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An American in Paris

A movie directed by Vincente Minnelli

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S'wonderful...and s'marvelous

  • Jul 20, 2003
This is one of my favorite film musicals, together with Singin' in the Rain and Chicago. It received and richly deserved six Academy Awards in 1951, including one for best film. When you think about it, there are so many musicals which also offer delightful entertainment such as Meet Me in St. Louis, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Wizard of Oz, Show Boat, West Side Story, Cabaret, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, Carousel, All That Jazz, and The King and I. It has been 50 years since An American in Paris was released and longer than that since the Gershwin brothers collaborated on the songs and George Gershwin composed Concerto in F and An American in Paris. How remarkable that the film has held up so well over the years. When I first saw it (in 1951), I immediately envied Jerry Mulligan's lifestyle (Kelly), especially after he met and fell in love with Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron). He seems so at home in Paris, hanging out with his fellow American, friend, and neighbor Adam Cook (Levant) as well as with close friends among the Parisians such as Henri Burel (Georges Guetary). He also seems so popular with others within the area where he lives. The "I Got Rhythm" street scene number with his neighbors (especially the children) is thoroughly enchanting.

As for the plot, it is relatively simple: Boy meets girl, doesn't know she's a friend's girl, falls in love with her and (we suspect) she with him. After a while, they agree not to hurt his friend and part but are eventually reunited. As I said, a relatively simple plot. What sets An American in Paris apart from most other musicals are its great music and dancing, of course, but also an especially thoughtful and witty script by Alan Jay Lerner. (His screenplay earned him an Academy Award.)I also enjoy the dream sequences, notably when Cook imagines himself performing the Concerto in F and then later when Mulligan brilliantly dances his way through the title symphony. The exteriors in Paris shot by cinematographers John Alton and Alfred Gilks are certainly charming. Their work earned them an Academy Award. Director Vincent Minnelli probably received substantial assistance from Kelly who was the film's choreographer. In all respects, this film had a superior cast and crew.

Image and sound are certainly clearer in the DVD format. Regrettably, the "Features" which accompany this classic film are unworthy of it. Presumably their number and quality will soon be improved. With regard to this film's future, my guess (only a guess) is that this film will remain popular only so long as the Gershwins' music does. In other words, for a long time to come.

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More An American in Paris reviews
review by . February 21, 2011
When I first saw An American in Paris years ago I thought it was wonderful. I agreed with all the rave reviews. Now...well, let's say I don't think it has aged well.       For me, more than any other factor, it's Gershwin's music that gives the film the charm and spontaneity it retains. Even so, the music has to fight against Minnelli's and Kelly's desire to establish that the film is "artistically significant" and that Jerry Mulligan …
review by . December 16, 2008
It's easy to understand why this was voted
The winner of a phenomenal 6 Academy Awards "An American In Paris" is clearly one of the great musicals of all-time.  Gene Kelly plays a an ex-GI and struggling artist named Jerry Mulligan who is barely surviving in a tiny upstairs room in post World War II  Paris.  He has fallen head over heels for a lowly shopgirl named Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron) but unfortunately for Jerry the object of his affection is aleady spoken for.    …
review by . February 12, 2008
This movie is more than a classic, it is a masterpiece. The dancing numbers are phenomenal, Gene Kelly is an amazing dancer and the number one reason to watch this movie. Yes, the relationships seem fickle and not fitting, but who cares?! This musical is absolutely excellent. The movie includes an 17ish minute ballet choreography featuring Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly. One of my favorite performances in this movie is by Nina Foch, who plays the rich heiress who is sponsoring Kelly's character (a …
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Robert Morris ()
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An American in Paris is a 1951 MGM musical film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, and Oscar Levant, the film is set in Paris, and was directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner. The music is by George Gershwin, with lyrics by his brother Ira, with additional music by Saul Chaplin, the music director.

The story of the film is interspersed with show-stopping dance numbers choreographed by Gene Kelly and set to popular Gershwin tunes. Songs and music include "I Got Rhythm," "I'll Build A Stairway to Paradise," "'S Wonderful," and "Our Love is Here to Stay". The climax is "The American in Paris" ballet, an 18 minute dance featuring Kelly and Caron set to Gershwin's An American in Paris. The ballet alone cost more than half a million dollars, a staggering sum at the time.

A GI (Gene Kelly) stays in Paris after the war to become an artist, and has to choose between the patronage of a rich American woman (Nina Foch) and a French gamine (Leslie Caron) engaged to an older man. The plot is mostly an excuse for director Vincente Minnelli to pool his own extraordinary talent with those of choreographer-dancer-actor Kelly and the artists behind the screenplay, art direction, cinematography, and score, creating a rapturous musical not quite like anything else in cinema. The final section of the film comprises a 17-minute dance sequence that ...

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Director: Vincente Minnelli
Genre: Music, Musical
Release Date: January 1, 1951
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Alan Jay Lerner
DVD Release Date: June 6, 2000
Runtime: 1hr 53min
Studio: Warner Home Video
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