Minnelli: Hollywood’s Dark Dreamer–Review

Publishers Weekly Review

Former Variety critic Levy has written nine books on film, including All About Oscar and John Wayne. In the first full-length comprehensive biography of film director Minnelli (1903-1986), Levy unveils a compelling portrait. A “lonely, awkward, painfully shy boy,” Minnelli was born into show business because his father and uncle operated a touring theater company. In New York, during the 1930s, Minnelli graduated from costume and set designs to directing. After a decade on Broadway, he was sent by producer Arthur Freed to MGM, where Minnelli’s stylish and exuberant élan captivated audiences for the next 25 years. Meet Me in St. Louis became a huge WWII home-front hit, establishing Minnelli as a major Tinseltown talent. Levy delivers an outstanding chapter on the making of that film and how it brought Minnelli and Judy Garland together: “Judy could never separate professional from emotional relationships, and that kind of blend–or confusion, if you will–was at the very foundation of her marriage to Minnelli.” Levy’s exhaustive research taps into three key sources: the Special Minnelli Collection at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; letters and documents kept by Minnelli’s widow, Lee Anderson Minnelli; and various drafts of Minnelli’s 1974 memoir, I Remember It Well. Along with coverage of memorable musical and nonmusical films, the work tells Minnelli’s personal life with illuminating insight. Levy captures the color, verve and panache of the director’s life and legacy in high-gloss Hollywood. (April 14, 2009)