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On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

(Vincente Minnelli, USA, 1970)


 

The Impossible Musical

 

         I want to hold you

         But every time I try

         Something keeps you

         Out of reach

 

         I want to love you

         But every time I try

         Something keeps

         Love away

 

                   - Spain, “Every Time I Try”

 

 

In the quarter-century that I have been returning, off and on, to Vincente Minnelli’s penultimate film On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, two scenes have crystallised in my mind as standing for everything that is wonderful, and everything that is strange, in this truly maudit movie – a commercial failure in its day, enshrined in a standard reference book on the musical genre as a “confused mish-mash”, (1) little analysed even by the most serious Minnelli devotees, and yet to find its cult-audience niche beyond a handful of Barbra Streisand fans. (2)

 

1.

Here’s the first scene. The number “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have” that occurs at around ninety minutes is, in my opinion, Minnelli at his finest, working in tandem (as he frequently did) with a great performer. For Barbra Streisand gives a whole other axis to any mise en scène – even one by Minnelli. I mean this in a quite literal way: what she brought, as a performer, to her films of the 1960s and ‘70s was a certain play on exhaustion. Streisand frequently gives the impression of being about to collapse, on the verge of implosion – and how fitting this is for the weak-willed character she plays in Clear Day. But, just as she is crumpling up and sinking to the ground – her shoulders falling, her head drooping, her arms listless – she mimics the finding, or mining, of some indomitable energy within: she swells up, takes a step, begins to possess the frame and, indeed, the entire space of the décor. And then she wilts again, and then she flowers again – so fitting, once more, for a film with so many supernaturally blooming plants – over and over. Even her character name cues us into this: Daisy.

 

In fact, Minnelli cannily seized this aspect of Streisand’s performance style and made it the veritable mise en scène principle of his entire film, not merely its musical sequences. Look at the marvellous, constantly varied work he does with the shell-like, très moderne chair into which Daisy is squashed by her less-than-friendly hypno-psycho-therapist, Marc (Yves Montand): it is the physical, bodily emblem of her discomfort, oppression and passivity, until the dramatic moment when Daisy, transformed into her past self as Melinda, rears up in this seat (accompanied by a subtle, reframing camera movement upwards) and takes over the space.

 

“What Did I Have” is simpler, in its range and scope of elements, than many of the anthological musical sequences for which the public at large remembers this director – and yet its mastery of space and gesture is total, its use of significant props unflaggingly inventive, its accelerating and decelerating rhythms perfect. The scene is a soliloquy, one star singing to herself in Marc’s expansive office space – a set upon which Minnelli is able to ring many changes of mood and aspect throughout the film.

 

The roughly five-and-a-half minute song (including a spoken-word break and Daisy’s end of a telephone call) is staged across only three shots. The first, beginning with Daisy’s reaction to the tape recordings of her sessions with Marc that she has accidentally discovered, runs for three-and-a-half minutes. This is the predominantly exhausted/imploded phase of the song: Daisy trudges around the set, sits defeated in her usual chair, perches on the window ledge. In a neat transition between speech and song – always the hardest transition for any musical sequence to manage – Streisand delivers the first few lines in her broad, Jewish, comic drawl, before ascending into her usual vocal heaven. A cut on the very last word of the verse (“what did I have that I don’t have / now”) takes us into the second shot, as a quick tracking movement outwards makes Daisy small in the frame. During this fifty-four second shot, Daisy alternates between agitation and exhaustion as she talks to herself; music continues as underscore, but the song itself does not yet return. A visual cut on movement – a variation on the preceding cut within a sung phrase – gets us to the third shot, which lasts two minutes. Here both performer and camera become more frenzied, as the scene quickly recapitulates a number of the motifs that have been previously established in this space: Daisy spins the therapeutic chair in anger, and struggles to put on her coat. The confusion and desperation expressed in the line “where can I go?” is literally visualised in Daisy’s frantic exploration of the set, which now offers no points of rest.

