Directed by Vicente Minnelli. Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Nina Foch. MGM.
Decent Films Ratings
|?Teens & Up|
Content advisory: Romantic complications.
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A National Catholic Register "Video/DVD Picks" capsule review.
By Steven D. Greydanus
Unlike the magical Singin’ in the Rain, Gene Kelly’s An American in Paris doesn’t transcend the musical form; but it’s still one of the great exemplars of the genre. The plot, characterizations, and love story are all paper-thin, but they’re just a pretext for Kelly’s effervescent dancing and choreography, and George Gershwin’s timeless music.
In a conceit both touching and surreal, Kelly plays an American ex-G.I. in Paris who’s never wanted anything but to paint, though he’s obviously the best hoofer in France.
As in Singin’ in the Rain, Kelly is caught between two women — one controlling, artificial, and aggressive (Nina Foch); one down-to-earth and charmingly plain-spoken (newcomer Leslie Caron). Since Foch isn’t nearly as much fun as shrill Lina Lamont, this film compensates by giving Kelly a rival for Caron (Georges Guetary).
The film’s big claim to fame is the climactic set piece: an extravagant 17-minute ballet sequence that’s one of Hollywood’s longest ever. But Kelly is poetry in motion even when not dancing. Just to watch him get out of bed in the first scene and negotiate the space-saving world of his tiny apartment is a study in rhythm and grace.