Book Talk: Mark Griffin on the life & art of film director Vincente Minnelli
Past Event ....... March 9th, 2010 — 7:00 pm
Tuesday, March 9, 7 p.m. in Callahan Hall, author Mark Griffin will speak on his newly published book A Hundred or More Hidden Things, dealing with the life of film director Vincente Minnelli. Free. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing. For more information: 513-3135.
Writer Mark Griffin was born and raised in Lewiston and spent many hours as a teen wandering through the stacks of the Lewiston Public Library in search of books about his passion: classic movies.
He returns to LPL this month to talk about and sign copies of his own book, A Hundred or More Hidden Things, a hot-off-the-press 346-page volume dealing with the life of famed film director Vincente Minnelli. His presentation will take place Tuesday, March 9, at 7 p.m. in Callahan Hall, located on the library’s third floor, and is open to the public free of charge.
Vincente Minnelli’s genius as a film maker is widely acknowledged. The Oscar-winning director of such cinematic classics as Meet Me in St. Louis, An American in Paris, and Gigi, Minnelli infused his films and their characters with depth and complexity. That Minnelli was also married to Judy Garland (among others) and was Liza Minnelli’s father only added to his notoriety and mystique. Minnelli’s intense privacy regarding his personal life, including his sexuality, has long intrigued film aficionados. Hollywood historians and devotees of his work have interpreted Minnelli’s themes to be at least partly autobiographical, but until now the extent to which Minnelli’s life both shaped and is reflected in his films has remained unsatisfactorily explored.
Mark Griffin became fascinated with Vincente Minnelli and his work in 1984 when he discovered Minnelli’s second to last achievement, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Calling the incident “life-altering,” Griffin committed to piecing together every facet of Minnelli’s life in an effort to understand how his experiences were captured in his richly layered movies. As part of his research, Griffin interviewed over a hundred of the people closest to Minnelli-people whose relationships with him spanned decades and different areas of his life-including actors Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Lauren Bacall, and Angela Lansbury. A Hundred or More Hidden Things is the culmination of Griffin’s work – a comprehensive biography that illuminates Minnelli’s subtle, but unmistakable, autobiographical revelations.
As Griffin says in the introduction of his book, “Taking everything into account-the enigma of Vincente Minnelli as both an individual and an artist, his unconventional upbringing, an ambiguous sexuality, a show-business career that afforded him the opportunity to work with everyone from Josephine Baker to Jack Nicholson, long-concealed family secrets, and no less than Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli as supporting players-it’s truly astounding that Minnelli’s story has received so little attention.”
Griffin will illustrate his talk at LPL with a video-montage showing clips from several of Minnelli’s most popular films, enhanced by audio overlays of Griffin’s interviews with the actors, screenwriters and others familiar with the director’s work.
“It’s interesting how things in life come full circle,” says Griffin. “Many years ago, when I was a high school student and a cub reporter for the Sun Journal’s Academic Advocate, it was Rick Speer at the library who suggested that I write a weekly video review column for the Advocate, which I did for two or three years, often when I should have been doing my homework. Now, so many years later, I can say that that early training and experience has resulted in this published biography of a legendary Hollywood icon.”
Speer, director of the Lewiston Public Library, says “We are very privileged to be able to have Mark join us for this public program, not only so soon after the publication of his book but also on the heels of this Sunday’s annual Oscar Awards event, when people are already in â€˜movie mode.’” Minnelli’s films, in fact, captured numerous Academy Awards over the course of his career.
Mark Griffin’s essays, film reviews, and reporting have appeared in the Boston Globe, Out, Genre, and in several anthologies. Copies of his new book, released just this month by Da Capo Press, will be available for purchase and signing at the LPL event.
The Lewiston Public Library is located at 200 Lisbon Street, at the corner of Pine Street in downtown Lewiston. More information is available by contacting 513-3050 or 513-3135.
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