Monday, May 2, 2011

Review: An American In Paris (1951)

IMDb Synopsis: Jerry Mulligan, a struggling American painter in Paris, is "discovered" by an influential heiress with an interest in more than Jerry's art. Jerry in turn falls for Lise, a young French girl already engaged to a cabaret singer. Jerry jokes, sings and dances with his best friend, an acerbic would-be concert pianist, while romantic complications abound.

There is only one word that can describe my reaction to this film: Wow. I'm usually, not one for musicals, but this was just spectacular.

I think Vincente Minnelli is on his way to being one of my top twenty directors now. Everything about An American In Paris is just beautiful- Minnelli's direction is one reason alone to watch it, along with the Oscar-winning color cinematography, and the seventeen-minute ballet sequence (which took a month to film and cost half a million dollars).

I'll admit I'm still relatively new to Gene Kelly- prior to this I had only seen Singin' In the Rain. I did, however, enjoy his performance as Jerry Mulligan and am now interested to see more of his musicals, especially the ones he did with Frank Sinatra. An American In Paris also marked the debut of French actress and dancer Leslie Caron, who did remarkably well not only in her acting, but in her dancing as well.

Minnelli's masterpiece is memorable for so many reasons- the ballet sequence and Caron's debut being just two of them. But it's also one of few musicals to win the Academy Award for Best Picture- a handful of others being Gigi (also starring Caron), West Side, Story, My Fair Lady, and The Sound of Music. Would I choose it as being the best film from 1951? Well, no- I'm saving that honor for The African Queen and A Place In the Sun. But I do think it deserved the nomination, along with the other seven nominations and five wins it received.

If it isn't already obvious, An American In Paris receives much praise from this blogger. I would definitely recommend seeing Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in this musical masterpiece if you haven't already done so.

5/5 stars

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