on July 2, 2008
Warner Brothers' proprietary Ultra-Resolution process has brought new life to such classics as "The Wizard of Oz," "Gone With the Wind," Errol Flynn's "Robin Hood," and "Singin' in the Rain." By going back to the original three-strip technicolor negatives and realigning them digitally, the color and detail blows away anything that customers have seen in the past with home video. "An American In Paris" has now undergone the same process. For those that have a blu-ray player, be sure to order this version, An American in Paris [Blu-ray]. Here is a list of extras that are the same on both versions:
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.
on March 20, 2004
A glorious movie that showcases Gene Kelly's breathtaking talent. Forget the silly story and just watch him dance and dance and dance. He does more with a turn of a shoulder than most dancers can do with their whole body. This movie also introduced the lithe and lovely Leslie Caron as the object of Kelly's affection. The film builds to its dramatic hallucinatory conclusion as Kelly dances his way across a Paris dreamscape, that brings all the elements of modern dance together in a tour-de-force that was unprecedented in musicals of that time. You can't help getting swept away in the feel-good spirit of this movie. It was another time and place.
The dazzling seventeen-minute dance sequence of George Gershwin's 1928 orchestral piece, "An American in Paris", is an indisputable masterwork. Choreographed with precision and unparalleled flair by Gene Kelly, the vibrant combination of color, music and dance is still eye-poppingly startling as the piece is broken down into scenes inspired by selected master artists - Dufy in the opening Place de la Concorde piece, Manet in the flower market, Utrillo in a Paris street, Rousseau at the fair, Vincent Van Gogh in the spectacular Place de l'Opera piece, and Toulouse-Lautrec for the Moulin Rouge where Kelly wears his famous white bodysuit. The 97 minutes that precede this finale are not as exciting, not by a long shot, but there are certain charms to be had in viewing the entire 1951 Oscar-winning musical.
Director Vincente Minnelli and screenwriter Alan Jay Lerner have fashioned a surprisingly sophisticated if rather slight romantic story focused on Jerry Mulligan, a former G.I. who has remained in Paris after the end of WWII trying to make a living as a painter. With his braggadocio manner and athletic dancing style, Gene Kelly can be concurrently ingratiating and irritating as a screen personality, but he seems to find his oeuvre as the carefree Jerry. The love-triangle plot is focused on Jerry's involvement with Milo Roberts, a self-proclaimed art patron but a sexual predator when it comes to young artists. On their first date in a crowded Montmartre nightclub, Jerry unapologetically falls for Lise, a young woman who turns out to be the fiancee of Henri, a professional entertainer and friend of Jerry's pal, Adam, an out-of-work concert pianist. Romantic complications ensue until the inevitable ending but not before several classic Gershwin songs are performed.
The best of these is the most imitated - a swooningly romantic song and dance to "Our Love Is Here to Stay" along a faux-Seine River in a blue hazy mist with yellow fog lights. The way Kelly and Leslie Caron circle each other is transcendent as they approach each other tentatively at first and then synchronize beautifully to the music leading to the final clinch. Few films have so elegantly and succinctly shown two people falling in love. "I Got Rhythm" and "S'Wonderful" spotlight Kelly's nimble tap-dancing and agreeable singing, while "Embraceable You" is danced impressively by Caron in a five-scene montage of Henri's all-over-the-map description of Lise to Adam. Designed to show off Caron's dancing versatility, the sequence is similar to the one in "On the Town" where Vera-Ellen showed off her considerable dancing skills when Kelly's sailor character described his multi-faceted vision of Miss Turnstiles.
As Lise, the nineteen year-old Caron (in her first film) dances superbly throughout and handles her role with unformed charm with her acting talent not to bloom for several years. Looking quite glamorous, Nina Foch plays older as the manipulative Milo and manages to be likeable enough for us to care about her fate, while Oscar Levant is just his sardonic self as Adam. Performing an elegant "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise", George Guetary plays Henri so agreeably that you feel bad that he does lose the girl at the end. This is not the best all-around MGM musical, but there is certainly enough movie magic to make this quite worthwhile. The 2000 DVD contains a fairly pristine print but little else in terms of extras.
on August 13, 2002
1951 was a tense year in America. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of selling U.S. nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. In North Korea, truce negotiations failed. McCarthyism reigned and Hollywood suffered as many of its key players were blacklisted. It is no wonder, then, that the movie-going public sought lighter fare. With its simple script, lush color, and innovative choreography, An American in Paris was just the ticket.
