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Friday, 31 August 2012

An American in Paris (1951) - Star of the month... Gene Kelly

"This is Paris. And I'm an American who lives here" - Gene Kelly (as Jerry Mulligan in 'An American in Paris')

'An American in Paris' is a 1951 MGM musical comedy starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Georges Guétary, Oscar Levant, Nina Foch and Hayden Rourke.

Jerry Mulligan (played by Kelly) is an American painter living in Paris. His friend, Adam Cook (played by Levant) is a struggling concert pianist, and an associate of French entertainer, Henri Baurel (played by Guétary). Henri is in a relationship with Lise Bouvier (played by Caron), however things are complicated when Jerry falls in love with Lise. Meanwhile, society woman Milo Roberts (played by Foch) is interested in Jerry.

In 1993, the film was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry for being culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.

Watch the trailer:

Musical program

  • "Embraceable You" (Instrumental) - danced by Leslie Caron
  • "Nice Work If You Can Get It" - Georges Guétary
  • "By Strauss" - Gene Kelly, Georges Guétary & Oscar Levant
  • "I've Got Rhythm" - Gene Kelly
  • "Bidin' my Time" (Instrumental)
  • "Someone to Watch Over Me" (Instrumental)
  • "Tra-La-La (This Time It's Really Love)" - Gene Kelly & Oscar Levant
  • "Our Love Is Here To Stay" - Gene Kelly (with Leslie Caron)
  • "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" - Georges Guétary
  • "Concerto in F for Piano and Orchesta" - Oscar Levant & the MGM Orchestra
  • "S'Wonderful" - Gene Kelly & Georges Guétary
  • "An American in Paris Ballet" - Gene Kelly & Leslie Caron

Gene Kelly also recorded "I Got a Crush On You", which was deleted from the film.

Clip from 'I Got Rhythm' - Gene Kelly & the children

Song: "I'll Build A Stairway to Paradise" - Georges Guétary

Song: "By Strauss"

Song: "S'Wonderful" - Gene Kelly & - Georges Guétary

The American in Paris Ballet

In the stunning 18 minute 'An American in Paris' ballet, Kelly & Minnelli create a lavish showcase for classical ballet, tap dancing and athletic exuberance, set against the backdrop inspired by classic impressionist paintings and the amazing music of George Gershwin.

A ballet on this scale had never before appeared in an American film. The British film 'The Red Shoes' had attempted something similar a few years earlier. The ballet cost half a million dollars to stage, and took over a month to film.

I love this ballet so much, I had to include a selection of images showing its many magical moments...

Introducing Leslie Caron in her first film

Introducing Leslie Caron

'An American in PAris' was Leslie Caron's first film. While travelling in Paris, Gene Kelly noticed Leslie Caron dancing, and convinced her to return to Hollywood with him. The ironic thing was at the time Leslie Caron didn't know who Gene Kelly was.

Did you know...

Leslie Caron
  • Fred Astaire was also considered for the role of Jerry Mulligan
  • Maurice Chevalier was considered for the role of Henri Baurel
  • Celeste Holm was considered for the role of Milo Roberts
  • Cyd Charisse was considered for the role of Lise Bouvier, however she became pregnant
  • Marge Champion was offered the role of Lise Bouvier, however she declined as she did not want to appear without her husband, Gower Champion
  • Nina Foche contracted chicken pox, which put a hold on filming - this led to the idea of 'An American in Paris Ballet'
  • George Guetary for 2 and a half years younger than Gene Kelly, and had to have his hair greyed
  • Leslie Caron's film debut
  • Ira Gershwin sold the title of 'An American in Paris' to Arthur Freed, on the condition every song in the film must come from the Gershwin song catalogue
  • No dialogue is spoken in last 20-21 minutes of this film
  • At age 38, Gene Kelly was 19 years older than his co-star Leslie Caron
  • A stage adaptation followed in 2008, featuring many of the film's songs, as well as other Gershwin standards such as "They All Laughed", "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" and "Love Walked In"

Awards and nominations

  • Academy Award winner for Best Picture
  • Academy Award winner for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Color)
  • Academy Award winner for Best Cinematography (Color)
  • Academy Award winner for Best Costume (Color)
  • Academy Award winner for Best Music, Scoring of a Picture
  • Academy Award winner for Best Writing, Story & Screenplay
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Director
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing
  • BAFTA Award nomination for Best Film from any Source
  • Cannes Film Festival nomination for Grand Prize of the Festival 
  • Directors Guide of America Award nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
  • Golden Globe winner for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
  • Golden Globe nomination for Best Director
  • Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor - Musical or Comedy (Gene Kelly)
  • National Board of Review Award winner for Top Ten Films
  • Writers Guild of America Award winner for Best Written American Musical
Gene Kelly was also awarded an honorary Academy Award for his "versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film" - it would be his only Oscar.

Closing remarks

A joyous celebration of ballet, French impressionist painting and Gershwin music. 'An American in Paris' is one of MGM and Gene Kelly's greatest achievements. There's not much else I can say about this film but go and watch it!

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