Gene Kelley in Paris

I’ve gotten to a late start on my movie resolution, but I have finally got to a start with American in Paris (1951). Besides the shots of the Seine River and the cafes that make me long for that hot summer of 2006 when I was in Paris myself, this movie is great because of Gene Kelley.

I love Gene Kelley. He is an excellent choreographer and performer. Singin’ In the Rain (1952) was one of my favorite films as a kid, and because of Gene Kelley, I often dance in the rain. What was truly marvelous about American in Paris was the marriage of dance styles.

Gene Kelley’s jazzy “stage presence” and tap skills are paired, or rather contrasted, by the graceful and disciplined ballerina Leslie Caron. She would later go on to play the title role in Gigi (1958). But her strength and beauty of movement is showcased very well in this 1951 film with Kelley and is most visible when Georges Guetary is introducing her character.

This dazzling film won Oscars in six categories: Best Film, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design (justified because of Kelley’s tight paints one can assume), Best Musical Score, and Best Writing. On top of those wins, Vincente Minnelli (husband to Judy Garland and father of Liza Minnelli) got a nod from the academy for direction.

On a personal note to this movie, I feel for Gene Kelley. Leslie Caron tells him she’s marrying Georges Guetary after Kelley pronounces his love for her. Half way up the stairs, Caron calls after him and says, “If it means anything to you, I love you.” He pauses, looking down at her with a look that clearly says, “Me loving you and you loving me doesn’t mean anything if I can’t keep you” before he walks away. Of course they end up together (spoiler alert. . .) before the credits roll. Their instant satisfaction on screen makes life seem so horrible in comparison.

Love is patient, or so I’m told.

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