Yolanda and the Thief

In Yolanda and the Thief, Vincente Minnelli made the best of what he himself called an “insane” plot, with some of the most exciting and original cinematic uses of color, decor, and modern ballet to date. The story is set in a mythical South American state, where a young heiress, Yolanda (Lucille Bremer), believing she has a guardian angle, is convinced by a shady gambler (Fred Astaire) that he is the very same, in (all-too) human form. Yolanda lives in the family mansion, converted from Spanish colonial baroque to neo-whimsy, a fantastic amalgam of romantic and religious symbolism, eccentric gadgetry, and sophisticated French surrealism. Hardly the place for a rogue's swindle, and Astaire dances in only to find the very thing that money can't buy.
Albert Johnson calls Yolanda and the Thief “the first film of the decade to revive interest in modern ballet for musicals.... (It) represents, to a very great degree, the producer's interest in merging the elements of modern art, dance, and photography with some revolutionary lyrical effect - an interest which was to result in An American in Paris. Minnelli of course was attracted by the possibilities offered in Ludwig Bemelmans' fantasy.... The colors all seem to be out of a child's paint box.... As complete fantasy, it has a charm unequalled by any other musical....” --in “The Films of Vincente Minnelli,” Film Quarterly (JB)

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