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Vincente Minnelli's long directing career included films ranging from Cabin in the Sky to Meet Me in St. Louis and An American in Paris, but in his lifetime he didn't receive the popular acclaim enjoyed by many others in the industry. Two new books offer well-deserved tributes to his artistic accomplishments. Levy (film, Univ. of California Los Angeles; Cinema of Outsiders: The Rise of American Independent Film) provides an engrossing and carefully researched biography of Minnelli, tracing his life and career from his work at the Radio City Music Hall and on Broadway to his decades-long involvement in film. With keen insight and tasteful honesty, Levy examines Minnelli's productions and his relations with the actors and others involved in them, weaving these components into a life story that includes a marriage to Judy Garland, friendships with the Gershwins and other notables, and an intricately complex personal life.
The anthology edited by McElhaney (film studies, Hunter Coll.; The Death of Classical Cinema: Hitchcock, Lang, Minnelli) is a stimulating complement to Levy's biography. Written over several decades by a selection of respected international scholars, the thoughtful and educational essays included in this broad work range over Minnelli's career but concentrate on analyzing his artistic development. They address, e.g., the director's settings, musical scenes, and psychological subtexts as well as his treatment of historical material. The result is a valuable addition to the literature of film history and aesthetics. Both volumes are excellent resources and enjoyable reads that should be welcome additions to circulating libraries andlarge academic film collections.
—Carol J. Binkowski