 

Finally, Minnelli manoeuvres Streisand into a relative close-up in the foreground of the frame – relative, because he has filmed most of the preceding action with her entire body in frame, thus giving this mid-shot special emphasis – and then the scene suddenly breaks: the music stops for a moment, the camera turns around Streisand in the silence, and then she limps away into the depth of the shot and out the door as the music comes to its melancholic, diminuendo conclusion. There are so many dramatic or comic beats in this scene, so many expert spatial modulations and mood changes.

 

2.

Yet, for all this excellence, the scene points to a certain sense of strain that is evidently telling on the film, on Minnelli, and on the very genre of the American film musical at this perilous moment in its history.

 

On a Clear Day is an exceptionally clear case of what the Hollywood industry gingerly calls a troubled production. (3) It bled and suffered all the way to its premiere. A great deal of scripted material was later cut (either before or after shooting), as the plan for the film went from a long-form musical (divided by an intermission as in The Sound of Music [1965]) to one that clocks in at 129 minutes. Among this cut material is an alarming total of five songs (two entirely deleted, two trimmed, and one replaced by a less elaborate substitute) – surely a strange fate for a musical. (4)

 

To look at this in another, more sympathetic way, On a Clear Day is a transitional work – transitional not so much for Minnelli himself (his career was hastening to its end, a mere five years and one film away), but for the Hollywood that was taking, as it seemed, one last stab at a musical before giving up the ghost of the genre altogether. Another kind of dramatic realism, influenced by European art cinema – the realism of Altman, Lumet and Cassavetes – was beckoning to filmmakers in the ‘70s; and eventually, a different kind of fantasy, as ushered in by George Lucas and Star Wars (1977). Clear Day is a film that is already nervous – even ashamed – to be an old-fashioned musical; it is part of the scramble to in some way (any way) modernise the genre and align it with the assumed tastes and sensibilities of an audience primed on the ‘60s youth revolution – as signalled, for the film industry, by the stage success of Hair in 1967.

 

On a Clear Day, more clearly than most films, points in two directions. On the one hand, it places its bets on the assumed safe prospect of adapting a Broadway musical, as had George Cukor’s My Fair Lady (which, like Clear Day, had lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and extravagant costumes by Cecil Beaton) in 1964 and Wyler’s Funny Girl (Streisand’s film debut) in 1968 – nostalgic projects, with an airy, elongated, sometimes lumbering ‘stage aesthetic’ that seemed to drag the musical genre back to a moment well before the innovations of Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen, Busby Berkeley or Minnelli (let alone Jacques Demy).

 

Yet, on the other hand, Clear Day tries to look forward, to be somewhat new in its outlook and innovative in its approach. The sole big number, Montand belting out “Come Back to Me” from atop the Pan Am skyscraper, is an entirely modern conception of what a song sequence might be, comprised as it is of aerial telephoto shots, the Wellesian trick of skipping frames mid-shot, an array of special effects, and a vigorous montage structure.

 

However, the fact that this montage structure is based on a flagrant alternation – Marc and Daisy never being in the same space at the same moment, until the exasperated ending of the song – already begins to tell us something about why Clear Day seems such an unlikely project for a musical: an impossible musical in many senses, and on many levels.

 

3.

One index of the scramble in On a Clear Day, the “confused mish-mash” between classical and contemporary, is how little choreographed dancing there is to accompany the songs: we see the first signs here of the realist compromise that simplifies dance into simple, everyday gestures like walking, only lightly stylised for a casual, throwaway effect – or eliminates it altogether (a style that, decades later, we see everywhere from Alain Resnais’ Same Old Song [1997] to the popular American production High School Musical [2006] that spawned two sequels).

 

“What Did I Have” is a soliloquy. The song-type of the soliloquy has, historically, always been a feature of the musical genre; indeed, Minnelli had staged several notable examples, such as “The Boy Next Door” in Meet Me in St Louis. But now, in Hollywood’s frantic transitional search for a modern mode of musical, the soliloquy form suddenly became predominant, a kind of baseline option. It was an acceptable compromise between realism and artifice: people singing to themselves – and walking, swaying, not quite dancing as they did so – was deemed somehow more believable or acceptable to the jaded audience of 1970 than a conventional bursting-into-song-and-dance routine.

