Unlike the magical Singin’ in the Rain, Gene Kelly’s An American in Paris doesn’t transcend the musical form; but it’s still one of the great exemplars of the genre. The plot, characterizations, and love story are all paper-thin, but they’re just a pretext for Kelly’s effervescent dancing and choreography, and George Gershwin’s timeless music.
In a conceit both touching and surreal, Kelly plays an American ex-G.I. in Paris who’s never wanted anything but to paint, though he’s obviously the best hoofer in France.
As in Singin’ in the Rain, Kelly is caught between two women — one controlling, artificial, and aggressive (Nina Foch); one down-to-earth and charmingly plain-spoken (newcomer Leslie Caron). Since Foch isn’t nearly as much fun as shrill Lina Lamont, this film compensates by giving Kelly a rival for Caron (Georges Guetary).
The film’s big claim to fame is the climactic set piece: an extravagant 17-minute ballet sequence that’s one of Hollywood’s longest ever. But Kelly is poetry in motion even when not dancing. Just to watch him get out of bed in the first scene and negotiate the space-saving world of his tiny apartment is a study in rhythm and grace.
True to type, Crosby plays nice and Astaire shallow: Jim (Crosby) loves his dance partner and wants to marry her and settle down, but Ted (Astaire) wants to dance with her, and steals her away from Jim. Heartbroken, Jim retires to the Connecticut farm where he had hoped to settle down, but soon finds that show business is in his blood, and hits on the novel idea of turning his farmhouse into a dinner theater that operates only on holidays.
The quintessential Fred-and-Ginger vehicle, Top Hat features some of the most glorious, memorable dance sequences ever filmed.
Celebrating its 60th anniversary in style, Singin’ in the Rain comes to Blu-ray with an astoundingly good-looking new transfer of the best available film elements.
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