“This is Paris, and I’m an American who lives here. My name is Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly), and I’m an ex-G.I. In 1945 when the army told me to find my own job, I stayed on. And I’ll tell you why: I’m a painter, and all my life that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. And for a painter the Mecca of the world for study, for inspiration, and for living is here on this star called Paris.” And thus, we meet Jerry Mulligan in his attic apartment/studio at the beginning of the movie.
Our next acquaintance is Adam Cook (Oscar Levant). He’s a struggling concert pianist that lives in the next attic apartment.
Henri Baural (Georges Guétary) is a well-known Parisian nightclub singer who frequents the neighborhood and meets up with old friend Cook to tell him about his girlfriend Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron). She’s just about perfect according to Baural.
Mulligan is one of many struggling artists who set up on the street to sell paintings. There, he meets a lady named Milo Roberts (Nina Foch). She is interested in him from the outset and agrees to purchase two of his paintings. It turns out that she’s very wealthy and he does not really know what to make of her.
Later in the day she takes him to a nightclub where she introduces him to some friends. While there, he catches first sight of a girl, who turns out to be Lise Bouvier. The minute he sees her is enamored. Although he’s just earlier in the day met Henri Baural, he has no idea that she is his girlfriend.
He quickly falls in love. Jerry loves Lise. Henri loves Lise. Milo loves Jerry. Lise loves…? Looks like this is going to be a problem.
The music is by Ira and George Gershwin and it’s top-notch. Memorable songs from the soundtrack include “Our Love Is Here to Stay” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”
Gene Kelly dances frequently as there are elaborate production numbers throughout. An American in Paris also won the Best Picture Oscar in 1952 as well as winning five other Oscars. Other than French exterior shots the movie was filmed on MGM’s lot and the backdrop is very appealing for the entire movie.
Leslie Caron is a native of France and was first “discovered” by Gene Kelly when appearing in a ballet in Paris (according to her profile on imdb.com). Kelly was looking for a newcomer to play the part of Lise Bouvier in this movie and she was chosen.
An American in Paris is almost two hours long. If you love musicals, like your humble reviewer, you should find this film quite satisfying.