 

It would fall to Streisand herself, as a fledgling director over a decade later, to push this principle of the realist musical to its logical conclusion in Yentl (1983): there, the heroine no longer even sings to herself, she just thinks in song (music by Michel Legrand), while Streisand stands, sits, stares into a candle …

 

4.

Placing a film in its context of industrial production and mainstream audience reception is all well and good; but is there another, radically different way to understand and redeem the strangeness and the supposed mistakes of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever?

 

In a 1977 issue of the British magazine Movie devoted to the musical genre, a short piece by Jim Cook finds an ingenious logic in the film’s very “failure”: it fails, precisely, to ever become a musical because Daisy’s liberated self – and the liberation of self is almost always the prerequisite for song and dance in the Minnelli universe – is both locked up in the past (in Melinda) and postponed to the future (her meeting-in-reincarnation with Marc). (5) This comment recalls the general picture of Minnellian cinema that Richard Dyer once eloquently sketched:

 

[His] films address the problem of how to come to terms with the vivid urgency of the ideal against the drab necessity of living in the ordinary world. The films appear to have happy endings, in which either the ideal is realised or the character is reconciled to everyday life – yet these endings are only apparently happy. The keenness of the longing for the ideal lingers in the mind, leaving a dark undertow to even the most glittering of his musicals. It is as if the effort of imagination required to see that reconciliation between the ideal and the everyday eludes Minnelli, and more often than not he makes only a mere token gesture towards the solution. (6)

 

It is with this fruitful idea of the presentation of a gap in Minnelli – between the ideal and the real, between a dream and its fulfilment, between romantic fusion and frustrating separation – that I wish to start over again on On a Clear Day.

 

All the throwaway dismissals of the film harp on the clash of musical textures – and hence the supposed miscasting – that is at the heart of the project: the placing of Streisand against Montand. Indeed, it is hard to imagine two more contrasting vocal styles: Montand’s quiet, jazz-inflected crooning versus Streisand’s powerhouse, virtuosic dynamics. We are light years away already, here, from the musical genre’s ingenious way of blending Frank Sinatra with Bing Crosby in High Society (1956), or Sinatra (again) with Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls (1955). Montand, of course, never successfully cracked Hollywood as a musical star: both this film and Cukor’s Let’s Make Love (1960) are monuments to his inadaptability to American cinema’s norms (which signals a problem with Hollywood, not with Montand, of course!). Every viewer, now as in 1970, takes the film as a vehicle for la Streisand; Montand is inserted merely as a necessary buffer, filler or foil. Musically, she’s the future while he’s the past.

 

But surely the most telling, and peculiar, thing about this dual star casting is that Montand and Streisand never sing together, in a duet – even if, in its final scene, Marc passes the theme tune over to Daisy and, in the longer version, was also given an opportunity to reprise Daisy’s “He Isn’t You” as “She Isn’t You” – but neither of these musical connectives offer much beyond only a very attenuated, merely associative form of duet. Streisand and Montand remain as separate, as split apart, as their characters Daisy and Marc, from first scene to last – with only a fantasy flash (in Marc’s mind) giving a few fleeting glimpses of the pair (as Marc/Melinda) even dancing together. Romantic comedies past and present routinely play upon a mounting sense of frustration and deferment in their target spectators – but is rare indeed to have a supposedly feel-good movie like On a Clear Day in which the lovers do not manage to get together at all, and their final separation is meant to carry the requisite feel-good vibe. Once again, we are faced with the intriguing question of Minnellian interpretation: is this discrepancy in Clear Day just an unfortunate blunder, a miscalculation – or something far more intriguing and compelling?

 

5.

