Has to be one of the greatest films ever made, yes? Mise en scene & decoupage at their most expressive. This film goes so far out there in terms of framing, of shots reverberating wildly off each other. As always with V.M., style & spectacle are forces against time and domesticity. Vincente Minnelli is a painter, a self-reflective assessor of the world; here is a very rich, very powerful viewpoint.
Like Astaire, it moves a bit slow; age has caught up with him. And yet, it hasn't, for he is still lighter than air and 10x better than you'll ever be. Around him, the production inflates until the borders of the theater force its implosion. From the wreckage, cinema is born.
Damn it, this film got stuck in my head. The choreography! The music! The acting! I love it all. Even the small touches like the inclusion of the ensemble party or the stagehands playing cards add to the mastery. Beautiful, fun, romantic, lovely.
Choreography is ok but rest is not. too many cliches. "Triplets" sequence a little funny and mostly original. Nanette Fabray shines. Ava Gardner and Julie Newmar made a cameo. "Girl Hunt Ballet" scene inspired Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal.
We know this kind of 'delightful' touch with some of John Ford or Jean Renoir. See the last 3 cuts. Levant, Buchanan and Fabray starts singing along with a joy. Astaire and Charisse respond it by advancing towards the dollying camera then supporting casts follow up the middle part. Those five take over the rest with the camera gradually getting closer to them. A tiny grand finale.
It should be called Minnelli’s Faust, as the Mephistopheles character, Jeffrey Cordova, played by Jack Buchanan, was intended as something of a self portrait. Of course Astaire’s Tony Hunter, the Faust figure, doesn’t end up damned but happily partnered with his Margaret or Gretchen, embodied by Cyd Charisse and called Gabrielle Gerard, and dancing with the Devil himself in Top Hat and Tails, having changed his plan.
1953 movie with standout all-time classic "Dancing in the Dark" and a breathtaking bravura setpiece "Girl Hunt": not Minnelli's best, showy staging reveals lack of commitment in acting. But with commentary by Liza Minnelli: one of the great comedy/melodramas of our time.