(...)"Q. I would like to talk a little bit about Yolanda and the Thief (1945). First of all, how did the studio react to surreal sequences? Did it stand them on their heads?
A. Well - yes. It wasn’t successful with the audiences. It got its money back and showed a small profit, but any picture did in those days. [MGM production unit head and producer Arthur] Freed (1894-1973) did that and Freed brought me together with [Madeleine author Ludwig] Bemelmans (1898-1962). It was the kind of thing that Bemelmans would write: A con man posing as a guardian angel – which shocked most of the critics at the time. Nowadays it wouldn’t matter if he were a murderer.
But surrealism is present in most of my pictures.
Q. Would you care to elaborate?
A. Sure. In the Thirties, when I was in New York, I did the first surrealistic ballet in a show of mine. The choreography was done by Balanchine. Dali was the great painter then and surrealism was a way of life.
It followed a long time later – Freud, dreams, the inconsistency of dreams. It struck me that it was the sensation of life. I used it whenever I could.
Q. In Yolanda, the whole film has an airy, dream-like quality where you’d be willing to believe, or that it is not illogical to believe, that Fred Astaire could be, a guardian angel.
A. She was raised in a convent with nuns and so forth and didn’t know how to take care of her vast wealth and prayed to her guardian angel for guidance. And he [the con man] overheard her.
Q. How did Astaire react to the exoticism.
A. He was marvelous about it. He liked it very much."(...)