It is necessary to place On a Clear Day within a different, more inventive and less expected generic context – not the musical comedy, but a network of narratives that cross several genres, all dealing with unsynchronised lovers. From the Surrealist favourite Peter Ibbetson (1935) and Joseph Mankiewicz’s classic The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947), all the way to Jacques Rivette’s Story of Marie and Julien (2003), Julio Médem’s Lovers of the Arctic Circle (1998) and the Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock tearjerker The Lake House (2006, a remake of the Korean Il Mare [2000]), by way of films as singular as Alain Resnais’ L’Amour à mort (1983), as sublime as Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire (1987), as perverse as Jonathan Glazer’s Birth (2004), and as peculiar as Alan Rudolph’s Made in Heaven (1987) or Monte Hellman’s planned project Love or Die: many different story formats have been tried out to portray the dilemma of lovers fated to never be together in the same time, space, or level of reality.

 

The relationship between a ghost (or an angel) and a human; between people stranded in two different moments in time (yet still able, magically, to communicate with each other); between a person who has survived the death of their partner, and that partner returning in a seemingly reincarnated (usually younger) body … the variations multiply, and it is notable how this trans-generic template of the supernatural romance, fated to impossibility, truly crosses the line between the fluffiest comic entertainments (Minnelli had himself grazed this terrain once before in Goodbye Charlie [1964], where a tough guy reincarnates as a woman) and the most elevated art films: just the sort of mixed cultural space where, as James Naremore has argued, Minnelli needs (and aspired) to be placed. (7)

 

Back in 1973, discussing Bells Are Ringing (1960), Raymond Durgnat suggested that what makes certain films, designed mainly for the purpose of entertainment, so keenly interesting is the intuitive way that, while “accepting all that is true in the conformist myth”, they nonetheless “reveal at least the outlines of those parts of reality against which the myth is braced”. (8) We can put this suggestive formulation another, quite concrete way: how hard is the problem that a narrative sets itself, in the terms of the complications (moral, ethical, socio-political) that it must struggle to either satisfyingly resolve, or successfully wriggle out of? The more impossible the central dilemma of a story, the more likely we are to feel the gap or discrepancy between its symbolic problem, and the standard ideological solution that will, more or less inevitably, be trotted out. One of the hallmarks of Minnelli’s cinema (Brigadoon [1954] is exemplary in this regard) is the immense difficulty of the central problem to be solved, and the tendency to fudge its solution, to end on a faintly unconvincing or diffusely melancholic note. This is a hallmark, too, of Alan Jay Lerner as a lyricist, as Martin Sutton has pointed out: his scripts for Brigadoon, Clear Day and An American in Paris [1951], like his libretto for Camelot, all deal with the “less happy areas of romanticism: the virtual impossibility of realising one’s dreams, and the vast difficulties involved in permanent and meaningful communication between people”, resulting in a “low-key wistfulness that verges at times on anguish”. (9)

 

On a Clear Day stretches to the breaking point its central plot contradiction: namely, the fact that who Marc loves is not Daisy but Melinda. This is a rare convolution, even for supernatural romances. It sets the central protagonists at painful cross-purposes: the more that Daisy becomes confident in her self (a growth triggered, nominally, by the conquest of her smoking addiction), the more she entertains the fantasy that Marc is attracted to her for who she is – rather than for the other self that she also is, or rather was, in a previous life. And when she finally discovers the truth, she is devastated. In this sense, the film drags in a standard complication from un-supernatural romantic comedies: a love relation that is based on a misunderstanding or (in psychoanalytic parlance) misrecognition, and then on the deceit that is necessary to maintain that misunderstanding. Of course, the misrecognition goes only one way in Clear Day: it is Marc, the rational man of science, who holds all the cards of knowledge, while Daisy acquiesces as his hypnotised subject – and it is fascinating indeed to watch contemporary audiences squirm at such a flagrant, diagrammatic exposure of the inequality and non-reciprocity between the sexes, something that the film simultaneously avows, explores, and milks some easy, conservative laughs from (as in the moments where, despite Daisy’s explicit protests, Marc is able to reduce her to passivity with a single hypnotic-cue gesture).

 

6.

