I’ve never loved An American In Paris. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a musical and I love musicals but An American In Paris has never been an obsession with me. I never really tried to figure it out, you like some stuff and others not so much but recently Jacq invited me to go to Studio Movie Grill where they have throwbacks on Wednesdays and it was showing. I hadn’t seen it in probably 35+ years and we watched it and I discovered I liked it more and why I didn’t like it when I was young and it comes down to one thing: ballet.
While Singing in the Rain is as close to a perfect musical for me it has that one little bit of dream sequence with ballet on other stuff where I’m not sure what it’s doing. And to young me interpretive dance was totally beyond the comprehension of my logical, linear thinking mind. An American In Paris has some wonderful numbers but overall Jerry (Gene Kelly) is kind of a cad. For those not in the know the movie is about Jerry Mulligan who’s a struggling artist living in Paris. He resists the advances of Milo (Nina Fochs,) a wealthy female patron, because she’s female and everything to do with women are on his terms. The film was released and set in 1951 so attitudes are understandable. Instead he’s attracted to Lise (Leslie Caron in her debut) who is annoyed with Jerry’s brutish attempts to flirt but quickly acquiesces and they’re dating and soon, in love. Things go sour when Lise’s fiance gets a deal in America and decides get married and take her on his tour. Then there’s the ballet.
The twenty minute ballet at the end was the most interesting part of An American In Paris this time around. My adult self had matured enough that interpretive dance was no longer an alien thing. I’m still not entirely sure of everything that went on but that’s kind of the point. The dance was graceful, beautiful and a wonder to behold. Strangely the preceding portion of the film despite it’s fun numbers was the disappointment. I probably never paid attention to how much of a macho jerk Jerry was on previous viewings which really may have only been one previous viewing. I don’t know that An American In Paris will ever be the great film for me that it is for others but certainly worth viewing if you are a fan of musicals.