Starring: Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Running Time: 113 mins
An American In Paris is an American film about an artist and two of his friends who struggle to find love, until he and one of them falls in love with the same woman.
I like a good movie musical from time to time, and the Golden Age of Hollywood is the perfect place to find the best of them. That’s why I was pretty disappointed with An American In Paris. Sure, it looks nice, the dance choreography’s impressive and it has a happy, gleeful atmosphere, but I never felt properly engaged with its story, and the introduction of a series of relatively underwhelming musical numbers and insanely overlong dance numbers made the film a disappointingly dull watch for me.
Now, the film’s stature as a Best Picture winner will never be taken away from it, and I’m clearly not in the majority in not liking the film so much. So, let’s start off with some of the positives that can be found from An American In Paris, and why some of you movie musical fans may have more fun with it than I did.
First off, the whole film looks absolutely lovely. Portraying Paris in the way only Hollywood can, the costume and production design is wonderful to look at from start to finish. Also, there’s nothing painfully bad about the film, simply because it has such a jolly and gleeful atmosphere. Much like On The Town before it and the later Singin’ In The Rain, this film’s happy vibes make it a more pleasant and easy-going watch, even if it isn’t the most enthralling.
What’s more is that there are a couple of musical and dance numbers that aren’t all that bad. Fitting in with the overall happy atmosphere of it all, there are a couple of moments which are nice to tap along to, as well as some very impressive dance choreography, which I’m sure fans of the ballet would definitely appreciate.
The main problem with An American In Paris for me, however, is that it’s a little too much style over substance. It may have a lovely feel to it, but the issue is that it’s just not an interesting enough story to carry through all the singing and dancing. The performances are okay, but I never felt a real passion from the likes of Gene Kelly and his co-stars, particularly when the romance story comes to a head later on, which was disappointing to see, and didn’t help my already waning interest.
And whilst some of the songs and dances are nice, others really drag on. There are a couple of moments in Singin’ In The Rain where the same happens, although its story is good enough to keep you on throughout, however here, I just felt like completely checking out when it came to yet another pretty, but rather uninteresting musical number, which isn’t what I want to see from a snappy movie musical.
I suppose it’s a real question of taste. Unlike On The Town, which is also based on a stage play, An American In Paris feels almost like a direct copy of the play onto the big screen. It’s a lovely-looking film, and the dancing is very impressive, but unlike the theatre-going audience who may be able to appreciate a 15 minute ballet sequence (which is how the film ends), I just wasn’t so blown away by all that here, and its sub-par story didn’t do much to rectify that, which is why I’m giving it a 6.5 overall.