AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951) C 115m. dir: Vincente Minnelli
w/Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Nina Foch, Georges Guetary, Eugene Borden, Martha Bamattre, Mary Jones, Ann Codee, George Davis
Caron makes her film debut (Kelly personally chose her from the stage of the Ballets des Champs Elysees in Paris) in this story of an ex-GI who stays in Paris after WWII to make it as an artist.
From The Movie Guide: "A classic film featuring the timeless music of George and Ira Gershwin, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS has a freshness and charm rare in the musical genre, and it was the film that forever identified MGM as the studio for musicals. ...
"The plot was showing signs of age far earlier than 1951, but everything else about AN AMERICAN IN PARIS more than compensates: the songs are all Gershwin Brothers standards; Kelly's choreography is breathtaking; the original screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner is alternately witty and touching; and Minnelli's direction feels buoyantly assured. The 17-minute Dufy-inspired ballet (art directors Cedric Gibbons and Preston Ames, along with costume designer Irene Sharaff, also contributed brilliantly to this sequence) is the showstopper here but an underrated standout is 'I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise,' performed with marvelous elan by Guetary. Although the setting is Paris, very little of the film was actually shot on location; the spectacular scenes were mostly sets built on the lot."
For more information about the making of the film, consult the book by Donald Knox, The Magic Factory: How MGM Made An American in Paris.
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS won six Oscars: Best Picture, Story and Screenplay (Lerner), Cinematography (Alfred Gilks, John Alton), Scoring (Johnny Green, Saul Chaplin), Art Direction (Gibbons, Ames, Edwin B. Willis, Keough Gleason), and Costume Design (Orry-Kelly, Walter Plunkett, Sharaff). Kelly was given an Honorary Oscar "in appreciation of his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his achievements in the art of choreography on film." The film was also nominated for Best Director and Editing (Adrienne Fazan).