An American in Paris Reviews
Beyond the vibrant visuals and appealing performances, the captivating dance scenes and classic Gershwin musical numbers are the sweetest moments in the film. The ballet scene at the beginning where Lisa poses in different dresses and colored sets, the amazing scene with Gene Kelly sings to all the French children in English and the extravagant mass dance sequence at the end that encompasses like 10 different sets and 200 dancers. It's all incredible.
It isn't perfect, though. The film is really light. The narrative is simple and harmless, focused on a struggling artist caught between two women and finally ending up with the one he loves (the fact that he and his acquaintance love the same woman is an interesting dynamic, though). The characters are very likable, but don't have much depth. The story doesn't have any weight or significance, it's just really fun. If you're looking for a film with a human story and intriguing ideas, this isn't it. An American in Paris is an old-fashioned musical designed to do little, but charm and entertain.
Great Dancing Singing Acting, especially by the always effervescent Gene Kelly.
A bit plain on story, but it's all about the dance numbers and the classic songs.
If you want a great story with all the high flying fun of Kelly, see Singin In The Rain, but this is a close second..
4.5 out of 5 grinning strut walks
The problem is that all of this beauty exists in a movie that has disturbing things to say about women. This starts with the character Milo Roberts, played by Nina Foch. She is the villain of the movie, according to the men, but by modern sensibilities never comes across as villainous at all. The male characters take her to task for showing at patron's and romantic interest in the artist Jerry Mulligan, played by Gene Kelly. A particularly harsh verbal attack at a wild party that leads into the final dance number suggests she is a vile predator, despite her being age-appropriate for the late-30s Gene Kelly.
Contrast that appropriateness with Mulligan's pursuit of the 19-year old Lise Bouvier, played by Leslie Caron. He stalks her despite her discomfort and then her verbal requests for him to stop being inappropriate. Perhaps his character is supposed to be much younger than Gene Kelly was at the time, but the nearly 20-year difference between the two is obvious. The storyline parallels Kelly's real life discovery an patronage of Caron, and today it is shocking that this is considered just fine when it is an older man helping a young woman, but a scandal when it is an older woman helping a similarly-aged man.
The plot concerns a four-way triangle and ends with a disturbing scene that suggests Lise is an object to be handed between men at their digression. She is not the one who gets to make the choice.
The music and the dancing are, of course, absolutely wonderful and the only reason I give this three stars. Another highlight is Oscar Levant's orchestral fantasy, complete with him at every instrument. It is unclear, though, what purpose his character actually serves. He becomes aware of the various romantic entanglements, but doesn't do or say anything about it except condemn Roberts. By the end of the movie he has had no character arc and there are not hints about what will happen with him and his music. Like Roberts, his character is dropped before the final number, without resolution.