An American in Paris (1951) – Vincente Minnelli


Gene Kelly singing and dancing to the music of George and Ira Gershwin, sounds perfect and entertaining. And this Best Picture winner is definitely entertaining, and my next recommendation from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book for my screening of Singin’ in the Rain.

I feel bad, because I know this is one of those films that I should love, I mean it’s gone Gene Kelly, and his choreography, it has great music, and fine performances by the cast, but and this is going to sound weird for a musical, but it lacks energy to me. I know I’m in the minority on this one, and that’s fine, but for me it feels like a trial to get through, despite the great set-up.

Kelly is Jerry Mulligan, ex-GI turned painter after the war, and stayed on in Paris – where else would he get such inspiration? He’s aided by Milo Roberts (Nina Foch) who loves his art, and wants to be his sponsor him, she sets him up in a studio and plans on throwing a showing together for him. She also has a bit of thing for him.

Jerry, however, has fallen for Lise (Leslie Caron), and she in turn begins to fall for him, despite being in a relationship with Jerry’s new friend Henri (Georges Guetary), while his good pal, Adam (Oscar Levant – who reminds me a bit of Matthau in this) pounds the piano.

Sounds like it could be high on the comedy, the musical numbers, and the romance, and it gets at one of those right at all times, but never more than that. Missed opportunity.


It’s more of a gentle romance, as opposed to a toe-tapping sing-a-long, and it seems to suffer for it. Well, for me it does. I thought, perhaps, that this one would grow on me with age – the first time I watched it I was in uni, and despite doing my best to get through it, it couldn’t hold my attention.

Today was the same thing. It just doesn’t hook me.

A moment that could have been priceless, and honestly, is Adam learning that Jerry and Henri are talking about being in love with the same woman. Imagine if the entire story had been told from his point of view with the occasional romantic glance towards the couples as he tries to keep his two friends from discovering the truth about one another.

The dance sequences are strong, and Kelly does a fine job, heck, the final dance number is without any dialogue or lyrics and runs for twenty minutes, it’s lovely, experimental, directed solely by Kelly and is a brilliant showcase, but, again, sadly, didn’t captivate me.

I’m not saying all musicals need to be fun and joyous like Singin’ in the Rain, I know they aren’t but this one just doesn’t do it for me.

Sorry Gene.



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