An American in Paris Reviews
Delightful and fun, as most classic film musicals are, An American in Paris features a wonderful score by the Gershwins and some truly great dance sequences by the legendary Gene Kelly. The plot is fairly basic, the one wrinkle being that the Parisian singer and the American are pursuing the same girl, but director Vincente Minnelli carries it at a solid, quick pace. It is nonetheless unfortunate that almost all Gene Kelly musicals contain an extended ballet sequence that does nothing to advance the plot; without this, as with Singing in the Rain, An American in Paris might have been a four-star film.
Overall, though it's largely insubstantial, this film is nevertheless fun to watch.
Okay, so the story isn't all that impressive, and neither are the characters, but the film is still a success, if only because of the whole style over substance thing (in one of the cases where this is ultimately good instead of bad). With Gene Kelly in the lead, you know there's gonna be some great song and dance numbers, and this film doesn't disappoint. The crowining achievement here is the 17 minute ballet that makes up the film's climax: a real shostopper of a number set to the Gershwin piece the film is named after. In this one sequence alone, the audience is treated to a excellent narrative told through dance and music (but no words) that features soem excellent Impressionst style costumes and sets. It's a great moment, and the whole film could have been excellent had it all been like this.
It's not though, but I still kinda like it. The characters are likeable, even though not much is done to really develop them substantially or make you care about them immensenly. The perforamnces are at least decent. Kelly is of course terrific, and Leslie Caron does a good job in her film debut as Lise. Nina Foch is also good, but I could have used more of her.
All in all, a decent musical, but nothing tremednously special. It sure could have been, but it's not. I do like it though, and think that if you have an interest in any of the cast, the director, musicals, or Gershwin, then you'd do well to give it a watch...just don't expect it to be the Oscar masteriece it was hailed as being though.
Escrito por Alan Jay Lerner (mais tarde responsável por Gigi e My Fair Lady), o roteiro de Sinfonia de Paris não escapa do arquétipo padrão de musicais da Metro: como perfeitamente descrito por Frank Sinatra em Isto Era Hollywood, "garoto conhece garota, garoto perde garota, garoto canta e consegue a garota." Neste caso, o garoto é Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly), ex-soldado que agora se dedica à pintura na cidade das luzes. A garota é uma estreante Leslie Caron que, apesar de ter alcançado grande sucesso em outros filmes, aqui claramente demonstra não ter total consciência do que fazer quando não está dançando. O lado subversivo do romance é que, ao mesmo tempo em que vivem um affair, ambos vão para a cama de pessoas diferentes (ou assim subentende-se): ela para a de um cantor amigo de Jerry (Georges Guétary) e ele para a de uma mulher mais velha que patrocina sua arte (Nina Foch). Esta ruptura de caráter que faz do personagem de Kelly um semi-gigolô o torna mais interessante do que o tradicional "sujeito boa praça" interpretado pelo ator durante toda sua filmografia (e a decisão de vestir o bailarino em collants revela mais sobre o Minnelli do que pode ficar explícito na tela).
A história é, no entanto, apenas um pretexto para a apresentação de clássicas canções do vasto repertório de George Gershwin (incluindo "I Got Rhythm" e "S' Wonderful"). Os números musicais possuem uma série de predicados próprios, embaladas pela sempre criativa coreografia de Kelly e pelo fantástico tato na direção de arte de Minnelli. De fato, torna-se tão fácil se deixar seduzir pelo seu "cinema dos sonhos" (como definiram os críticos da Cahiers du Cinema) e acabar suprimindo as falhas narrativas do filme. Mas o que fez Sinfonia de Paris realmente conquistar seu lugar na história do cinema foram os frenéticos dezoito minutos finais: uma sequência única de balé onde o casal revive sua história de amor utilizando pinturas de consagrados artistas impressionistas franceses como cenário. É neste momento em que o perfeito casamento da arte de Kelly e de Minnelli criam algumas das mais belas imagens já capturadas em película. Se a cena final é apressada e obviamente calculada é porque o diretor sabia que nada conseguiria superar aqueles momentos. Melhor mesmo é se retirar enquanto se está no topo.
