps trying to commit suicide. Carlotta is now toying with him:
she knows her power over him. The Italian girl understands his weakness
and becomes his lover to sort of protect him from Carlotta, and maybe to run
away from her boyfriend. He, in turn, tries to stab Jack and then begs
him to leave the girl alone. The director has a heart-attack and, before being
taken away by the ambulance, cries in front of Jack: he is finished and broke
if he doesn't complete the film in time. Jack promises to finish the movie
for him. The director also apologizes for having slept with Carlotta: she
was sleeping with everybody and seduced him too. Jack forgives, and gets
to work, always supported by the simple Italian girl.
Jack proves to be an excellent director, getting the best from the actors.
He even gets offered a contract for a new film: the protagonist now wants
Jack as the director for his next movie.
But the director's hysterical wife convinces the dying man that Jack is
trying to steal his film, to take revenge for what the director did to
Carlotta, and the director acts to destroy his career. The first thing
Jack does is fall again for his top addiction: Carlotta. Which leads to
his second addiction: alcohol. He is reenacting the "movie" of his life.
He gets in the car, drunk, with Carlotta on his side, and starts driving
like a madman. But this time he doesn't crash: he leaves Carlotta, Rome
and the film, and flies back to the USA. He kisses one last time the
Italian girl in front of her boyfriend and then leaves them too.
Minnelli tries a philosophical meditation on art and life, on past and
present, on aging and dying, but ends up with an overlong and
convoluted plot that has no psychological depth, is poorly acted
and has a terrible ending.
The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963) is another comedy, still
drenched in a lot of melodrama. While the plot is rather bland,
and the ending is predictable, Minnelli shows his usual class in
balancing humour and tragedy: every scene that could potentially be too
strong ends is derailed by a comic expedient. At the end, emotional
order is restored, as if nothing bad really happened.
Tom (Glenn Ford) is a handsome and charming widower with a little child, Eddy.
A successful producer, he has to deal with a popular radio show host, Norman,
who is seducing all his young female listeners.
Tom hires a maid to cook and clean. She warns him against all the women who
will want to marry him, starting with the attractive young neighbor, Elizabeth,
a divorced woman. Elizabeth understands Eddy's trauma better than Tom does,
but Tom does not want to face his loss and resents her help.
Tom meets a lively ex-pageant, a sophisticated fashion consultant.
But the one who is there to help when Eddy falls sick is the neighbor,
Elizabeth, who also happens to be a nurse. Unfortunately, Tom hurts her
feelings by offering to pay for her help and then by being rude to her.
Norm ends up falling in love with the ex-pageant and getting engaged with her.
He helps the fashion consultant, Rita, date Tom.
Eddy dislikes Rita, as much as he loves the company of the nurse.
When Tom decides to propose to Rita, Rita basically asks him to get rid of
the boy. He doesn't have to reply: they phone him that Eddy has disappeared
from the summer camp.
Then Tom realizes that the child is the most important thing in his life.
It turns out the child has simply run to the neighbor, his best friend.
Tom finally wakes up and realizes that the superficial and selfish Rita is
not the woman of his life. Eddy helps him pick up the phone and call Elizabeth,
who has been waiting for that call for a long time.
Goodbye Charlie (1964) affronta il tema della metempsicosi che impregna
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970): uno psichiatra (Montand) scopre che una sua paziente paranormale
(Streisand) è vissuta diverse volte e si innamora di quella del Settecento; rinnova pertanto le
sedute per poter comunicare con l'altra Streisand, in un rapporto assurdo, tenero e patetico. La Streisand
è una mediocrissima nevrotica che funge da ignara intermediaria, finché un giorno ascolta
i nastri delle sue sedute, con la voce del suo fantasma e le frasi del dottore. Streisand, che si stava
innamorando, si sente usata.
Nina/ A Matter of Time (1976) è una favola che a tratti parafrasa quella di Cenerentola.
Liza Minnelli è l'umile cameriera di Ingrid Bergman, un'anziana nobile eccentrica reduce da una
vita avventurosa de ora dimenticata dai suoi amanti di un tempo, che trascorre i suoi ultimi anni in
solitudine alloggiata in un grande hotel romano. Nina è affascinata dal mondo di principi e artisti
che emerge dai suoi ricordi, e al tempo stesso ha compassione della sua vecchiaia: la serve fuori orario,
finge di credere alle sue pazzie, pur di potersi estasiare all'ascolto delle storie (talvolta sogna di viverle
lei). La grande occasione Nina ce l'ha grazie ad uno sceneggiatore alla ricerca di un finale per il suo film.
Questi ha assistito a una sua scenata e vuol farne una scena di stupro. Il giorno del provino la vecchia,
lasciata sola, esce fuori di senno, fa per correre da un amante che è morto da anni, e viene
investita. Nello stesso momento Nina supera il provino parlando in tono accorato della vecchia. Quando
viene avvisata dell'incidente, si rende conto di essere vissuta entro i ricordi della vecchia. Ora comincia la
vita reale e la povera cameriera diventa una diva.