From Publishers Weekly
Former Variety critic Levy has written nine books on film, including All About Oscar and John Wayne. In the first full-length comprehensive biography of film director Minnelli (1903–1986), Levy unveils a compelling portrait. A lonely, awkward, painfully shy boy, Minnelli was born into show business because his father and uncle operated a touring theater company. In New York, during the 1930s, Minnelli graduated from costume and set designs to directing. After a decade on Broadway, he was sent by producer Arthur Freed to MGM, where Minnellis stylish and exuberant élan captivated audiences for the next 25 years. Meet Me in St. Louis became a huge WWII home-front hit, establishing Minnelli as a major Tinseltown talent. Levy delivers an outstanding chapter on the making of that film and how it brought Minnelli and Judy Garland together: Judy could never separate professional from emotional relationships, and that kind of blend—or confusion, if you will—was at the very foundation of her marriage to Minnelli. Levys exhaustive research taps into three key sources: the Special Minnelli Collection at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; letters and documents kept by Minnellis widow, Lee Anderson Minnelli; and various drafts of Minnellis 1974 memoir, I Remember It Well. Along with coverage of memorable musical and nonmusical films, the work tells Minnellis personal life with illuminating insight. Levy captures the color, verve and panache of the directors life and legacy in high-gloss Hollywood. (Feb.)
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Vincente Minnelli is best known for directing some of Hollywood’s greatest musicals, such as An American in Paris and Meet Me in St. Louis, but cinephiles also laud him for such melodramatic masterworks as The Bad and the Beautiful and Some Came Running. A number of books have discussed his work, but he hasn’t previously been the subject of a biography. Relying mostly on secondary sources, Levy traces his career from early days as a stage designer in New York to arrival at MGM and his most fruitful period, the 1950s, when his films were box office and critical successes, to his frustrating final decades after the collapse of the studio system. Levy is perhaps more successful at limning Minnelli’s career than at accounting for his problematic personal life: a semicloseted homosexual, Minnelli essayed four marriages, including a famously fractious union with Judy Garland. Despite pallid readings of the films, Levy provides some valuable insight into the life of a genuine artist who struggled—frequently successfully—to inject a higher aesthetic into popular entertainment. --Gordon Flagg
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