Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An American In Paris

An American in Paris

#68 on the 1998 AFI Top 100 American Films List
An American in Paris is a 1951 MGM musical film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary, and Nina Foch, the film is set in Paris, and was directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner. The music is by George Gershwin, with lyrics by his brother Ira, with additional music by Saul Chaplin, the music director.

The story of the film is interspersed with dance numbers choreographed by Gene Kelly and set to Gershwin's music. Songs and music include "I Got Rhythm", "I'll Build A Stairway to Paradise", " 'S Wonderful", and "Our Love is Here to Stay". The climax of the film is "The American in Paris" ballet, a 16 minute dance featuring Kelly and Caron set to Gershwin's An American in Paris. The ballet alone cost more than $500,000

* Gene Kelly as Jerry Mulligan
* Leslie Caron as Lise Bouvier
* Oscar Levant as Adam Cook
* Georges Guétary as Henri "Hank" Baurel
* Nina Foch as Milo Roberts

Cast notes

* Hayden Rorke, best known for playing Dr. Bellows on the TV series I Dream of Jeannie, has a small part as a friend of Nina Foch's character.
* Noel Neill, later to portray Lois Lane on the TV series The Adventures of Superman, has a small role as an American art student who tries to criticize Jerry Mulligan's paintings.
* Judy Landon, better known for her appearance in Kelly's next musical Singin' in the Rain (and as the wife of Brian Keith), appears as a dancer in the Stairway to Paradise sequence.

Music and dance

* "Embraceable You" (Leslie Caron)
* "Nice Work If You Can Get It" (Georges Guétary)
* "By Strauss" (Gene Kelly, Guétary, Oscar Levant)
* "I Got Rhythm" (Kelly)
* "Tra-la-la (This Time It's Really Love)" (Kelly and Levant)
* "Our Love Is Here to Stay" (Kelly and Caron)
* "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" (Georges Guétary)
* "Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra" (Levant and The MGM Symphony Orchestra)
* " 'S Wonderful" (Kelly and Guétary)
* "An American in Paris Ballet" (Kelly, Caron, and ensemble)

The film was shot in Hollywood, so it features some quirks in the occasional French dialogue. Notably, near the beginning of the I Got Rhythm number, one of the French children says Jerry, parle anglais à nous, which sounds rather curious, containing mistakes both in direct object placement and in respectful address. In the French soundtrack, which switches to the original sound for the duration of the songs, the à nous is masked through a plop sound, to make the sentence more palatable.

Hollywood movies set in France seldom used location shooting or native speakers. However, great care was sometimes put into reproducing Paris surroundings, as in An American in Paris or Irma La Douce. Many French Paris-set movies of this era avoided location work too, and sometimes the same art directors (Alexandre Trauner being the best known example) worked on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

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