Yolanda and the Thief. 1945. USA. Directed by Vincente Minnelli. 108 min.
Screenplay by Irving Brecher, based on the story by Ludwig Bemelmans, Jacques Théry. With Fred Astaire, Lucille Bremer, Frank Morgan, Mildred Natwick. Dave Kehr writes, “Vincente Minnelli, a superb pictorialist as well as a great director, let his imagination run wild, and the result is a captivating, dreamlike film composed of startling, outrageous, and sometimes sublime images. It has nothing to do with good taste—and that may be the secret of its peculiar appeal. It's kitsch liberated, personalized, and intensified, to the point where taste drops out and the film becomes an act of crazy artistic courage.” Although Yolanda and the Thief was a commercial flop and the subject of derision for years thereafter—“It perhaps needs to be seen by anyone who wants to know what killed the MGM musicals,” Pauline Kael wrote with her poison pen—its fairy tale plot, about an heiress and the swindler who pretends to be her guardian angel, is articulated with a riotous visual splendor. With art direction and choreography inspired by Tiepolo, Miró, and Tanguy, especially in the dream ballet, Yolanda and the Thief took Technicolor’s already fantastical palette in thrillingly surreal directions. 35mm print from George Eastman House; courtesy Warner Bros.