How could any film comfortably get out of this mess and find its way to a happy ending? One interpretation of the film aligns it with the prevalent confusion between the spheres of dream and reality that structures many Minnelli works: Dyer notes that the film “never reveals whether her memories are real, or products of her fertile imagination, or fantasies put to her by the hypnotist” – thus anticipating more recent cultural anxieties over repressed versus planted memories in psychotherapy – and this confusion continues the tradition in Minnelli whereby “always the question of illusion, of what is real and what is not real, remains unanswered, perhaps unanswerable”. (10) The solution that the film does explicitly offer for its central dilemma is patently weak, a handy safety-valve or exit-strategy, since it results in no actual on-screen moment of communal satisfaction: Marc learns (again with his subject under hypnosis) that he and Daisy will one day get together in another, future lifetime – cueing the proto-New Age bromide that, just as Daisy is, after all, a “remarkable woman”, thus we all “contain multitudes”, we are all remarkable people, somewhere and somehow.

 

Yet this resolution is hardly enough to wipe away the viewer’s memory of the far more vivid scenes that gave voice to Marc’s bitterness and disappointment that the woman before him on the analyst’s couch is not “the dream Melinda” (to quote his song “Melinda”). The film’s ostensible effort to bolster the modern ideology of selfhood thus ends up with the more disquieting suggestion that selves can scarcely get themselves together, let alone rendezvous successfully with their appointed Others.


Let us return, in this light, to the songs of Clear Day. In their various forms of oddness and ill-fittingness – and if liberated from judgement in conventionally generic terms, against some spurious classical ideal of a Golden Age well-made musical – they in fact play out every manifestation of split and non-alignment between, and even within, the characters. “What Did I Have” is a linguistic masterpiece by Lerner, full of complications, paradoxes and shifters of tense, address and gender: (11) “Wouldn’t I be the late, great me if I knew how?”, sings Daisy. In the rather casually conceived and staged Streisand number “Go To Sleep”, Daisy splits into two incarnations (her naïve, dreamy self and her rather more worldly conscience, glimpsed nowhere else in the film) and dialogues testily with herself. “Come Back To Me” turns every available man, woman, child and animal out on the streets of the big city into vessels for Marc’s sung entreaty to Daisy. And, beyond the musical sequences, a particularly psychedelic moment translates the confusion of Daisy’s repressed memories into a wild superimposition of various, flailing Melinda’s in different costumes during different court trials.

 

The only refuge from – or compensation for – such agony of split selves is provided by a very Minnellian phantasm: the dream of romantic fusion with another person – something that is also the crucial motor force of many supernatural romances (as in Peter Ibbetson, where the nocturnal union of a brutally separated man and woman within a mutual dream-space is only ever interrupted by the ‘thunder of the world’ and the spectre of death). This brings us to “Love With All the Trimmings”. To fill out the mute images that accompany this thought-song, Minnelli gives us a back-and-forth, shot/reverse-shot depiction of a seduction: in a crowded, lavish dining hall, Melinda and Robert Tentrees (John Richardson) have eyes only for each other, and she is going to make sure his eyes do not stray. So we are treated to an agonisingly drawn-out alternating series – eighteen shots in all – which Minnelli keeps stepping up in intensity in various ways: zooms, closer reframings, glamour lighting and cinematography, and especially Streisand’s orgy of scintillating gestures (batting her eyes, drawing her drinking glass down over her breasts, etc).

 

It is hard to experience this spectacle as anything other than the highest of high camp (it has surely provided the many drag queen impersonators of Streisand worldwide with prime material). However, the scene comes with an intriguing coda or reprise that puts it in a different, richer perspective. After an intermediate discussion with Winnie Wainwhistle (Irene Handl), Melinda’s seduction effort proves successful; Tentrees enters her room. As the song returns (with still no mouthing of the lyrics), Minnelli engineers a very particular kind of grand screen kiss: the bodies merge, the mouths meet, and the camera traces an almost complete circle around the new lovers. Retroactively, the principal function of that endless alternation between Melinda and Tentrees was to create a tension very specific to cinema: we long for the coming-together of these figures, at the same moment that we are reminded of the seemingly unbridgeable distance between them. (Four decades on, Wong Kar-wai would prove himself to be the modern master of this exquisite form of sentimental tension.)

