Starring: Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant
Director: Vincente Minelli
Gene Kelly had an idea about a balletic dance sequence set to a Gershwin song, and An American In Paris was born.
It centres around three friends just after WW2, who are trying to find work and make ends meet in Paris, when two of them happen to fall for the same girl. Kelly plays an ex-GI who now works as a painter. He catches the eye of a wealthy benefactress, but resists a romance with a woman where he’d be taking advantage, instead he falls for a lovely young girl who resists his advances, who he is unaware is in a similar dependant relationship with his friend. This young shop girl is the lovely Leslie Caron in her debut role, and she, much like Kelly, is a delight.
It’s A Must See Because: The whole film is a Gershwin confection from start to finish, and I love the sets and the evocation of a city of light and romance in a way that is quintessentially 50’s in tone and style. Pure fantasy and escapism. Kelly always has such lovely energy and enthusiasm, and the dance numbers here are very innovative. It beat Streetcar Named Desire that year at the Oscars, to win Best Picture in the year it came out, and swept up quite a few other awards as well. It’s sometimes criticised for the lightness, or thinness of plot, but it doesn’t really matter. You see it for the music, and dancing, the romancing…
If you look at the reviews of this film in IMDB, I love that so many people mention where they were when they first saw this film. It’s one that stays with people, like a defining moment that has a life before, and a life after. Lovely.
See It If: Ok, so this is one for those of you who already love musicals and dance numbers, but if you haven’t already seen it, you’ll like this one.