As is to be expected the movie is full of bright and breezy dance numbers but there's a darkness in it's heart. Levant's character is so gloomily pensive it's hard not to imagine him found hanged in his dingy Parisian apartment soon after the events of the movie. Likewise Foch, a rich American who finds she has plenty of money but few friends. Even the innocent and toothy Caron seems on the cusp of going all "Betty Blue" on Kelly. Strangely for an American film, the most likable character is a Frenchman, Guetary, the only character who really seems at ease with life.
The music and lyrics are famously by the Gershwin brothers (though not composed specifically for the movie) and include such memorable standards as "Our Love is Here to Stay", "I Got Rhythm" and "S'Wonderful". The lyric free closing number is a stunning mix of twentieth century American show tune and late nineteenth century Russian ballet.
If a modern director wanted to end his film with a dialogue free twenty minutes the producers would have a fit. In 1951 audiences sensibilities hadn't been ruined by TV yet and so this was quite acceptable. The plot is put aside for a hypnotically lit and wildly choreographed production, full of surrealistic imagery and kinetic camerawork. This was the first color film to win an Oscar since "Gone With The Wind", and what color! It's hard to believe this wasn't photographed by the same DP responsible for "The Band Wagon", but in the studio system technicians were talented enough to be interchangeable. A director of Minnelli's vision could adapt any cinematographer to his vision.
Kelly wanted this to be actually filmed in Paris but thankfully Minnelli got his way and shot it completely on the backlot. Had it been shot on location I don't think it would be half the movie as the director's magic realism sensibility would have been compromised. It's not so easy to stage complex dance numbers in the cramped streets of a European city.
If you want an accomplished yet fun feast of film-making with a melancholy undertow this is well worth your time. S'wonderful!
[b]My mind to me a kingdom is,
Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That earth affords or grows by kind:
Though much I want though most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.[/b]
- [color=RoyalBlue]Sir Edward Dwyer[/color]
[b]I find a little giggle-gas before I begin gives me immense pleasure.[/b] -[color=SandyBrown] Orin Scrivello[/color]
[b]Many times I've lied, many times I've listened
Many times I've wondered how much there is to know.[/b] - [color=Gray]Robert Plant[/color]
[b]I told myself I'd make an entry about my Halloween costume, but that sort of never materialized. Perhaps I'll resurrect that endeavor, seeing as how my journal is collecting stale fingerprints from users shuffling past it to all the other updates in this asylum. Maybe later tonight I'll update? Yeah, no. Also, this is the best quote you've ever read.[/b] [b]I'll quote myself to prove it. Yeah. No. [/b]- [color=Green]Neum Daddy/Neumthor/NeumDagger/Neumorado Sexington/Somebody Else[/color][b]
Perhaps, if I am lucky, the feeble efforts of my lifetime will someday be noticed, and maybe, in some small way, they will be acknowledged as the greatest works of genius ever created by Man.[/b] - Jack Handey[color=Red]
Intelligence recognizes what has happened. Genius recognizes what will happen.[/b] - [color=Red]John Ciardi[/color]
[b]You know, if I were to die right now, in some sort of fiery explosion due to the carelessness of a friend...well, that would just be ok.[/b] - [color=YellowGreen]Spongebob Squarepants
[/color] [b]The problem with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.[/b] - [color=Red]Bertrand Russell[/color]
[b]I've finally found someone I can love - a good, clean love...without utensils.[/b] - [color=DeepSkyBlue]Frank Drebin[/color]
[b]The vision and the faculty divine;
Yet wanting the accomplishment of verse.[/b] - [color=Sienna]William Wordsworth[/color]
[b]It's always darkest just before it goes pitch black. [/b]- [color=DarkSlateGray]...uh, modern proverb?[/color]
[b]Winning is not everything, but wanting to win is.[/b] - Vince Lombardi
[b]Art is dangerous. It is one of the attractions. When it ceases to be dangerous, you don't want it.[/b] -[color=Navy] Duke Ellington[/color]
[b]We ask for strength and you give us difficulties which make us strong;
We ask for wisdom and you send us problems, the solutions of which develop wisdom;
We plead for prosperity and you give us a brain and brawn to work;
We plead for courage and you give us dangers to overcome.
