Yolanda and the Thief

Overview

Yolanda and the Thief has long been considered the nadir of Arthur Freed's years as an MGM musical producer. Unappreciated at the time of its release, the film was a huge financial and critical failure. It has since become a cult film and cinematic cause celebre, revered by its adherents and condemned by its detractors. For the record, Fred Astaire stars as a suave but strangely unsympathetic con arstist Johnny Parkson Riggs, who convince sheltered South American heiress Yolanda (Lucille Bremer) that he's her ...
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Overview

Yolanda and the Thief has long been considered the nadir of Arthur Freed's years as an MGM musical producer. Unappreciated at the time of its release, the film was a huge financial and critical failure. It has since become a cult film and cinematic cause celebre, revered by its adherents and condemned by its detractors. For the record, Fred Astaire stars as a suave but strangely unsympathetic con arstist Johnny Parkson Riggs, who convince sheltered South American heiress Yolanda (Lucille Bremer) that he's her guardian angel. Naturally, Johnny falls in love with Yolanda and tries to find a way to put an end to the scam job cooked up by himself and his partner-in-crime Victor Budlow Trout (Frank Morgan). Meanwhile, a mysterious character named Mr. Candle (Leon Ames) watches the proceedings with seemingly detached amusement (guess who he turns out to be!) With the exception of "Coffee Time," most of the film's musical numbers are forgettable; Astaire and Lucille Bremer dance well together, but generate none of the charisma necessary to sustain a whimsical tale of this nature. As for Bremer alone, her biggest scene takes place in an artfully arranged bubble bath; undeniably gorgeous, she frankly isn't much of an actress. It is difficult to assess Yolanda and the Thief pro or con; this is one film that is guaranteed to either delight or aggravate the viewer, with no "middle ground."
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Few musicals of the period inspire as extreme and divergent reactions as Yolanda and the Thief. A "love it or hate it" film, it's clearly a triumph of style over content. The dialogue is weak, which harms the fragile story; fantasy of this sort can be destroyed by the slightest false note, and this script has plenty of them. The score, with the exception of the rousing "Coffee Time," is unexceptional and fails, both lyrically and musically, to capture the otherworldly quality to which the film aspires. On the other hand, the movie is a visual feast, full of opulent and bizarre sets, gorgeous costumes and dazzling compositions. The surreal designs created for the famous dream ballet are works of art -- not because of they are Dali-esque but because they create an altogether unique and unforgettable visual experience. Eugene Loring's choreography for this and the "Coffee Time" routine is stunning. Director Vincente Minnelli deserves credit for bringing these elements together; he is unable to mask the film's weaknesses, but he does a marvelous job of highlighting its strengths. Naturally, Fred Astaire is another of those strengths, and an invaluable one. He is the suave con man personified and brings total commitment to even the weakest scenes. Lucille Bremer is overtaxed dramatically, but she is a wonderful dancer and partners Astaire beautifully. An unusual film experience, Yolanda lingers in the viewer's mind -- for better or for worse - a long time after being seen.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/15/2011
  • UPC: 883316326282
  • Original Release: 1945
  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Time: 1:48:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 25,501

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Fred Astaire Johnny Parkson Riggs
Lucille Bremer Yolanda Aquaviva
Frank Morgan Victor Budlow Trout
Mildred Natwick Aunt Amarilla
Mary Nash Duenna
Leon Ames Mr. Candle
André Charlot Dilettante
Ludwig Stossel School Teacher
Jane Green Mother Superior
Remo Bufano Puppeteer
Francis Pierlot Padre
Leon Belasco Taxi Driver
Charles La Torre Police Lieutenant
Michael Visaroff Major Domo
Gigi Perreau Gigi
Technical Credits
Vincente Minnelli Director
Irving Brecher Screenwriter
Jack Dawn Makeup
Arthur Freed Songwriter, Producer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Arnold A. Gillespie Special Effects
Lennie Hayton Musical Direction/Supervision
Irene Costumes/Costume Designer
Eugene Loring Choreography
Warren Newcombe Special Effects
Richard A. Pefferle Set Decoration/Design
Charles Rosher Sr. Cinematographer
Jack Martin Smith Art Director
Jacques Thery Original Story
Harry Warren Songwriter
George White Editor
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
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