An American in Paris is the story of boy meets girl, boy gets girl-with not much in between. Gene Kelly plays Jerry, an ex-GI trying to make a go of it as an artist in the city of artist's garrets and cheap cheese. When he spots Lise (Leslie Caron) he knows instantly that she's the gal for him, and he sets about wooing and winning her, ignorant of the fact that she's dating Henri (Georges Guetary). Complicating things (but not much) is his wealthy patroness Milo (Nina Fochs). Another ex-patriot, Adam (Oscar Levant), plays the fifth wheel, adding comic relief to a script that doesn't need it. But people don't really watch this movie for the script, they watch it for the beautiful cinematography and the singing and dancing.
The set design is gorgeously colorful, making Paris dangerously magnetic to anyone who might be making travel plans. This is the Paris of sweet children seeking bubble-gum, kind elderly Parisian ladies who break into dance in cafes, a happy nightclub scene on clean stone streets, and of course lavish flowers, safe riverbanks, and Parisian churches. It's a perfect setting for the score, which includes such songs as "Our Love is Here to Stay," "I Got Rhythm" (sung by Kelly with a team of little urchins), and "'S Wonderful". And the dancing is. Quite wonderful, culminating in a 17-minute ballet (choreographed by Kelly) at the climax. That things resolve just a little too quickly and easily thereafter will bother no dance fan-and all the moviewatchers who have a low tolerance for song-and-dance will have been flushed out of the room long before then.
An American in Paris was Leslie Caron's first American film, shot when she was a just-turned 18. Her inexperience with movie making shows on the screen as kind of a gamine innocence and plays well with Kelly's confident American mien. The chemistry of all cast members (or should I say "the troupe") coalesces to make this musical a don't-miss. 4 stars for the average movie watcher; 5 if you're a big fan of dance.
on September 14, 2001
"An American In Paris" is an amazing film. It won the Oscar for Best Picture and Gene Kelly was awarded a special Oscar for his choreography. I, and I'm sure that most people would agree, feel that "Singin' In The Rain" is Gene Kelly's best film, but this is a close second.
Basic story: Kelly is an ex-GI who stuck around in Paris to become an artist. He's now an artist, but a struggling one. He meets Leslie Caron and through the wonders of movie musicals, he falls in love with her in about ten seconds. He starts his pursuit of her, but he is also being pursued by a wealthy older woman who wants to sponsor him in an art show. The woman is interested in more than Kelly's art and Caron also has her own problems. She is engaged to an older man whom she doesn't love, but rescued her during the war and so she feels indebted to him. However, even with all these complications we must remember that this is a '50s musical so there can only be one outcome, a good one. Also worth noting is Oscar Levant. He plays Kelly's best pal and brings his usual cynicism and humor to the role.
The plot is exceptionally good for a musical, but what makes a person watch this movie is the musical numbers. Gene Kelly does the dancing and George Gershwin's catalog is used for the music. What could be better? Kelly shows his "everyman" qualities by dancing in a small cafe, on a sidewalk with a swarm of French children, and in the apartment of his best friend. He also does an incredibly romantic dance with Leslie Caron to Gershwin's "Our Love Is Here To Stay". Its beautiful.
The whole movie climaxes in a 17 minute ballet finale. Yes, ballet. Now I don't like ballet, but Kelly brings such an earthy and sexy feel to it that you almost forget its ballet. There are elements of humor in the finale, but for the most part it is incredibly romantic. Its set to a beatiful orchestration of Gershwin's "An American In Paris" suite. The ballet is set on a massive scale, there are many dancers and the fact that Kelly was able to choreograph everything so flawlessly is just a testament to his genius. Everyone is different and for some this isn't a "rewatch" scene, but the first time you see it, it is breathtaking. It took me a few viewings before I think I fully appreciated everything that was going on in the scenes.
One last note, any woman who enjoys seeing good looking men must see this film. Gene Kelly is very handsome and has a strong, dancer's body. During the ballet he dons a skin-tight costume and struts across the screen. Women, keep a glass of ice water handy. Don't say I didn't warn you.
on September 17, 2000
With all due respect to devotees of "Singin' in the Rain", I think "An American in Paris" is the best musical ever made. Stanley Donen was an innovative director, but Vincente Minnelli was a genius in his field, and "An American in Paris" was his masterpiece. I choose "An American in Paris" over the others for various reasons. (One example: "Meet Me in St Louis" is charming Americana, but it's spoiled by that melodramatic episode in the middle with Tootie's cut lip and the Boy Next Door being blamed; it's so contrived it might have dropped out of another picture.) "An American in Paris' is a completely successful musical with Gershwin songs culled from their stage shows of a previous generation (for instance, "S Wonderful" is from the 1927 "Funny Face" and "I Got Rhythm" is from 1930's "Girl Crazy"), a trim script by Alan Jay Lerner, and perfect casting. Gene Kelly at 38 was in his prime. And here let me say that Jerry Mulligan, Kelly's character in the film, is the brash, can-do kind of guy who was vastly admired in America by both men and women in the years following World War II. His aggressive attitude towards life represented qualities that had won the war. If today he seems a little chauvinistic (in every sense of the word) ... well, times change. The fact remains that Jerry is an ex-G.I. who has mastered the French language and venerates French culture. Hardly the Ugly American. On the flip side is his New World naïveté. In one scene he and his French girl friend Lise (Leslie Caron) meet shyly outside a sidewalk café and take a table. But Lise immediately becomes aware that an old roué nearby is checking her out (assuming she's just been picked up). Embarrassed, Lise asks to leave the café. But Jerry? The poor dope has no idea what's happened. Similarly, the whole movie has a sharp edge unusual for light entertainment. It's evident in the rich American Milo Roberts (Nina Foch) with her soignée chilliness and her somewhat S & M relationship with Jerry. And it's evident in the curmudgeon wit of Adam Cook (Oscar Levant), "the world's oldest child prodigy". His fantasy of playing Gershwin's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra single-handed is every musician's dream/nightmare. The Old World is represented by Henri Baurel, a music hall star, performed by Georges Guetary, who was (I suspect) basically playing himself. (His rendition of "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" is the film's only traditional cabaret number.) Throughout the story, his boulevardier suavity,not to mention the savoir faire of the minor characters, indicates the Gallic easygoing attitude towards sex, which was about 20 years ahead of the U.S.'s. (Incidently, look close in the Beaux Arts ball sequence and you'll spot a young gay couple passing Kelly on the staircase.) Despite its glossiness, the picture has a refreshing spontaneity. Notice in the "By Strauss" number that Kelly's cap gets knocked off his head by the florist's skirt. At first he grabs for it, but then it's like "Ah, t' hell with it" and he keeps on going. Appropriately, all the acting is natural and subdued. But not the climatic ballet! It has to be the most lavish experience in all of film entertainment, before or since. It's been said that this ballet is "too much", but i think mehitabel in paris would have said theres no such thing as too toujours gai. With its 3-strip Technicolor, its numerous sets, its hundreds of costumes, Kelly's superb choreography, and of course gorgeous Gershwin, the "An American in Paris" ballet is, like the movie itself, le spectacle ne plus ultra. Savourez!
on August 14, 2000
This colorful, fanciful film added a splash of zestful excitement and entertainment to audiences of 1951, in the year of "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "A Place In The Sun". The MGM musicals don't get any better than this one because it's got everything: romance, excitement, music, song, dance, and thrills. Vincente Minnelli's expert direction and cinematography captures some of the most enchanting sights of post-WWII Paris, as seen through the eyes of a light-hearted painter (Gene Kelly, whose indescribably brilliant choreography for this film won him a special Oscar). Accidentally meeting up with a young French girl (Leslie Caron, in her film debut), he is immediately smitten and courts her... though she is secretly engaged to another man (Georges Guetary). Kelly also manages to get himself tangled with a wealthy heiress (Nina Foch) who tries to bring his work to the attention of Paris' art critics. In the background, Oscar Levant's acid wit shines as Kelly's pianist friend. Any scene in the film is worth seeing the whole film: Kelly's charming take on "I Got Rhythm", teaching the song to a group of French youngsters, Kelly's achingly romantic wooing of Caron "Our Love Is Here To Stay" by the Seine, or best of all, the incredible 17-minute dream sequence ballet. This marvelous piece of cinematic achievement combines George Gershwin's "American In Paris" symphony along with the great works of Paris's greatest artists as backgrounds, sparking the most innovative dance number of all time, and perhaps best represents the MGM musical. This masterpiece should be enjoyed by every generation.
on December 16, 2006
Vincente Minnelli directed some of the most celebrated entertainments in cinema history... He was among the first Hollywood directors to show that a profound love of color, motion and music might produce intelligent entertainment... His 'American in Paris' is a display of breathtaking colors dizzyingly romantic...
'American in Paris' is the story of an ex-GI who remains in France after the war to study and paint... He falls in love with a graceful dancer... Their romantic love affair sparkles as brightly as the City of lights itself... The whole movie brings a touch of French elegance where technique, artistic style and music all come together in perfect synchronism...
