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An American in Paris

An American in Paris (1951), starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, directed by Vincente Minelli

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Synopsis of An American in Paris

Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron sing and dance to the music of George and Ira Gershwin in An American in Paris. When ex-GI Jerry Mulligan (Kelly) remains in Paris to pursue life as an artist, he is discovered by a wealthy patroness interested in more than his art. But Mulligan falls in love with a French shop girl (Caron) who is engaged to his friend.

Cast of characters

  • Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly, For Me and My Gal, DuBarry Was a Lady). The protagonist of the movie. An American who stayed in Paris after World War II to study painting. He falls in love with a young woman, while having an attractive, middle-aged female patron. The patron’s interested in more than his art. He shares a room with:
  • Adam Cook (Oscar Levant, The Band Wagon, O. Henry’s Full House). Oscar Levant plays the role of best friend, and comedy relief. He realizes the romantic triangle that’s formed before either of his friends. He has a memorable, beautiful, and hilarious dream sequence in the movie that has to be seen to be appreciated!
  • Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron, Lili, Gigi). The lovely young French woman who falls in love with Jerry. Although she’s already engaged to:
  • Henri Baurel (Georges Guétary, Loves of Casanova). The other man in the romantic triangle. A very nice, likable fellow. Lise doesn’t as much love his as feel obligated to him. And he becomes a friend to Jerry, without either of them being aware that they both love Lise.
  • Milo Roberts (Nina Foch, Spartacus, The Ten Commandments). The older woman who legitimately helps Jerry with his art career. And expects his affection in return. It’s too easy to think of her as a villain … She’s really not. She’s wealthy, and lonely, in many ways a character to feel sorry for.

Editorial review of An American in Paris

Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly dance in An American in Paris

A GI (Gene Kelly) stays in Paris after the war to become an artist, and has to choose between the patronage of a rich American woman (Nina Foch) and a French gamine (Leslie Caron) engaged to an older man. The plot is mostly an excuse for director Vincente Minnelli to pool his own extraordinary talent with those of choreographer-dancer-actor Kelly and the artists behind the screenplay, art direction, cinematography, and score, creating a rapturous musical not quite like anything else in cinema. The final section of the film comprises a 17-minute dance sequence that took a month to film and is breathtaking. Songs include “‘S Wonderful,” “I Got Rhythm,” and “Love Is Here to Stay.” —Tom Keogh

Songs

  • Our Love Is Here to Stay (1937) Music by George Gershwin, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin, Sung by Gene Kelly, Danced by Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron
  • By Strauss (1936) Music by George Gershwin, Lyrics Revised for this film by Ira Gershwin (1951), Sung by Gene Kelly, Georges Guétary, and Oscar Levant (dubbed by Mack McLean)
  • Fascinating Rhythm (1924) Music by George Gershwin, Played by Oscar Levant on Piano
  • Tra-la-la (This Time It’s Really Love) (1922) Music by George Gershwin, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin, Performed by Gene Kelly (vocal and dance) and Oscar Levant (vocal and piano)
  • I Got Rhythm (1930) Music by George Gershwin, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin, Performed by Gene Kelly and children
  • I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise (1922) Music by George Gershwin, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Buddy G. DeSylva, Sung and Danced by Georges Guétary in his show
  • S Wonderful (1927) Music by George Gershwin, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin, Sung and Danced by Gene Kelly, Sung, Whistled, and Hummed by Georges Guétary
  • Nice Work if You Can Get It (1937) Music by George Gershwin, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin, Sung by Georges Guétary