No studio embraced the artistic potential and infectious joie de vivre of the movie musical like MGM did in the 1940s and ’50s. Built from the stuff of dreams, the form became a showcase for some of the most versatile talents in classic Hollywood: triple-threat superstars like Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, who enchanted audiences with their charismatic performances; innovative directors like Vincente Minnelli and Stanley Donen, who staged one astonishing set piece after another in sumptuous Technicolor; and songwriters like Betty Comden and Adolph Green, who filled these movies with ear-wormy melodies. In the Criterion Channel’s biggest November program, we’re serving up nineteen of MGM’s most beloved musicals, a wide-ranging selection that includes the ambitious spectacles that defined the genre’s golden era (such as Minnelli’s Oscar-winning An American in Paris) as well as delightfully idiosyncratic deep cuts ripe for rediscovery (Don Weis’s I Love Melvin, which reunited Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor a year after Singin’ in the Rain). For a preview of the series, check out the teaser above, which packs as much fancy-free virtuosity as we could fit into one minute!
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Most Unusual Experiment
In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, scholar David Bordwell examines the deeply strange horror film Vampyr, which uses popular material as a springboard for innovations in mood and technique.