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.Written by
Scott Renshaw <firstname.lastname@example.org>
44 sets depicting Paris were built by art director E. Preston Ames in Hollywood who himself had studied in the French capital and knew the city well. However, upon seeing them, Gene Kelly nonetheless believed the sets looked like unconvincing sound stages. See more »
When Jerry and Lise walk down the stone stairs to the river for the first time, the sound their steps make indicates the stairs are really made of wood. See more »
This is Paris, and I'm an American who lives here. My name is Jerry Mulligan, and I'm an ex G.I. In 1945 when the army told me to find my own job, I stayed on. And I'll tell you why: I'm a painter, and all my life that's all I've ever wanted to do.
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And Presenting The American In Paris Ballet See more »
In 1995 a restored version was prepared for release on video/laserdisc, with the 18-minute ending ballet soundtrack reprocessed in stereo. See more »
How Long Has This Been Going On?
Music by George Gershwin
Played as background music See more »
A great film that's not aging well
Don't get me wrong: the musical numbers are still top rate. Watching Kelly dance anything from the tap on the sidewalks to the full blown ballet at the end is still very much a marvel to behold. But the story? Ehhhh... not so much.
Granted, plots in MGM musicals are pretty thin affairs anyway, little more than slight variations on their Broadway cousins (who, at the time, weren't anywhere near Shakespeare themselves!): stock formulae that involved a boy and a girl and a happy ending. But in American IN Paris, we're to somehow believe that Gene and Leslie are a perfect couple from their very first glance, even though it means trampling all over the feelings of the two people genuinely in love with these two (and Lord only knows why). Poor Nina Foch gets the worst of it: her storyline doesn't even get a proper resolution... and I'm not quite sure I hold to the idea that she wanted to make Kelly a "kept man": instead, she comes across as a woman who falls in love way too easily and has the cash on hand to help her man of the moment realize his own dream with little thought of her own. Certainly she gets twisted in all directions from the moment Kelly, spurned by Caron, shows up at her apartment, seemingly ready to accept her a "real woman"... only to discover that she's just a rebound relationship -- and we all know how well those work out, right? Meanwhile, the guy who's kept Caron's body and soul together comes across as the kind of nice guy that would do *anything* to keep his wife happy... even if it means giving her up for some schmuck he (and she!) barely knows. Again, we're looking at someone with a fierce sense of devotion and the means to create a perfect world for his intended... only to find out that she never really loved him like she said she did. I have little doubt that when his act finally *did* tour the States, it was a huge disaster, because it's difficult to sing something about a stairway to Paradise through a layer of bitter cynicism.
It's interesting that we have these parallel relationships, both set up along the same dynamics of one person totally in love and happy to lay out anything his/her partner wants, no matter the cost -- and that in both cases, the wealthy one, despite the integrity of his/her feelings, get dumped for a somewhat duplicious, deceitful little affair. Maybe, in some alternate MGM universe, these two unfortunate people found each other and got their own happy ending. I sure hope so.
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