Minnelli. Minnelli is very well respected by the consensus on TSPDT (he’s their #67 ranked auteur)- as he should be. Minnelli is another auteur in the long line of the “style over substance” guys who tend to be the directors I respect and admire most. He’s a former production and costume designer—that’s his lineage to becoming an director and it shows in his work. For the purposes of this list it’s really his depth of his top 5-6 that get him in the top 100 auteurs as he doesn’t really have a masterpiece and his #1 film (Meet Me in St. Louis) doesn’t actually crack my top 400. I love Meet Me in St. Louis but it’s not an overwhelming #1 film. On the flip side, having Gigi  s his 4th best film (way ahead of say Mike Nichols #4 film on this list), An American In Paris as 5th, or even Lust For Life at #8 is quite impressive.

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immaculate mise-en-scene in Gigi– breathtaking
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bold color floods in An American in Paris

Best film: Meet Me in St. Louis.  This film is really right there with The Wizard of Oz and A Star Is Born as a showcase for Judy Garland’s talents. More importantly for Minnelli’s case it marks a transition for the movie musical from the black and white Astaire and Rogers films to the gorgeous Technicolor movie musical spectacle that would dominate the next 20+ years.

yes one of Garland’s best roles/films– but also a landmark film for color— remarkable costume design here in Meet Me in St. Louis

total archiveable films: 11

top 100 films:  0

top 500 films: 1 (Meet Me in St. Louis)

top 100 films of the decade:  5 (Meet Me in St. Louis, Some Came Running, The Band Wagon, Gigi, An American in Paris)

from An American in Paris– expressionism

most overrated:  The Band Wagon. Again, I really appreciate the artisty not only of Minnelli, but Fred Astaire here-  I just think at #246 all-time on TSPDT it’s overrated by 300 or more slots. It didn’t make my top 500.

most underrated:  Gigi is one of those best picture Oscar winners that has been ridden down for so many years (no it’s not the best film of 1958- clearly vertigo, The Music Room and Touch of Evil) that it’s now underrated. It’s a widescreen colorful extravaganza (used often by Scorsese in those anti-pan and scan commercials for TCM as an example of the need for letterboxing) and should be revered and studied as such.  The TSPDT couldn’t find a spot for it in their top 1000—and that’s just incorrect.

from Gigi– some of the content may be frivolous– but the artwork here is not far from Bergman’s Cries and Whispers

gem I want to spotlight:   Some Came Running.  It’s clearly his best non-musical and this was a favorite of the French New Wave I love this film and on top of getting a really well done and gorgeous Technicolor widescreen melodrama you get winning performances from Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine and Dean Martin.

one of the reasons for screengrabs– this is from Some Came Running

stylistic innovations/traits:  Minnelli is a visual and color stylist that has influenced everyone from Almodovar to Scorsese (clearly two of the best with the use of color in the past 30 years). He might be the very first person people think of with costume design and certainly as we look at the arrival of color he’s up there with that. Sarris thinks that his material often sucked and it was his downfall but anyone this synonymous with the various aspects of mise-en-scene, often thought of as one of the first in Hollywood to constantly move the camera, and one of the largest proponents and users of widescreen—is more than ok in my book.

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another from An American in Paris

top 10

  1. Meet Me in St. Louis
  2. Some Came Running
  3. The Band Wagon
  4. Gigi
  5. An American in Paris
  6. The Clock
  7. The Bad and the Beautiful
  8. Lust For Life
  9. Cabin in the Sky
  10. Father of the Bride
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even in his non-musical work Minnelli excelled…
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…and is a natural fit for a film on van Gogh

By year and grades

1943- Cabin in the Sky R
1944- Meet Me In St. Louis MS
1945- The Clock HR
1948- The Pirate R
1950- Father of the Bride R
1951- An American In Paris HR
1952- The Bad and the Beautiful HR
1953- The Band Wagon HR
1956- Lust For Life R
1958- Gigi
1958- Some Came Running HR/MS

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives