Tuesday, March 29, 2016

An American in Paris

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer back in Hollywood's Golden Age was basically synonymous with big musicals. (You can thank Arthur Freed for that distinction.) Nine times out of ten, MGM was the studio responsible for the most famous musicals of the 40s and 50s.

Vincente Minnelli's An American in Paris is no exception. Being one of the few musicals to win Best Picture, it provided 1951 audiences with an escape to a romance in post-World War II Paris. (Come to think of it, Moulin Rouge! perhaps borrowed a few cues from this.)

Minnelli himself was no stranger to the musical genre, By this point in his career, he had done the likes of Meet Me in St. Louis and The Pirate but he still had yet to prove to Hollywood what he could. With An American in Paris, it firmly cemented Minnelli's status in the film world.

As seen with later musicals The Band Wagon and Gigi, Minnelli captures the lush details of An American in Paris within the various musical numbers. Whether it's the choreography or the costumes, he uses his keen eye for those moments. (And maybe the occasional shot of Gene Kelly's backside...)

Now you may be wondering how a George Gershwin-based musical managed to win Best Picture over A Streetcar Named Desire and A Place in the Sun. The answer is a simple one, really. Just watch that climactic ballet, and that should answer that nagging question.

My Rating: ****

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