After a life of sin, Little Joe is fought over by the devil’s son and an angel; his devoted wife Petunia intercedes on his behalf. This musical with an all-black cast calls on the talents of Louis Armstrong (as an actor and musician) and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. –Locarno Film Festival
Vincente Minnelli (February 28, 1903 – July 25, 1986) was a Hollywood director and stage director. His skilled integration of story, music, lighting, and design elements in a film made him the most critically respected crafter of American film musicals. With first wife Judy Garland, he was the father of Liza Minnelli.
Born Lester Anthony Minnelli in Chicago, Illinois, United States, Minnelli was the youngest surviving child of Mina Mary LaLouette Le Beau and Vincent Charles Minnelli. His father was musical conductor of Minnelli Brothers’ Tent Theater. Minnelli’s Chicago-born mother was of French Canadian descent and his paternal grandfather was from Sicily.
With his background in theatre, Minnelli was known as an auteur who always brought his stage experience to his films. The first movie that he directed, Cabin in the Sky (1943), was visibly influenced by the theater. Shortly after that, he directed Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), during which he befriended the film’s star… read more
American director/choreographer Busby Berkeley made his stage debut at five, acting in the company of his performing family. During World War I, Berkeley served as a field artillery lieutenant, where he learned the intricacies of drilling and disciplining large groups of people. During the 1920s, Berkeley was a dance director for nearly two dozen Broadway musicals, including such hits as A Connecticut Yankee. As a choreographer, Berkeley was less concerned with the terpsichorean skill of his chorus girls as he was with their ability to form themselves into attractive geometric patterns. His musical numbers were among the largest and best-regimented on Broadway. The only way they’d get any larger was if Berkeley moved to films, which he did the moment films learned to talk. His earliest movie gigs were on Sam Goldwyn’s Eddie Cantor musicals, where he began developing such techniques as “individualizing” each chorus girl with a loving close-up, and moving his dancers all over the stage… read more