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Vincente Minnelli

The Art of Entertainment

edited by Joe McElhaney

Film Theory and Criticism, Filmmakers

Published: November 2008
ISBN: 9780814333075
Pages: 472 Size: 6 x 9

This anthology is as boldly unfashionable as it is timely.

— Mike Walsh

Widely known for innovative films like Meet Me in St. Louis, An American in Paris, and The Band Wagon, Vincente Minnelli also directed classic film comedies like Father of the Bride and Designing Woman, and melodramas such as The Bad and the Beautiful and Some Came Running. Though his work is beloved by filmmakers and audiences alike, Minnelli has nonetheless received very little critical attention in English. Vincente Minnelli: The Art of Entertainment remedies this imbalance, offering the first-ever comprehensive and scholarly examination of Minnelli’s career within a variety of discourses and methods.

Bringing together a number of previously uncollected and untranslated essays by some of the most important scholars and critics in North America, Australia, and Europe, Vincente Minnelli: The Art of Entertainment places Minnelli’s cinema in its rightful position at the forefront of film history. In essays written over the last five decades, as well as a number of new essays commissioned especially for this volume, contributors consider Minnelli from a number of perspectives from auteurism to genre studies and psychoanalysis to close textual analysis. The volume is divided into four chronological sections, Minnelli in the 1960s: The Rise and Fall of an Auteur; The 1970s and 1980s: Genre, Psychoanalysis, and Close Readings; The 1990s: Matters of History, Culture, and Sexuality; and Minnelli Today: The Return of the Artist. An introduction by Joe McElhaney addresses the history of the reception of Minnelli’s films, situating this reception within larger questions of film theory, criticism, and aesthetics.

Too often dismissed as little more than a stylist dependent on the resources of the studio system and the structures of genre, Vincente Minnelli deserves a second look from serious film scholars. Vincente Minnelli: The Art of Entertainment demonstrates the remarkable and sustained rigor of Minnelli’s vision and will appeal to students and teachers of film studies as well as fans of Minnelli’s work.

Joe McElhaney is associate professor of film studies at Hunter College/City University of New York. He is the author of The Death of Classical Cinema: Hitchcock, Lang, Minnelli and Albert Maysles.

Contributors Include:
Raymond Bellour, Jean-Loup Bourget, Andrew Britton, Emmanuel Burdeau, Serge Daney, Jean Douchet, Thomas Elsaesser, Edward Gallafent, Beth Genné, David A. Gerstner, Bill Krohn, Adrian Martin, Joe McElhaney, James Naremore, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Dana Polan, Murray Pomerance, Robin Wood

This anthology is as boldly unfashionable as it is timely. Academic interest in Minnelli's films has tended to fluctuate with the rise and fall of interest in specific genres, particularly the musical and the melodrama. This is a book that I will undoubtedly use a lot when teaching a history of cricital studies in the cinema.

– Mike Walsh, Flinders University, South Australia

Vincente Minnelli: The Art of Entertainment is a major step forward in Minnelli scholarship that also adds immensely to our understanding of classical Hollywood cinema, genre film, and the studio system. A stellar gathering of contributors representing a wide variety of perspectives and areas of expertise deliver insight after insight in a highly readable collection that is a true intervention in the study of one of America's most underappreciated master directors."

– Gaylyn Studlar, Rudolf Arnheim Collegiate Professor of Film Studies, University of Michigan

McElhaney has culled together an impressive array of Minnelli criticism, which includes seminal essays as well as groundbreaking pieces. The Art of Entertainment is a major contribution to Minnelli scholarship."

– Arthur Noletti, professor of English at Framingham State College

Vincente Minnelli is one of the most versatile and vivacious directors to have worked in Hollywood, and Joe McElhaney's anthology pays tribute to his wide-ranging career. This ambitious collection, bringing together classic essays and freshly commissioned studies, not only confirms Minnelli's importance but also offers a comprehensive survey of critical approaches that have developed in film studies over the last thirty years."

– David Bordwell, Jacques Ledoux Professor of Film Studies Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison