Classic Film Guide

An American in Paris (1951)

"It's wonderful, it smarvelous", but it's also an average musical, though it does feature 44 (!) elaborate sets and did win six Oscars. It probably won Best Picture by benefiting from a split vote between A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and A Place in the Sun (1951). It does have a great, if long, dance sequence with Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. And, Oscar Levant and Nina Foch do provide excellent support. Director Vincente Minnelli received his first nomination (he later won for Gigi (1958), another questionable Best Picture winner). Added to the National Film Registry in 1993. #68 on AFI's 100 Greatest Movies list. #39 on AFI's 100 Greatest Love Stories list. "I Got Rhythm" is #32 on AFI's 100 Top Movie Songs of All Time. #9 on AFI's 25 Greatest Movie Musicals list.

Kelly is a struggling American artist, working in Paris, until he finds a "sugar daddy" (er, "sugar mommy"?) in Foch. He pals around with his piano playing friend (Levant), dancing & singing "I Got Rhythm" with street kids. His friend knows a singer (Georges Guétary) that's engaged to a pretty young thing (Caron). When Kelly meets her, he naturally falls in love. He then chases her, trying to "win" her away from her unawares fiancé, much to the dismay of Foch and his friend Levant. But, when the two dance, "c'est la vie"!

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