An American In Paris
Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, 1 p.m.
Cost: Not available
Age limit: Not available
Gene Kelly stars as an ex-G.I. who stays in Paris after the war ends. His intent to pursue a career as a failed painter changes the day good fortune doubles down in the form of a wealthy, borderline spinsterish grubstaker (Nina Foch) and a comely 19-year-old Parisian in backlot Hollywood (Leslie Caron). Four non-musicals came to mind during last night’s reacquaintance viewing. Oscar “The Best Part of Any Movie He’s In” Levant’s concert — where he plays soloist, orchestra, and audience — was a tip of the hat to Buster Keaton’s The Playhouse. Levant’s escalating unanswered requests for coffee suggest a pending Scorsese homage in Raging Bull. “The Lucky Song,” Dean Martin’s playful boulevard celebration in Frank Tashlin’s Artists and Models is a bold-faced tribute to Minnelli’s adorable “I Got.” And is it me, or does the doomed Nina Foch/Gene Kelly hookup prefigure Patricia Neal and George Peppard’s butch and femme shenanigans in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Alas, the legend that precedes this much-decorated musical is way out of whack. Vincente Minnelli thought the studio had assigned him the picture as punishment for the lackluster box office returns of his previous musical, the giddily excessive The Pirate. Jerky continuity and claustrophobic staging conspired to clothesline any potential joy to be found in the otherwise sentimental “dancing grannies” number, “By Strauss.” The tap-controlled illuminated steps set do most of the performance work in “Stairway to Paradise.” And whoever thought it wise to cast accent-for-hire Georges Guétary as the third musketeer did viewers a great disservice. (Maurice Chevalier was considered, but there was this recurring story about his once performing for the Nazis that may have played a part in the studio’s decision. No matter. When it came time to make Gigi, all was forgiven.) The ever-dwindling plot and character development is proof positive that screenwriter Alan J. Lerner is no match for Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Kelly had choreographed dance sequences before, mostly unacknowledged, but this was to be his first credit as choreographer. In spite of cinematographer John Alton’s contributions, the grandiloquent Jazz ballet that brings down the curtain does so not a moment too soon. That said, if you’ve never seen this on a screen, trust me when I say you’ve nothing better to do when the film plays countywide. — Scott Marks
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