An American painter living in Paris falls for a beautiful
Frenchwoman, unaware that she's engaged to a friend of his.
An American in Paris (1951)
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Written by Alan Jay Lerner
Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant,
Georges Guétary, Nina Foch
Oscar Wins - Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay,
Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Musical Score (Johnny Green, Saul Chaplin)
Oscar Nominations - Best Director, Best Film Editing
Having just sat through Anchors Aweigh, one of the most miserable movie-watching experiences of my life, I was hesitant to go back to the work of Gene Kelly so soon. There's only so much peppy tap-dancing I can take, and I felt like some breathing room was required. I'm glad I took the plunge, though, because An American in Paris is a mostly delightful film. I consider it a nice surprise. The characters are memorable, the script is witty and funny, and the romance is a bit more realistic than other big budget musicals of the time.
Gene Kelly plays Jerry Mulligan, an American painter who lives in Paris because it inspires him on a daily basis. His friends Adam (Levant) and Henri (Guetary) keep him informed of the goings-on in their lives, and life couldn't be better. Then, he gets picked up by a wealthy heiress named Milo (Foch), who is somewhat obsessed with him. Jerry decides to make this work to his benefit, but then he meets Lise (Caron) at a party. He falls hard immediately, then finally convinces her to date him. She falls for him too, but doesn't tell him that she's engaged to Henri. Still, the courting is delightful, and while I didn't really care for the 20-minute-long musical number that comes right before the ending, I did find the film enjoyable overall.
There were many moments that made me laugh. I didn't see that coming. After Anchors Aweigh, Singin' in the Rain, and everything I learned about Gene Kelly's personal demons, I really wanted to hate the man. But as Jerry Mulligan, he's delightful. It's really just the minor plot holes and the extended musical number that eats my lunch here. I liked the rest of the movie.