I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Movie Musical Challenge: An American in Paris

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
In Movie Musical Challenge, I'm watching all 25 picks for AFI's greatest musicals starting from the bottom.  Number 9 is the 1951 Gene Kelly classic - An American in Paris.

I have seen An American in Paris before and loved it, so this post is mostly going to be me listing why I loved this film.  There is no critical filter here!  First reason is that wit.  It's not a comedy, but it has some very funny moments, and great banter between Gene's character Jerry Mulligan and  his friend Adam Cook, played by Oscar Levant.  They tease each other a lot and I loved their bromance.  It's a shame Gene and Oscar never did any more films together.

Leslie Caron.  This is her first film (she was discovered by Gene Kelly) and I can't say I absolutely loved her acting, but I did love her dancing.  Of course.  She was a ballerina dancer, and that talent gets shown off beautifully here - from her introduction piece as the different facets of her personality is represented by dance to that glorious ballet sequence near the end.

That ballet sequence!  I remember the first time I watched this movie, I was not very impressed with that whole scene.  It just felt long.  But by just the second time I watched this, I started to love it.  And appreciate what Gene was doing with this interlude.  How delightfully interpretative of the whole story it was.  And how it emphasized the romance of the story.  Which is another reason why I love this film.  It is very romantic - in the actual love story, and in the idealized view of Paris and living as an artist.  And of course just the idealized way in which musicals tell stories.  The love story is very appealing to me though, because I love forbidden romances and the angst that goes along with it.  Which is heightened later by that beautiful ballet sequence!  (I'm bringing it back around.)

One more aspect to love I'd like to mention is Georges Guetary, who plays the nice music hall singer.  He has one solo number in the film - Stairway to Paradise - and so far it is my absolute favorite rendition of that song.  He's so passionate in his singing, his accent is delightful, and this rendition is so emphatic that I totally believe the he's going to build that stairway.  Oh and that moment when he realizes that Lise doesn't love him - so heartbreaking.  A quick moment, but I loved that reveal - no words, just the shadows and his face.

Now for my favorite scene in this film... well it could be the uber romantic song and dance between Jerry and Lise "Our Love Is Here to Stay" - I really loved how they danced in sync without touching with just their arms held out to each other.  Or it could be "I Got Rhythm" where Gene totally owns dancing with children - there is no fear they can upstage him.  And it's just a cute scene overall.  By the way, when Gene dances with the older lady early in the film?  It just melts my heart how beautiful that is.  But I think I will have to say for the stylized beauty, the emotion, the cleverness of the set and the art design, my favorite part is actually the 16 minute long ballet sequence.  It's so funny that what was the worst part for me the first time, is now my favorite!

An American in Paris is a DELIGHTFUL film, and every time I watch it, I want to curl into a ball of happiness.  Definitely it's one of the best movie musicals ever.

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