By RENOIR, JEAN; Durgnat, Raymond
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After scrutinizing the films, I started reading everything I could about Minnelli. I was interested in what made Vincente tick, not only as an artist but as an individual, though most of the information I could find about him focused almost exclusively on his directorial achievements. Before too long, references to auteur theories, surrealism, and Cahiers du cinéma began creeping into my conversation. I learned that although Minnelli had won an Oscar in 1959 (for his direction of Gigi) and several of his titles invariably turned up on lists of the Best Films Ever Made, he was more acclaimed in Europe than he was in his own country.
So I organized a search party. I knew that it would be necessary to conduct as many interviews as possible and get people talking. As Vincente had been the subject of so much speculation and rumor, hearing directly from those who actually worked with or knew him would be absolutely essential. Only this posed another set of challenges that I had been warned about. When I profiled the late screenwriter Gavin Lambert for a magazine, I mentioned that I was interested in writing about Minnelli and talking to as many of the director’s surviving colleagues as possible.
Some of this may have been attributable to “The Minnelli Gallery” of twitches, facial tics, and lip pursings—nervous habits that would become more pronounced over time—though the taunting young Lester received in school probably had more to do with his effeminacy than anything else. “He was quite flamboyant,” says Delaware historian Brent Carson. “He was very theatrical acting at times—even when he wasn’t acting. ”25 Lester’s preference for playacting and drawing over fishing and football also led neighbors to make certain assumptions.