 

So, what is at stake in this kiss – and what makes it so quintessentially a cinematic phantasm? It is precisely a moment that aims to capture and communicate total fusion. But such fusion, in as much as it figures as an absolute, Romantic ideal for cinema and popular culture generally, also presents itself as a formidable limit – an impossibility.

 

7.

It has long been established in cinema theory and criticism – thanks to the work of Raymond Bellour, Virginia Wright Wexman and Rick Altman (12) – that classical narrative cinema works by a process of separation in order to ensure ultimate fusion: a man and a woman (in the standard gendered form) are set into distinct, alternating trajectories, in order that they can finally be brought together, happily and harmoniously, in the final scene or shot. In relation to the specific example from which he derives many of his analytical intuitions and principles – Minnelli’s Gigi (1958) – Bellour concludes: “we have here a film that constantly and throughout varies the principle of alternation which constructs it, through an effect of reflection and reciprocal implication between its different levels”. (He also notes that a general alternating structure is “pretty much characteristic of the genre of musical comedy”.) (13) Although Clear Day, in the form that we have it, undoubtedly falls rather short of the classical perfection that Bellour found in Gigi, the film certainly multiplies its alternations and separations on the micro-levels of its mise en scène as much as on the macro-levels of its plot – and, indeed, it invents even more fanciful multiplications of character (as we have seen), thanks to its psychoanalytic and supernatural-inflected premise.

 

There will, however, always remain an aporia at the heart of this mechanism: impossible fusion, which would entail (at its logical, mad extreme) the dissolution of individual beings, and perhaps the disappearance of the very spatio-temporal co-ordinates that make cinema itself possible. On the level at which Minnelli works on the problem of fusion – the staging and filming of the kiss between Melinda and Tentrees – this impossibility asserts itself forcibly. Narrative-representational cinema has always hit this limit: how can it show a kiss, an embrace, or the sexual act, as a oneness, as fused ecstasy – how can it show any such thing from within (as it were) its experience? All that cinema has recourse to, finally, is the usual bag of tricks, artifices and conventions: the dissecting trope of shots and reverse-shots (alternating close-ups of each lover’s face upon the shoulder of the other); accelerated montage; or (Minnelli’s preference here) the totalising movement of a camera that sweeps everything up into the figure of a self-contained, circular universe.

 

The underlying “low-key wistfulness” of Minnelli’s œuvre has much to do with this: the inevitable demonstration that a dream of fusion is fated to always fall away into its component parts – the separate times, spaces, bodies, shots, and voices of baseline phenomenal reality. And On a Clear Day, across all its giddy levels and bits and pieces, offers one of his most poignant demonstrations and explorations of this profoundly philosophical truth.

 

8.

We have at last arrived at the second moment that, for me, has always crystallised this strange film. It involves a simple, entirely familiar editing device: in fact, another shot/reverse-shot volley. Occurring quite calmly around eighty minutes in, after various plot convolutions and revelations have already surged and waned, the scene poses a conversation between Marc in his space (the study, present-day) and Melinda in hers (a bedroom in the past). What a mind-boggling cinematic conjunction this is! Thanks to the standard illusion installed by reverse-field cutting, we (unconsciously) assume that these characters are looking at each other – and hence, into each other’s worlds. But, of course, no such thing is rationally possible. Marc is, in fact, gazing at a comatose Daisy in another part of his own room; so what he is seeing at this moment (if he’s seeing anything) can only be his fantasy-superimposition. If so, then where is Melinda, and what is she seeing? What is her reality-status, exactly? She is actually speaking – from out of Daisy’s body – so cannot entirely be simply Marc’s fantasy-projection. In a sense, the phantom Melinda is projecting, and hence giving ephemeral reality to, her world as she imagines (or remembers) it. And meanwhile, the dream-dialogue simply goes on, cutting back and forth, as if none of these conceptual complications really matter one jot …

 

