“What gets me is, I don’t know anything about her.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary further posits that “Minnelli’s elegant balletic style of dancing is too tame for [Kelly]” — though he concedes that Kelly is finally allowed to “let loose in the extravagant 20-minute musical finale” which features “several striking ballet interludes”; he notes that with its “imaginative use of color, costumes, and sets to create scenes in the styles of French artists … it is [indeed] one of the best production numbers in cinema history”. He argues that “the other, shorter song-and-dance numbers shouldn’t suffer so badly in comparison” — but I don’t quite agree with this sentiment; I’m fond of Kelly performing “I Got Rhythm” with a group of street kids, as well as his joy-filled tap dance routine to “Tra-la-la (This Time It’s Really Love)” in his friend Jerry’s apartment.
The primary problem with An American in Paris is its insufficiently developed storyline. Kelly’s crush on Caron is so paper-thin (especially given, as noted above, that she’s not particularly stunning — and he doesn’t see her opening dance sequence, as we do) that we simply can’t understand his instant obsession; meanwhile, Levant’s character is little more than a standard comedic foil, and Guetary is essentially a one-dimensional sap. What we’re left to enjoy are the stunningly vibrant Technicolor sound stage sets, fun costumes (particularly during the black-and-white ball), the Gershwin brothers’ incomparable score, and world-class dance routines — but without a suitable narrative to back all this up, An American in Paris comes up sadly short. It’s certainly worth at least a one-time look, but hasn’t endured as one of the best MGM musicals.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)