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Vincente Minnelli: Hollywood's Dark Dreamer Hardcover – Apr 14 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (April 14 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312329253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312329259
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 4.1 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 794 g
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,113,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"At a time when independent American films are more visible and important than ever before, this is an invaluable study. Emanuel Levy's writing is wise, passionate, and amazingly well-informed." --Roger Ebert on CINEMA OF OUTSIDERS
 
"Levy makes a good case for placing [Cukor] in the top echelon of studio directors . . . Levy has constructed a well-rounded biography that smoothly melds Cukor's long career with his discreet private life." --Library Journal on GEORGE CUKOR, MASTER OF ELEGANCE
 
"Vincente Minnelli is the greatest director of motion picture musicals the screen has ever known" --Alan Jay Lerner, librettist of My Fair Lady

About the Author

EMANUEL LEVY is a critic, author of nine film books, and film professor at University of California Los Angeles.  A two-time president of the LA Film Critics Association, Levy, a former critic of Variety and chief critic of Screen International, and is now editor of the acclaimed website, EmanuelLevy.com.  A frequent juror at major international film festivals such as Cannes, Venice, and Sundance, he has written for a wide variety of publications from the Los Angeles Times to the Financial Times. He lives in Los Angeles, California

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Minnelli was inarticulate and withdrawn, his autobiography - I Remember it Well - evidence that he remembered very little. This author has not talked to his family or his collaborators, as far as one can tell. The whole thing is written from the public record of his work and contemporaneous clippings files. So many show business biographies are. The author also shows no flair at being able to say what it is about Minnelli's filmmaking that is masterful. Very disappointing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 18 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Did all the editors at St. Martin's Press suddenly up and die? June 1 2009
By Jeff Woodman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Fascinating subject -- dreadful execution.

I was really looking forward to reading this book, and began by glancing through the photos. When I noticed all the aforementioned mis-captioned pictures I thought, "Uh-oh, this does not bode well."

I won't repeat here the examples of factual errors that are apparent even to a casual scholar of Hollywood's Golden Age. What I find staggering is the combination of inaccuracies, repetitions, omissions, and completely fatuous observations. ("Another brother, Willie, curiously bearing the same name as the dying son in 'East Lynne,' a play in which Minnelli would later perform, died when he was an infant.")

As Dana Stevens observed in a New York Times book review, "...details pop up throughout the book in sudden, impenetrable clumps. Yet elsewhere, information that would be crucial for comprehending the significance of a story is mysteriously absent." That, combined with some truly bad writing, make this a non-starter.

Given the subject matter, I'll probably slog through some more of it (perhaps using the index in the back to jump to the areas of greatest interest to me) before I give it to the local library and take a $37.95 tax deduction.

I Remember It Well
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Buyer Beware! May 26 2009
By Thomas Early - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Have never done a review for Amazon-- but this time felt strongly I should!! This book is reprehensible...
So many factual errs-- Ones I picked up on had to do with first wife the great Judy Garland. Picture insert -- clearly a shot from "Boy Next Door" number from "Meet Me In St Louis" states that she is in position for her christmas song.... Says a sequence from, "Babes on Broadway' (1941) is from, "Strike Up The Band" (1940)--
informs the reader that her third husbands name was, "Mickey" and that Liza stayed with them in London for a time circa... 1964-- Must mean 5th husband Mickey Deans whom she married in 1969-- plus tawdry details of their sex life (Garland and Minnelli...) Book jacket says they met on the set of MMISL-- and on and on.... This talented artist deserves better!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Minnelli's Signature Yellow and Red, Ketchup on Scrambled Eggs? Oct. 31 2010
By Kevin Killian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A much needed book that explores in a cohesive way the ups and downs of the studio system and how they came to bear on the career of an under=appreciated auteur.

