An American In Paris

(USA, 1951, 115 mins, DCP)
Director:
CAST Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Nina Foch
Classification: PG
Sunday’s screening introduced by film scholar and educator Michael van den Bos

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As a masterpiece of the Hollywood musical tradition, An American in Paris truly shines, remaining as fresh and exciting today as it was in 1951. Gene Kelly stars as Jerry Mulligan, an American expat trying to succeed as a painter in Paris. His happy lifestyle is shaken when he must deal with the effects of two new women in his life—the young Leslie Caron (discovered by Kelly for the film) and an older art patron (Nina Foch). With music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, the film takes this straightforward love triangle to dazzling new heights—complemented by the sensual and colorful costumes, sets, and choreography. Consisting of numbers such as “I Got Rhythm,” “’S Wonderful,” and “Our Love is Here to Stay,” An American in Paris is filled with both exuberant fun and soft romanticism.

The exquisite climactic extended ballet, directed by Kelly, stands alone as an impressive feat of cinematic and choreographic techniques. In the now famous sequence, Kelly, Caron, and an ensemble of talented dancers move through different sets inspired by the works of French painters, including Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rousseau, Van Gogh, and Renoir. Winner of the 1951 Best Picture Academy Award, An American in Paris garnered Kelly an Honorary Oscar “in appreciation of his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.” (Film Society at Lincoln Center)

"Minnelli’s Technicolor musical, re-released in a gorgeous restoration, is fresher than ever." Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent

"Full of light and movement. Nothing of its kind from Hollywood had quite possessed its class, sense of style, and chic." Clive Herschhorn, The Hollywood Musical