The first musical sequence introduces the exciting personality of Leslie Caron in her screen debut... She is like a diamond, a touch of class... George Guetary describes his fiancée ambiguous grace in a montage of different dance styles, sweet and shy, vivacious and modern, graceful and awesome... The number leads to an unpretentious bistro, where Kelly and his very good friends in Paris share a gentle parody of Viennese waltzes... Later Kelly celebrates a popular tap dancing with a crowd of enthusiastic children singing with him 'I Got Rhythm,' and at the massive jazz nightclub Kelly spots the girl of his dreams... He is instantly hit by her sparkling sapphire blue eyes, and only one clear thing is in his mind, to pull Lize onto the dance floor and sing to her: "It's very clear, Our love is here to stay."
To the joyful 'Tra-La-La,' Kelly provides humor, wit and talent all around Oscar Levant's room ,and even on the top of his brown piano...
When he meets his pretty Cinderella along the Seine river, Kelly is swept away by his happy meeting with Caron... He expresses all his emotions with 'Our Love Is Here to Stay.' The piece had a definite nighttime feel as the two lovers were bathed in soft, blue smoky light... They start an enchanting dance-duet juxtaposing differing elements... Caron dances with her head on his shoulder, then tries to run away in a fluid way... They move backward, away from each other, then pause to rush toward each other, for a little kiss, and a warm hug...
The film's weakest numbers were those that bear little relation to the story... In one, Georges Guetary performs an entertaining stage show with showgirls in giant ornaments floating down to the stage... In another, Oscar Levant imagines himself conducting a concert, and playing not only a piano recital, but the other instruments as well... He even applauds to himself as members of the audience...
The extravagant climactic super ballet of the film is quite an adventure, a breakthrough in taste, direction and design... It is a blaze of love, fury and vividness... It is Kelly's major fantasy of his lost love and of his feeling about Paris as viewed through the huge backdrops of some of France's most Impressionist painters...
The number starts at the Beaux Arts Ball after Kelly finds himself separated from Lise, and begins a sketch with a black crayon... It gathers the important parts of the film's story through a constantly changing locations, all in the style of the painters who have influenced Jerry... The tour, richly attractive and superbly atmospheric, includes the Place De la Concorde Fountain, the Madeleine flower market, the Place De l'Opéra, to his Rendez-Vous at Montmartre, with the cancan dancers in a representation of Lautrec's Moulin Rouge...
Kelly seems to defy the boundaries of his physical self... Caron seems to dominate her space and sweeps you away to another time and place...
Nina Foch appeared very attractive and elegant in her one-shouldered white gown... In one of the film's most famous lines, Kelly asks her: 'That's quite a dress you almost have on. What holds it up?" Nina, cleverly replies, "modesty!"
'An American in Paris' garnered six Oscars, including an honorary award to Gene Kelly... The film gave us a wealth of memories to take home...
on November 28, 2004
This film has eveything going for it: great Gerswhin music, great visuals, the beauty of Paris (despite being filmed on a backlot), a fine script, the lovely Leslie Caron, the humorous Oscar Levant, the amazing talent of Gene Kelly, a still-breathtaking 17 minute ballet, choreographed by Kelly, at the film's climax, and ROMANCE! This is one of my favorite musicals of all-time!
The plot of the film is simple enough. Jerry Mulligan (played by Gene Kelly) is an American ex-GI trying to become an artist in Paris. He is an all around nice guy who seems to get by more on charm than talent. He meets up with a perfume girl named Lise (played by Leslie Caron) who steels his heart, but she is engaged to Henri (played by Georges Geutary), the man who protected her during World War II. The movie centers on how Jerry and Lise finally are able to get together. There is a colorful cast of supporting characters including piano player Adam Cook played by Oscar Levant, feminine tease/American debutante Milo Roberts played by Nina Foch, and the people who inhabit the streets of Paris.
The music and dancing truly make this film a magical spectacle. The songs that are used in the film are from the George and Ira Gershwin songbook and each is performed rather well. Probably the most notable musical performance in the film is Georges Geutary singing "Stairway to Paradise" staged in a manner that could only be done by MGM. Other great scenes include Gene Kelly dancing with a café matron and flower seller. The dance with the flower seller is particularly moving. She is much older than Kelly and when we watch this scene, we get a sense she is reliving a special moment in her life. Kelly's version of "I Got Rhythm" teams the great dancer with the neighborhood children who are only after one thing-Kelly's American bubble gum. We see some fancy footwork by Kelly as well as amusing interactions with children. The final dance number of the film, called "The American In Paris Ballet" is probably Hollywood's best dance scene. At least MGM thinks so since it ends MGM's historical documentary THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT!
While it's true that renting AN AMERICAN IN PARIS in a video store is not all that difficult, this is a film that can give enjoyment over and over again, so why not add it to your collection?