An American in Paris

1951

An American in Paris

Critics Consensus

The plot may be problematic, but such concerns are rendered superfluous by Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron's star power, the Gershwins' classic songs, and Vincente Minnelli's colorful, sympathetic direction.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 62

79%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 26,415
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An American in Paris Photos

Movie Info

Gene Kelly does his patented Pal Joey bit as Jerry Mulligan, an opportunistic American painter living in Paris' "starving artists" colony. He is discovered by wealthy Milo Roberts (Nina Foch), who becomes Jerry's patroness in more ways than one. Meanwhile, Jerry plays hookey on this setup by romancing waif-like Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron) -- who, unbeknownst to him, is the object of the affections of his close friend Henri (Georges Guetary), a popular nightclub performer. (The film was supposed to make Guetary into "the New Chevalier." It didn't.) The thinnish plot is held together by the superlative production numbers and by the recycling of several vintage George Gershwin tunes, including "I Got Rhythm," "'S Wonderful," and "Our Love Is Here to Stay." Highlights include Guetary's rendition of "Stairway to Paradise"; Oscar Levant's fantasy of conducting and performing Gershwin's "Concerto in F" (Levant also appears as every member of the orchestra); and the closing 17-minute "American in Paris" ballet, in which Kelly and Caron dance before lavish backgrounds based on the works of famed French artists. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Cast

Gene Kelly
as Jerry Mulligan
Leslie Caron
as Lise Bouvier
Oscar Levant
as Adam Cook
Nina Foch
as Milo Roberts
Georges Guétary
as Henri Baurel
Eugene Borden
as George Mattieu
Martha Bamattre
as Mathilde Mattieu
Mary Young
as Old Woman Dancer
Ann Codee
as Therese
George Davis
as Francois
Mary Jones
as Old Lady Dancer
Hayden Rorke
as Tommy Baldwin
Madge Blake
as Edna Mae Bestram (customer)
Paul Maxey
as John McDowd
Dick Wessel
as Ben Macrow
Andre Charisse
as Dancing Partner
Art Dupuis
as Driver
John Eldredge
as Jack Jansen
Noel Neill
as American Girl
Anna Q. Nilsson
as Kay Jansen
Alfred Paix
as Postman
Don Quinn
as Honeymooner
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Critic Reviews for An American in Paris

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (12)

  • One of the great MGM musicals.

    Feb 22, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Inspired by the late George Gershwin's impressionistic musical suite of the same name, the picture is one of the finest musicals Hollywood has ever produced.

    Feb 22, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Imperfect, then, but intermittently awe-inspiring.

    Feb 22, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Seven Oscars resulted in 1952, for once deserved.

    Oct 28, 2011 | Rating: 4/5
  • It is a little sugary and theatrical and perhaps it has dated less well than other classic Hollywood musicals. But there is charm and a kind of willed American innocence.

    Oct 27, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Gene Kelly remains one of the best and brightest of the Golden Era musical stars and An American in Paris shows him in fine form.

    Jan 25, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for An American in Paris

  • Jun 03, 2016
    It's such a pleasure to see an actor have so much fun onscreen. Outrageously charming and supremely talented, one cannot help but admire the charisma and mastery Gene Kelly brings to the screen. You simply cannot take your eyes off the moments of artistic flourish, and there are many to behold. What a delightful movie!
    Jeff L Super Reviewer
  • Aug 19, 2014
    Wait, I thought that she found love in Monaco, not Paris. I'm almost embarrassed to say that I sometimes mix up Gene Kelly's and Grace Kelly's names, and this film may have made it harder to distinguish the two, not just because this film is about that good ol' France romance, but because it shows me how much of a girly man Kelly was. Well, he at least seems like a wimp when I compare this film to my expectations, because, seriously, with all of this ballet and what have you, where is the blasted werewolf? ...Hm, maybe I should read even more into classic cinema, because I'm starting to sound about as crazy as the idea of turning some kind of an orchestral poem into a two-hour-long movie. Well, maybe this film isn't too ambitious with its padding out George Gershwin's subject matter, because the plot is about the length of a poem, and the rest of the film is the ballet number at the climax. Maybe that sequence isn't that long, but it's 16 minutes long, for goodness' sake, which makes the transformation sequence in "An American Werewolf in London" look like nothing, thus, it appears that it takes less time to transform into a werewolf than it does to transform from a sailor to a, "thailor"... you know, with a lisp. Mind you, Kelly's character is ex-Army, but he couldn't seem to wash the real-life Naval experience off of his clothes in this film, which isn't to say that that's the only questionable aspect of this fun little flick which stands to be more little. 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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Oct 16, 2013
    An American dancer/artist and piano player pursue Paris ladies with the help of a French singer. Delightful and fun, as most classic film musicals are, <i>An American in Paris</i> 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 <i>Singing in the Rain</i>, <i>An American in Paris</i> might have been a four-star film. Overall, though it's largely insubstantial, this film is nevertheless fun to watch.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Feb 23, 2013
    Its so beautifully free-form in its execution that its impossible not to fall in love with every moment. The fantasy ballet at the finale is brilliant.
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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