An American in Paris
USINFO | 2013-11-29 19:11

An American in Paris is a 1951 American musical film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guétary, 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.

American World War II veteran Jerry Mulligan is now an exuberant expatriate in Paris trying to make a reputation as a painter. His friend, Adam, is a struggling concert pianist who is a longtime associate of a French singer, Henri Baurel. A lonely society woman, Milo Roberts, takes Jerry under her wing and supports him, but is more interested in Jerry than his art. Jerry remains oblivious to her feelings and falls in love with Lise Bouvier, a French girl he meets at a restaurant. Lise loves him as well but she is already in a relationship with Henri, to whom she feels indebted for keeping her safe during World War II. For most of the film Jerry is unaware of Lise's relationship with Henri.

Eventually Jerry learns that Lise is in love with him but is marrying Henri the next day. He invites Milo to a masked ball that night. At the raucous masked ball, with everyone in black-and-white costumes, Milo learns from Adam that Jerry is not interested in her, and Henri overhears Jerry and Lise saying goodbye to each other. When Henri and Lise drive away, Jerry daydreams about being with her all over Paris to the tune of the George Gershwin composition An American in Paris. His reverie is broken by a car horn, the sound of Henri bringing Lise back to him. They embrace as the Gershwin composition (and the film) ends.

Academy Awards

Academy Award for Best Picture: Arthur Freed, producer
Academy Award for Best Art – Set Decoration, Color: E. Preston Ames, Cedric Gibbons, F. Keogh Gleason, and Edwin B. Willis
Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color: John Alton and Alfred Gilks
Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Color: Orry-Kelly, Walter Plunkett, and Irene Sharaff
Academy Award for Best Musical Score: Saul Chaplin and Johnny Green
Academy Award for Best Writing, Scoring and Screenplay: Alan Jay Lerner

Academy Award for Best Director: Vincente Minnelli
Academy Award for Best Film Editing: Adrienne Fazan

Golden Globes

Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Golden Globe Award for Best Director – Motion Picture: Vincente Minnelli
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy: Gene Kelly

Kelly received an Academy Honorary Award that year for "his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film." It was his only Oscar.

The film was entered into the 1952 Cannes Film Festival.

In 1993, An American in Paris was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

American Film Institute recognition
1998: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies – #68
2002: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions – #39
2004: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs – #32
"I Got Rhythm"
2006: AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals – #9

AFI also honored star Kelly as #15 of the top 25 American male screen legends.

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