Monday, February 28, 2011

Liza Minnelli & Ingrid Bergman in A Matter of Time (1976)

Obscurity factor: 10

This film tells the story of Nina (Liza Minnelli), a simple girl from the Italian country side who comes to Rome to work as a maid in a run down hotel. There she meets the Countess Sanziani (Ingrid Bergman), an extravagant woman at the end of a remarkable, full life. The Countess teaches Nina how to live.
This film has the distinction of being Vincente Minnelli's last. It's interesting to see Liza, so young and fresh and know that she had this lovely, golden opportunity to be directed by her father. Unfortunately, he wasn't in top form, and eventually lost control, and ultimately, final cut on the production, and it suffers from a skewed point of view. There are flashes of brilliance in the film and the charm of both the Minnellis shine through, as does that of Ms. Bergman. Perhaps, the most delightful aspect is the message that the Countess impresses upon young Nina - be yourself, the world worships originality. Look for Charles Boyer in a small role as the Countess' husband and Isabella Rosselini as a nun.
This film has yet to make it to DVD. It was released on VHS and there are copies of it floating around. You can also watch it on YouTube. Installment one is above, uploaded by BroadwaytoRio. It's rarely aired on TV, though I did catch it on TCM during a tribute to Liza Minnelli. The poster above is available at

Obscurity factor: 10 (largely forgotten, not on DVD, available on YouTube and VHS)


  1. I have this on a repurposed-from-the-library VHS, but I've never had the courage to watch it. But thanks to you, I might brave it.

    I remember a long-ago TV ad for it with Liza singing the line, "It's just a matter of time ...", yet I've never heard this film spoken of as a musical.

  2. Well, it's sort of loosely a musical - there are three numbers in it. The number that line is from opens the film and is really delightful - it's a composite of the films the lead character is supposed to have been making at the time, and a wonderful pastiche of periods and settings that hint at the story lines of the films.