The other Minnelli
Upcoming film festival to celebrate the work of Liza’s father, Vincente Minnelli.
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We know that to bang on about the virtues of Miss Liza Minnelli would only be a waste of breath; as something of an icon she’s already up there with the other gods (Cher, Madonna & Kylie, not that you had to ask). When it comes to the rest of the Minnelli family however the GT archives look decidedly bare. So, while we take a minute to slap our own wrists, why don’t you take a moment to brush up on the work of Vincente Minnelli, renowned Hollywood director and, yes, father of our dear Liza.
With a life that could be taken from the script of a modern day soap opera (only with a more plausible script and better acting, we’d assume), Minnelli’s life was never short of colour. Despite the four marriages and two children, Minnelli was widely accepted as a homosexual and, while you might think this is relatively commonplace for Hollywood times were of course all too different back in the 1940s. With a career spanning over thirty years, Minnelli’s work covers three key subjects of cinematic history – the musical, the melodrama and the comedy – and features Hollywood veterans including Elizabeth Taylor, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and of course, Liza Minnelli.
Perhaps it was his vibrant background, or maybe just his connections with costume styling and theatre, but Minnelli has since been credited as one of the screen’s greats, his work bringing colour, life and excitement alongside his surrealism, quirkiness and camp. Unusually though, Minnelli became just as well regarded for his darker melodramas, including the celebrated Some Came Running with Frank Sinatra, marking a diverse and influential career.
The culturally astute among you may already be aware that the BFI will soon run a two-month retrospective of Minnelli’s work; a portfolio of more than 30 Hollywood films spanning from the 1940s through to the late 1970s. Split into two halves, the first month of the exhibition will focus on his earlier work, while his later titles will be screened throughout May.
Over these two months the retrospective will show some classic screenings of films from a bygone age and, as a pilgrimage to the camp theatre ancestors if nothing else, the exhibition should be worth a visit.
With recognisable icons (as well as plenty of faces that us whippersnappers will still be to learn) and a healthy dose of cinemagraphic culture, the showcase proves the importance of classics in film. What’s more, while Liza needn’t worry about her throne just yet, it’s never hurt to learn a little of the family history either.
Tickets from £5. More information, including background, synopses and screenings, can be found from the BFI website
Words: Luke Campbell