It could be a scene from a Raúl Ruiz film, where divided characters often converse serenely or banally between incompossible worlds. But what it most reminds me of, in its melancholic, twilight hush, is not the droll, ludic humour of Ruiz, but Eugène Green’s Le Pont des Arts (2004). In its own, unusual way, this film is also a musical, albeit of a highly classical, highbrow sort: many scenes are devoted to sublime choral singing. Green’s story concerns a woman’s suicide, and the effect it has on her remaining, living acquaintances. The film ends on a magical dialogue between a living man and the ghost (or fantasy-projection) of the dead woman; it happens in the perfectly everyday, outdoor setting of the Pont des Arts in Paris. What makes this scene so affecting is the straightforward way in which Green frames and stages it: each character stands perfectly still, within their own reality, and addresses the camera that is in the place of the Other; when the two shots are cut together in the usual reverse-field way, Green creates a stark, impossible, but entirely convincing face-off of separate, incommensurable worlds, our world and a world elsewhere.

 

This spectacle may be closer, in its inspiration, to Bresson than Minnelli. But would we feel its pathos so strongly unless On A Clear Day You Can See Forever had not already – to paraphrase what Geoffrey Nowell-Smith once said of Max Ophüls’ Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) (14) – laid out the problem for us in all its poignancy, and left it tremblingly unresolved?

 

 

A longer version of this essay appears in Joe McElhaney (ed.), Vincente Minnelli: The Art of Entertainment (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2009), pp. 374-393.

 


MORE Minnelli: The Band Wagon, Madame Bovary, The Pirate, Some Came Running

 

NOTES

1. Clive Hirschhorn, The Hollywood Musical (London: Octopus, 1981), p. 396. back

2. A notable exception is Raymond Bellour, Le corps du cinéma (Paris: P.O.L., 2009), pps. 384-386. Also worth consulting is Emmanuel Burdeau, Vincente Minnelli (Paris: Capricci, 2011), pp. 274-278. back

3. For accounts of the film’s production, cf. Vincente Minnelli (with Hector Arce), I Remember It Well (London: Angus & Robertson, 1974), pp. 364-367; and Stephen Harvey, Directed by Vincente Minnelli, pp. 286-288. back

4. Most of the information about the initial, longer version of Clear Day comes from the invaluable research made available on the website The Barbra Archives, devoted to Streisand’s career; audio clips of several cut songs can be consulted there. back

5. Jim Cook, “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever”, Movie, no. 24 (Spring 1977), pp. 62-63. back

6. Richard Dyer, “Minnelli’s Web of Dreams”, The Movie, no. 58 (1981), pp. 1153-1154. back

7. James Naremore, The Films of Vincente Minnelli (Cambridge University Press, 1993). back

8. Raymond Durgnat, “Bells Are Ringing”, in Gregg Rickman (ed.), The Film Comedy Reader (New York: Limelight, 2001), p. 236. back

9. Martin Sutton, “Brigadoon”, Movie, no. 24 (Spring 1977), pp. 57-58. back

10. Dyer, “Minnelli’s Web of Dreams”, p. 1154. back

11. See Lesley Stern’s analysis of Lerner’s lyrics for a song in My Fair Lady, in “Acting Out of Character: The Performance of Femininity”, in Susan Sheridan (ed.), Grafts: Feminist Cultural Criticism (London: Verso, 1988), pp. 25-34. back

12. Cf. Raymond Bellour, L’Analyse du film (Paris: Éditions Albatros, 1979); Virginia Wright Wexman, Creating the Couple: Love, Marriage, and Hollywood Performance (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994); Rick Altman, The American Film Musical (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987). back

13. Janet Bergstrom, “Alternation, Segmentation, Hypnosis: Interview with Raymond Bellour”, Camera Obscura, no. 3-4 (1979), p. 83. back

14. Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, “Minnelli and Melodrama”, in Christine Gledhill (ed.), Home is Where the Heart Is (London: British Film Institute, 1987), p. 73. back

 

© Adrian Martin January 2007 / June 2014


Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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