We ask favors and you give us opportunities;
Therefore, Great Spirit, we ask you bless us and assist us according to thy will.[/b] - [color=DarkOrange]Unknown[/color]
The film's namesake may derive from one particular American, but the film follows several leads and stories, and although each story is decent, a couple of them feel expendable, while the rest run too closely together in formula, resulting in a hint of convolution and a great deal of repetition, exacerbated by some overlong scene structuring. Of course, most of the excess is found within the musical aspects of this film, because even though each number is worth having to liven things up, from tunes which overemphasize a throwaway theme, to that blasted 16-minute-long ballet climax, plenty of numbers take away from the focus of the plot progression, while few have a place in the context of grounded storytelling to begin with. More numbers than expected fit into the focus of the film pretty organically, but more than a few just don't gel with the believability of a story which is already melodramatized by heavy-handed fluff that comes to characterize the narrative, yet would be easier to embrace if the script didn't exacerbate the cheesiness with some cornball humor and thin characterization. Plenty of the writing is clever, or at least colorful enough to compensate for its superficialities, but if laz elements to Alan Jay Lerner's script don't lead to conventions, they lead to an overly simple, safe approach to subject matter which doesn't exactly set a solid bar for powerful storytelling. The story concept is ultimately inconsequential, with no heavy conflicts or deep themes, just romantic fluff punctuated by lively musical aspects and artistry, and although that makes for a fun film, it isn't entirely Best Picture material, especially when depth is further superficialized by excess, cheese and even a degree of laziness to storytelling. When it comes to entertainment value, this film is very inspired, but when that inspiration buckles, there's no getting past the questionable structuring and lightheartedness which would have rendered the final product forgettable if it wasn't so historically important. Well, the memorability of the film is reinforced by the liveliness of the film, which is inconsequential, but terribly enjoyable on a visceral and, yes, even aesthetic level.
While not the major height in then-up-and-coming coloration technology that it could have been, Alfred Gilks' cinematographic efforts - taken over by John Alton during the ballet climax - is richly lush, particularly when it does justice to a Parisian setting that isn't explored especially thoroughly, but remains beautiful by its own right, as well as immersive and complimentary to themes on romance and artistry which France's capital is known for being the capital of in the world. These noble themes are the heart and soul of a hopelessly superficial, but colorful story, which messily juggles several branches dealing with life, love and art which are nonetheless enjoyable in concept, with an interpretation that is faithful to the liveliness, but largely focused on the musical aspects of this flick. The film is perhaps most recognized for its musical aspects, and understandably so, partly due to a versatility which encompasses elements of George Gershwin's masterful classicalism, as well as jazzy, showy and all around flashy musical numbers whose instrumentation is sweeping, and whose lyrics by Ira Gershwin are iconically snappy, tight and all around memorable. Like many musicals, this film forces in many numbers, but it's hard to wish away any of them, as they're all so well-written and orchestrated, and further brought to life by a cast full of spirited singers, and a few dynamite dancers, especially the infectiously tap-happy Gene Kelly. Of course, Kelly and his peers do more than just deliver on snappy tunes and moves, for just about every member of this arguably overblown cast - from the colorful Kelly and the charismatically subdued Oscar Levant, to the devilishly winning Georges Guétary and a beautiful, 19-year-old Leslie Caron - delivers on impeccable charm and chemistry which bring a lot of life to this celebration of life. The thespians' color is at least brought to light by the color within Vincente Minnelli's direction, which is among the least lazy aspects of this superficial film, as it makes sure that every single scene at least feels tight, with a perky air whose colorful heights are soaring in their technical proficiency, aesthetic sweep and overall entertainment value. I've said it time and again, but I must emphasize that this film is truly a lot of fun, and although it is hardly anything more than that, and therefore very underwhelming from a dramatic standpoint, the entertainment value ought to endear through and through, despite the natural shortcomings it comes with, and the consequential shortcomings which challenge it.
Once the routine has wrapped, the film takes too much time - largely with the help of somewhat forced musical numbers - to tell a cheesy, formulaic and ultimately superficial story, and doesn't stand a chance of transcending underwhelmingness, challenged respectably enough by the lush cinematography, immersive art direction, outstanding soundtrack and dance numbers, charming cast, and lively direction which secure "An American in Paris" as a classically fun, if inconsequential tribute to life, love and art in the most romantic city in the world.
2.5/5 - Fair