First, the shortcomings. They begin during the acknowledgments, during which we read that Levy spent years and years on this book, aided by the kindness of Minnelli's widow, Lee Anderson. I'm assuming that he also spent some time with "Tina Nina," the wretchedly named "other daughter" of Minnelli. In all those years of work, though, did he ever stir himself to interview any living person outside of the fourth wife and second daughter? It's hard to tell; there are no notes and the critical apparatus makes it impossible to tell where Levy or his research assistants uncovered any particular bit of information. The story reads smoothly but at crucial junctures one wonders how many opportunities were squandered to interview X or Y who have since passed on. I would estimate there must be literally dozens of key personnel alive today who workd with Minnelli, and it would have been nice to hear their input.

If he had actually interviewed Zsa Zsa Gabor, for example, she might have saved him from his Gigi blooper by telling him, "No, dahlink, that was Eva in Gigi, not me."

Also, why does Denise Hale come off so badly? I can only think that the wife who succeeded her didn't care for her. Denise Hale just sounds like an ignorant, greedy user, and that's hardly a well-rounded picture.

That said, I admired the parallels Levy found in Minnelli's movies, the links between them, the way, for example, that Madame Bovary recapitulates the plot of The Pirate (though I would give higher marks to Jennifer Jones' performance than he does). His discussions of the movies he likes are often very fine; it's when he wants to dismiss a movie that his writing goes wacky, like he's just another queen in the bar at last call. I didn't know that Liz Taylor wanted Sammy Davis Jr to play her lover (the Charles Bronson part) in The Sandpiper! It sounds ludicrous when you hear about it first, but the more I think about it, the more I wish it had happened. A friend of mine and I were talking about Levy's book the other day and we agreed that, for a man who wants to put his subject into the Parnassus of the great Hollywood directors, he certainly hates a lot of Minnelli's films--and even some of the best ones!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Life In Films April 6 2010
By Joseph Albanese - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In HOLLYWOOD'S DARK DREAMER, author Emanuel Levy captures the true genius of film director Vincente Minnelli. Whether it is visionary powers or dedication to the arts, one must marvel at the wide and varied spectrum of films that Mr. Minnelli directed. Best known for the Freed musicals, the book accurately details them - both the hits (GiGi, An American In Paris) as well as the misses (Kismet, Brigadoon). Mr. Levy also details the comedies (The Long, Long Trailer, Designing Woman) and dramas (Some Came Running, Madame Bovary) that Minnelli gave the world.

HOLLYWOOD'S DARK DREAMER details all of Minnelli's life: his marriages, daughter LIza, troubled relationship with Judy Garland. As others have noted, the book should have been proofed better but what is a puzzlement is how Mr. Levy (obviously fascinated with Vinente Minnelli as a director and a person) seems to be reluctant to explore the man himself. Were his marriages a sham? What motivated him to be so dedicated to his profession? Continually, Levy touches on points (as an example: Minnelli's vast collection of art books which could be seen in the vivid tapestry his camera paints on screen) but, almost as if afraid of offending the man, he steps back or just drops the topic.

Still, he has written an extensive book that details Minnelli's work and life and for that he should be proud.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
More Bad Than Beautiful Dec 29 2009
By S. S. Edmiston - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sure it covers the basic facts, but the writing is emotionless and lackluster for such a stylish, multi-talented, and complicated subject. Worst of all, Minnelli's own personality never comes into focus. Few colorful anecdotes about the larger-than-life Hollywood cast of characters, and the director's innovative talent is never fully explored (just deemed "stylish" or "flamboyant"). There is a strong imbalance in focus between Minnelli's personal and professional life. Claims that he was bisexual with no factual evidence; an unflattering portrait of Liza as a spoiled brat; a full chapter on Judy Garland with no new information -- but his other three wives (or daughter and aspects of his personal life) are barely mentioned. One "greedy" wife is never introduced except to be blamed for Minnelli losing the chance to direct MY FAIR LADY, which is surely a simplification. The most interesting interpretations of his films are the (numerous) excerpts from Stephen Harvey's book. Minnelli's old-fashioned autobiography is actually more insightful and enjoyable.


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