Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Morning Midway, taaaaaaaaaa -- tweet! This Vincente Minnelli Book -- Is It "Junk" ???

Hold onto my earlier praise for the book on Vincente Minnelli by Emanuel Levy. Was I too deceptively impressed? Half way through, can't believe this writer, (Ph.D from Columbia, a teaching post at UCLA) would not understand the significance of Lerner and Loewe's first hit, Brigadoon. He berates it, arguing that critics failed to understand its "secret charms." Wait a minute, sir. When it opened on Broadway in 1947, it landed UNANIMOUS raves from nine first night critics, among them the fussy Brooks Atkinson. Mr Levy: Read Opening Nights on Broadway and believe. Levy is on firmer ground slighting a weak film adaption, though I'd argue not nearly as bad as he makes it out. One more big blunder: Levy places Brigadoon as a "mediocre ... creative slowdown in the acclaimed duo's work." How could this hit show have marked a "slowdown" when to that point they'd not yet had a success??? The utterly enchanting Brigadoon was the FIRST of their three New York successes. The FIRST. Then came Paint Your Wagon (not a hit), My Fair Lady and the stuffy and wooden Camelot, redeemed from box office failure, many would argue, by John Kennedy's much reported love of the title song. These are but two glaring examples of sloppy research and troubling missteps in Levy's chronologically jumbled narrative.

Further along in my read, I am losing patience with this author. He seems at times swamped to the point of gagging under his own quasi-scholarly analysis in which he offers cartloads of numbing insights, circling back and forth only to reappear a page or two later. Under their weight, I felt a certain numbness. Where was an editor on this project? 80 pages from the end, and with Gigi now behind, I have little desire to finish, but I will soldier on, I think. I'm missing the early Judy segments, which gave the read high drama; she's gone, nor has Minnelli's gay side been addressed, so far, in anywhere near the same melodramatic detail as was jack hammered against Judy Garland's troubled existence. Maybe, as Terry commented herein, it is "junk." Where Levy excels in part is showing how cast and crew selection, scripting and all of the other variables contribute critically to the outcome of a film. But his end notes are very skimpy and a bibliography alluded to does not appear. Oh, yes, one more thing, can't believe he placed Bandwagon as his second favorite Minnelli musical, behind Meet Me in St. Louis.

Let your liberal heart shine, Bill Moyer. Now I'm firmly in your court. Love the time you're taking around your desk on PBS with writers and insiders to point out, incredibly, how Wall Street is conning DC pols with lobby bribes to let them go back to their old derivative ways. Others have noted the same. So please, Bill, don't let up on bogus "legislation" pretending to cleanup the mess. From yesterday's NYT: "Goldman Sachs is expected to pay it's employees an average of about $595,000 each for 2009, one of the most profitable years in its 141 year history. Workers in the investment bank of JP Morgan Chase stand to collect about $460,000 on average." DISGUSTING.


Alan Cabal said...

If capitalism is so great, how come everything we buy is made in China and Wall Street needs taxpayer bailouts?

Showbiz David said...

spot on, as they say.