Sunday, January 19, 2014

Family Movie Night: An American in Paris

Title: An American in Paris
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Original Release: 1951
Choice: Our Girl's
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
As discussed in my Singin' in the Rain post, Our Girl is a big Gene Kelly fan.  We had introduced An American in Paris to her a few years ago, just as her interest in dance was starting to take off, though we hadn't watched it in quite a long time.  A winner of six Academy Awards including Best Picture, An American Paris is a dazzling film both visually and musically. 



The story is inspired by the music of George Gershwin, particularly his great orchestral composition of the same name. Jerry Mulligan (Kelly) is an ex-GI who stayed on in Paris after the war to pursue an art career.  He's got woman troubles.  Heiress Milo Roberts (Nina Foch) is an enthusiastic champion of his work but is clearly interested in more than just his brushstrokes.  The object of his own pursuit is Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron).  Alas, Lise is involved with another man, eventually revealed to be Henri Baurel (Georges Gu├ętary), a successful singer and a friend of Mulligan's.  Meanwhile, mutual pal Adam Cook (Oscar Levant) mopes as he burns his way up and down the keyboard.

The love story's cute enough, but not the main selling point for the film.  That said, one refreshing difference with An American in Paris is that the romantic rivals, Milo and Henri, are both appealing and sympathetic.  They deserve happiness as much as the two leads do and one hopes in the end that they might find each other.

The strengths of the film are aesthetic - visually stunning, snatching up Oscars for art, cinematography and costumes.  Colors are vibrant and meaningfully implemented.  The music, of course, is top notch with the three men all applying considerable talent to the Gershwin classics.  Kelly choreographed the dancing, the highlight of which is a 16-minute ballet in the movie's final act.  Unlike Debbie Reynolds in Singin' in the Rain, Caron is perfectly capable of holding her own with Kelly on the dance floor.

20 comments:

  1. I haven't seen this one either, I don't think - sounds like a fun watch! I have watched a lot more classic film in the last little while, so maybe I'll come across this in my travels soon. :)

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    1. It's a lot of fun. I hope you'll share your thoughts if you do watch it.

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  2. Somehow this movie disappointed me after Singin' in the Rain. Oscar Levant was absolutely brilliant--Gene Kelly was great--but Leslie Caron was a wonderful dancer but suffered in the acting.
    Maybe I should watch it again?

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    1. No, I think that's a fair criticism. I prefer Singin' in the Rain, too. The music's not as good but the acting and story are definitely better. I actually found Nina Foch more appealing than Leslie Caron.

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  3. Your girl is a big Gene Kelly fan, but how does she feel about Hugh Jackman? ;)

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    1. Ha! Good question. Looking at his resume, I don't know if she's actually seen any Hugh Jackman movies, apart from his voice work in Happy Feet and Flushed Away. In fact, I've only seen Kate & Leopold. I've just seen him interviewed a lot.

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  4. Last year I fell in love with Kelly's Anchors Aweigh!. Still working on catching Singin' in the Rain, though.

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    1. Well, I've never seen Anchors Aweigh! We may need to hunt down more Kelly films before long so that'd be a good choice.

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  5. Dance movies and kung fu flicks both rely on choreography, and when it works it doesn't really matter what the rest of the movie's like. This one is pretty good all round.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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    1. I never thought about the comparison to kung fu films - undoubtedly true. I'm not sure I entirely agree with your broader point, though. There are movies with great dancing which otherwise aren't very good, at least in my opinion. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers comes to mind.

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  6. I've never seen this one from beginning to end, just excerpts.

    Laughing at your above mention of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers—you're so right about that one!

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    1. Music and dance highlights are the main draw for the film. The story is merely okay.

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  7. I too have never seen all of this movie from beginning to end. And I have no idea why ?
    But I so agree with the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.... hahahahahahahaha
    Couldn't get through that one.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Regarding 7B for 7B, I just find the story to be so ridiculously obnoxious - hard to get past it.

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  8. Would you believe I've never seen this movie? Somehow it kept slipping away from me when I was younger, and I was on a mission to see as many classics as I could. Now I'm lucky if I see any movies at all, lately.

    I really need to see this!

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    1. Yup, this one's essential viewing - at least for the dance and music highlights as previously noted.

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  9. It's been years, but I love the classics!

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    1. Yes! Thanks, Yolanda. Glad to see you've signed up for the Coffeehouse, too.

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