Da Capo £9.99 (346pp) from the Independent Bookshop : 08430 600 030
A Hundred Or More Hidden Things, By Mark Griffin
Friday 30 April 2010
This enjoyable biography of Vincente Minnelli, described in lukewarm terms by Tony Curtis as "one of the better directors I worked with", traces his trajectory from window dresser to enigmatic MGM stalwart. Leslie Caron said that his "only intelligible bit of direction" during An American in Paris was, "Just be yourself."
This advice might be Minnelli's motto. After changing his name from Lester, he took to wearing make-up and directing musicals. His relationship with Judy Garland, which blossomed during Meet Me in St Louis, bemused colleagues: "He was 98 per cent woman and 2 per cent man," said one.
Viewing him with a sympathetic eye, Griffin displays a neat turn of phrase even for Minnelli's less distinguished efforts: "An example of Metro gloss that has hardened into shellac, the movie offers plenty of camp compensations."
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