An American in Paris
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An American in Paris 2-Disc Special Edition (DVD)]]>
A winner of six Oscars including Best Picture, An American in Paris (1951) was Vincente Minnelli's love letter to the City of Lights and to the music of George Gershwin. Gene Kelly plays Jerry Mulligan, a former American GI trying to make a living in France as an artist after the war. He's taken on by an American patron of the arts (Nina Foch) who has other intentions, but he falls in love with a local girl (Leslie Caron in her debut) who happens to be the intended of a Parisian cabaret performer (Georges Guetary). The music of George and Ira Gershwin sparkles throughout the film, including Kelly and Guetary's ironic duet "'S Wonderful," Kelly's simple ballad "Love Is Here to Stay," Guetary's flamboyant "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise," and Kelly's tour-de-force "I Got Rhythm" dance with a bunch of kids. Oscar Levant plays his usual acerbic self as Jerry's friend and pianist, and performs the final movement of the Concerto in F--accompanied by an orchestra of himselves. The movie famously concludes with a 17-minute fantasy ballet set to the tone poem the movie is named after. While its scope and placement might seem a little odd to viewers decades later, it's an elaborate showcase of Kelly's dancing and choreography (he received an honorary Oscar that year for it), and started a trend that would be followed by similar numbers in Singin' in the Rain and Oklahoma! --David Horiuchi
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1.33:1 Full Screen with Original Mono audio * Tech Specs for Blu-ray version: Video is 1080P 1.33:1 * Audio is English, French, Spanish (Both Castilian and Latin), German and Italian DD1.0 * Subtitles (Main Feature): English, French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish * Subtitles (on Select Bonus Material): English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese
1938 MGM short: Paris on Parade
1951 MGM cartoon: Symphony in Slang
2002 American Masters Documentary: Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer (Gene Kelly - Anatomy of a Dancer)
`S Wonderful: The Making of An American in Paris, an all new documentary, produced especially for this release. A dynamic history of the making of the film, which reveals how George and Ira Gershwin's classic songs, the dazzling art of the French impressionists and the ultimate teamwork of MGM's legendary "Freed Unit" came together to create a musical masterpiece. Featuring ten new interviews, including co-stars Leslie Caron, Nina Foch, and Kelly's widow. A very enlightening piece; Caron's memories are probably the most interesting, with Foch running a close 2nd. Caron's comments about co-star Georges Guétary being handsome but not too bright seem to be echoed by Kelly's widow, who says Gene spent more time trying to teach him how to gracefully walk down a set of steps than on anything else in the film. It is unfortunate that Maurice Chevalier could not have taken that role as originally intended. You also realize just how revolutionary this movie was (artistically), especially because of the 17-minute ballet tacked on at the end of the movie. Even Irving Berlin disapproved during an on-set visit, which didn't help the confidence of Vincente Minnelli at all.
Georges Guetary performing Love Walked In (not missed in the movie at all!)
Audio Outtakes: Alternate Main Title, But Not for Me (Guetary), But Not for Me (Levant Piano Solo), Gershwin Prelude #3, I've Got a Crush on You, Nice Work if You Can Get It, 'S Wonderful
Radio Interviews: Johnny Green, Gene Kelly, Gene Kelly & Leslie Caron;
Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron promotional radio interview with Dick Simmons
Not all of the original musical recording stems have survived over the years, preventing a true stereo/5.1 restoration of the soundtrack; instead, a restored mono version is being made available.
Most are familiar with the movie; storywise, it is a little creaky and hasn't necessarily survived well over the years: Kelly is an American artist living in Paris. He falls in love with a young girl (Leslie Caron) who is in a loveless relationship with one of his best friends (Guétary). Kelly is also in somewhat of a loveless relationship with his financial sponsor (Nina Foch). You can probably guess the rest.
The glowing color, fantastic music by Gershwin (arrangements by the talented Conrad Salinger), and the amazing choreography of Gene Kelly will keep this one a classic for years to come despite a predictable plot. Just the ending ballet alone is a masterpiece; the art of Toulouse Lautrec and Utrillo comes to life with Gene Kelly & Leslie Caron dancing their hearts out to some of the most imaginative choreography (Kelly's) in years. The Freed Unit at MGM was at their peak when this movie was made, and this is one of the last great ones that it created.
It is a real shame that with how fantastic the picture is (the colors literally leap off the screen, and it really adds to the appreciation of what an artistically beautiful visual feast this movie is) that the sound cannot match. Although it is clear and free of problems, the Gershwin music just begs for a 5.1 or 7.1 surround track; unfortunately, due to the age and availability of the original elements, this is not possible.
But, leaving the best 'til last, there is the dancing and splendor of the 'American in Paris' scene. I am no connoisseur of ballet, but I don't think one has to be to take in and enjoy both the magnificent setting and the music and dancing involved. If you like music, dancing, and real talent, you will not want to pass up this opportunity.
What a classic. This was not a bluray copy, but non the less, the restoration was well done.
I believe more care is being taken in the release of these old films.
Be prepared to be entertained-again.
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