The purpose of cinema, according to the Hollywood director Vincente Minnelli, is to provide "a little magic."
And over 15 years - from the end of World War II through the 1950s - Minnelli did just that, giving the world three of its favorite movie musicals featuring stars such as Judy Garland (who would become his wife), Fred Astaire, and Gene Kelly.
But there was more up Minnelli's sleeve than song and dance. Though a master of Technicolor (Hollywood set designers even designated one shade of crimson "Minnelli red") and musical staging, he was just as effective with black-and-white dramas and romances.
Vincente Minnelli: A Little Magic is a series of eight Minnelli-directed classics showing at 6:30 p.m. Mondays and 1:30 p.m. Saturdays throughout May in the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault of the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
There are plenty of laughs, tunes, and emotions in this package.
May 5: Meet Me in St. Louis (1944: NR) Judy Garland grows up in turn-of-the-century St. Louis. Features the "Trolly Song."
May 7: Father of the Bride (1950: NR) Papa Spencer Tracy is going to give away his daughter (Elizabeth Taylor) ... if he can survive the wedding planning.
May 12: The Band Wagon (1953: NR) Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse star in a backstage satire. Introduces the song "That's Entertainment."
May 14: The Bad and the Beautiful (1952: NR) Ruthless Hollywood producer (Kirk Douglas) is recalled by those who hated and loved him.
May 19: Lust for Life (1956: NR) Kirk Douglas plays doomed artist Vincent Van Gogh. Almost as beautiful as a Van Gogh painting.
May 21: The Clock (1945: NR) Combat-bound GI (Robert Wagner) spends a two-day leave in NYC with a young woman (Judy Garland). Love ensues.
May 26: An American in Paris (1951: NR) One of the most glorious musicals ever, with Gene Kelly singing and dancing to a brilliant George Gershwin score.
May 28: Some Came Running (1958: NR) A veteran (Frank Sinatra) returns to his Midwestern small town in this "expose" of post-war American life. With Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine.