An American in Paris

1951

Drama / Musical / Romance

3
IMDb Rating 7.2 10 26186

Synopsis


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932.04 MB
1280*932
English
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23.976 fps
1hr 54 min
P/S 12 / 29
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1472*1072
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 54 min
P/S 17 / 46

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bkoganbing 9 / 10

Experiencing Paris With Gershwin

Gene Kelly came up with some really grand ideas for musicals while with MGM. Here he's at the top of his creative powers working with the Arthur Freed musical unit. Hard to believe when you watch An American In Paris that the players never left the back lot at MGM.

The magic of An American In Paris is due to the creative editing under the direction of Vincent Minnelli and the sets that MGM designed blended with some background establishing shots. The idea of the film originated with Kelly who wanted simply to do a film with a lengthy ballet sequence involving George Gershwin's tone poem An American in Paris. It sounded good to Arthur Freed who approached Ira Gershwin who said fine with him as long as they used other Gershwin material.

Gershwin got the kind of deal for Gershwin music that Irving Berlin normally got. Not one note of non-Gershwin music is heard in An American in Paris. Listen to some of the background music and you will hear things like Embraceable You and But Not For Me which are not real musical numbers.

Another guy who was a fair hand at writing lyrics, Alan Jay Lerner, wrote the story which admittedly is a thin one. All about an ex-GI played by Gene Kelly who after World War II never left France, just settled into an apartment on the Left Bank and proceeded to become a starving artist. He lives with eccentric composer Oscar Levant and does that ever sound like a redundancy.

Two women are interested in him. Another expatriate American played by Nina Foch who wants to sponsor him as a painter if he'll reciprocate in other matters. But Kelly falls for a shop girl played by Leslie Caron in her film debut. Caron also has musical comedy star Georges Guetary interested in here.

Of course the plot is just an excuse to sing and dance to the music of George Gershwin. An American in Paris happens to be the first film I ever saw as an in flight movie on the first airplane trip I ever took. I still remember flying back from Phoenix Arizona to Kennedy Airport seeing Gene Kelly doing I've Got Rhythm. My favorite number in the film however is Tra-La-La which Kelly sings and dances all over the apartment with Oscar Levant playing the piano. At one point Kelly dances on top of the baby grand piano.

In a book about Arthur Freed, I read a quote where he said in the American in Paris ballet sequence was to be done with the background of the French impressionists which he felt the public would take to rather than a realistic setting on the streets or back lot. So it happened that way. Kelly had done lengthy ballet sequences in Words and Music, The Pirate, and On the Town. But this one topped them all. Still does in my opinion and that includes some of Gene Kelly's later films.

In a surprise upset at the Oscars, An American In Paris was chosen best picture for 1951, beating out the heavily favored A Streetcar Named Desire. I guess fantasy trumped realism that year. Big budgets also have an upper hand in these things as well.

Still An American in Paris is one of the best movie musicals ever done and since the studios no longer have all that creative talent under one roof, something less likely to be repeated.

Reviewed by Nazi_Fighter_David 10 / 10

A display of breathtaking colors dizzyingly romantic...

Vincente Minnelli directed some of the most celebrated entertainments in cinema history... He was among the first Hollywood directors to show that a profound love of color, motion and music might produce intelligent entertainment...

'American in Paris' is the story of an ex-GI who remains in France after the war to study and paint... He falls in love with a charming gamine Lise Bourvier... Their romantic love affair sparkles as brightly as the City of Lights itself... The whole movie brings a touch of French elegance where technique, artistic style and music all come together in perfect synchronism...

The first musical sequence introduces the exciting personality of Leslie Caron in her screen debut... She is like a diamond, a touch of class... George Guetary describes his fiancée ambiguous grace in a montage of different dance styles, sweet and shy, vivacious and modern, graceful and awesome... The number leads to an unpretentious bistro, where Kelly and his very good friends in Paris share a gentle parody of Viennese waltzes... Later Kelly celebrates a popular tap dancing with a crowd of enthusiastic children singing with him 'I Got Rhythm,' and at the massive jazz nightclub Kelly spots the girl of his dreams... He is instantly hit by her sparkling sapphire blue eyes, and only one clear thing is in his mind, to pull Lize onto the dance floor and sing to her: "It's very clear, Our love is here to stay."

To the joyful 'Tra-La-La,' Kelly provides humor, wit and talent all around Oscar Levant's room ,and even on the top of his brown piano...

When he meets his pretty Cinderella along the Seine river, Kelly is swept away by his happy meeting with Caron... He expresses all his emotions with 'Our Love Is Here to Stay.' The piece had a definite nighttime feel as the two lovers were bathed in soft, blue smoky light... They start an enchanting dance-duet juxtaposing differing elements... Caron dances with her head on his shoulder, then tries to run away in a fluid way... They move backward, away from each other, then pause to rush toward each other, for a little kiss, and a warm hug...

The film's weakest numbers were those that bear little relation to the story... In one, Georges Guetary performs an entertaining stage show with showgirls in giant ornaments floating down to the stage... In another, Oscar Levant imagines himself conducting a concert, and playing not only a piano recital, but the other instruments as well... He even applauds to himself as members of the audience...

The extravagant climactic super ballet of the film is quite an adventure, a breakthrough in taste, direction and design... It is a blaze of love, fury and vividness... It is Kelly's major fantasy of his lost love and of his feeling about Paris as viewed through the huge backdrops of some of France's most Impressionist painters...

The number starts at the Beaux Arts Ball after Kelly finds himself separated from Lise, and begins a sketch with a black crayon... It gathers the important parts of the film's story through a constantly changing locations, all in the style of the painters who have influenced Jerry... The tour, richly attractive and superbly atmospheric, includes the Place De la Concorde Fountain, the Madeleine flower market, the Place De l'Opéra, to his Rendez-Vous at Montmartre, with the cancan dancers in a representation of Lautrec's Moulin Rouge...

Kelly seems to defy the boundaries of his physical self... Caron seems to dominate her space and sweeps you away to another time and place...

Nina Foch appeared very attractive and elegant in her one-shouldered white gown... In one of the film's most famous lines, Kelly asks her: 'That's quite a dress you almost have on. What holds it up?" Nina, cleverly replies, "modesty!"

'An American in Paris' garnered six Oscars, including an honorary award to Gene Kelly... The film gave us a wealth of memories to take home...

Reviewed by 23skidoo-4 9 / 10

A trailblazing musical

An American in Paris was, in many ways, the ultimate mixture of art and Hollywood musical. Made at the height of MGM's powers as a musical powerhouse, the film features memorable music from the Gershwins, who rightly have been called the 20th Century's equivalent of Beethoven and Mozart.

Gene Kelly was also at the height of his powers in this film, though it could be rightly argued that this movie was just the warm-up for his best work in Singin' in the Rain (1952). The two films are actually closely linked. Aside from the Arthur Freed connection, the Broadway Melody segment in "Rain" owes its existence to the incredible American in Paris Ballet sequence in this film. This might well have been the only time a dance number is specially mentioned in the opening credits of the film. And it deserved to be, as it showcases Gene Kelly's skills as a dancer and choreographer to their utmost degree.

The film's cast is uniformly excellent. Leslie Caron, incredibly making her film debut, shows a maturity that makes you think she'd been making films for years. Her introductory dance sequence, and later her work on the Ballet, provides some surprisingly sexy moments rivalled in MGM Musicals only by Cyd Charisse's work in Singin' in the Rain and The Band Wagon. Oscar Levant is hilarious as Kelly's stoic pal, who gets two of the film's best moments: during the end party sequence (which I will not give away for anyone who hasn't seen the film), and one of the film's most memorable musical numbers which couples his incredible piano skills with state-of-the-art (for the time) special effects.

Less memorable are Georges Guetary as Kelly's romantic rival, though he does get a few musical highlights, and Nina Foch as Leslie Caron's romantic rival. The May-December relationship between Kelly's character and Nina's reminded me of the same "kept man" relationship seen between George Peppard and Patricia Neal in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

There are a few elements of the film that made it less satisfying for me than Singin' in the Rain. The Ballet, though lavish and well-produced, doesn't really fit with the rest of the movie. Without giving away the plot, the Ballet just happens, with no real rhyme or reason. And unlike the Broadway Melody sequence, it really doesn't have anything to do with the plot -- and in the best musicals, the songs always have some sort of raison d'etre.

Making matters worse is the ending of the film which happens immediately after the Ballet. Although the ending shouldn't be a surprise (this IS an MGM musical, after all), I was hoping for a bit more ... movie after the Ballet ended. It's as if director Vincente Minnelli felt that he couldn't follow the Ballet with anything else. The film literally left me in the lurch.

That negative aside, An American in Paris rightly ranks alongside the best of Hollywood's musicals. It doesn't quite reach the heights of Singin' in the Rain, but it comes close and it remains a testament to Gene Kelly's skills as one of the greatest dancers of all time.

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