Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #12 (From AN AMERICAN IN PARIS)

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30 minutes ago, jeaninejj said:

While I love AAIP, I also agree that Jerry Mulligan is obnoxious toward Lise (she even calls him on it), treats Milo like a spare tire, and overall acts like a spoiled kid.  Sure, if you want to spend two years in Paris living cheap while trying to sell your own mediocre artwork, that's fine.  Also, on Milo's part, if she wants to spend her money "buying" companionship, OK.  But she could buy a better companion - one who would actually flatter her and pay attention to her. 

Gigi to me is creepy - the dialog about and treatment of women in that film highlights older men using and tossing aside women who are often younger.  The movie is gorgeous, and I love Leslie Caron, but the last time I saw the film on big screen (about two years ago) I couldn't really watch Maurice Chevalier ogling "little girls."

So - to indulge my love of musicals, I often have to blink past the gender treatments. 

Thanks for your thoughts, A Ryan Seacrest Type!

I so agree with you about Gigi. Chevalier is downright creepy, and the idea of turning a smart, pretty young girl into a **** is disgusting. It doesn't hold up at all, in spite of the wonderful Leslie Caron.

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  1. Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film?  No, Kelly tends to be known for tap.  In this movie, the ballet is more of a dream sequence.  This way it does not have to be realistic.
     
  2. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable?  Who could hate Gene Kelly?  He has a sarcastic wit, but a grin that is forgivable.

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13 hours ago, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:
  • Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film?
     
  • What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable?

1. I think it does. Having less stylized and fantastical scenes and more down to earth normality and realistic scenes keeps the film balanced. Imagination and stylistic scenes are nice and can work really well in a movie but thats not real life. A movie needs to have some reality and be grounded in real life in order for the  movie to not be seen as totally unrealistic which can be unappealing. But the realistic scenes and elements of the story makes the fantasy elements much of a greater pay off for the audience. A movie needs a good balance of both in order for it to work.

2. The environment Mulligan is in and his atmosphere somehow makes you like him even though he says some pretty unlikable things like his comment on the college student. He walks up the street towards his place to put up his paintings. The music is nice and cheerful. It makes you feel good.His paintings are interesting and you can see he is a talented artist. Other paintings on the walkway of what other artists are showing are fun and interesting so his own work seems appropriate to exhibit in that space. Where he is in the middle of a crowded street but it looks like a regular day in Paris. The setting of the scene is one where you can imagine yourself being in and seeing Jerry's paintings. There are children playing, people walking around and talking to each other in the background, everyone seems pleasant. Its bright and sunny. His conversation with the rich woman is more positive and he does know what he is talking about even when he made that disparaging comment to the student. He may have unlikable moments but somehow its not so bad because of where he is located. The location and what he is surrounded by makes up for it. 

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1. I don't think so. The ballet is a fantasy, it shouldn't have a very realistic element to it.

2. He is only seen as unlikeable when he insults the girl. Otherwise, he has a bounce in his step and people generally enjoy him.

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I have a lot to say about this particular daily dose, partly because the curator's comments were particularly interesting and insightful, and partly because An American in Paris is the film that sealed the deal for me in terms of becoming a lifelong fan of Gene Kelly.

1) I think the ballet, as a more or less self-contained island within the film, is about as stylized as the film ever gets.  Just prior to it, we have the highly stylized and visually arresting Beaux Arts ball, where nearly everything is black and white.  That said, the Minnelli touch is everywhere, and as we've already learned, every detail means something.  So while the bulk of the film, taking place in the streets, or in Jerry or Adam's apartments, or alongside the Seine (or what have you), may be more naturalistic and less outwardly stylized, every scene was put together with the greatest of care, intention, and attention to detail. Personally, I think if the whole film had been decked out as the ballet or the ball are decked out it would be too much.  We don't need another Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, or even The Pirate (though it works in the context of that intentionally over the top film). 

2) Another commenter (I think it was Joshua Goodstein) mentioned that Jerry Mulligan is more or less eminently unlikable throughout the film.  Despite being a champion of Kelly, I am inclined to agree that in many scenes, Jerry is boorish, pushy bordering on 'stalkerish,' and overly insouciant.  I know that we are supposed to think Milo is a sort of predator, and maybe she is, but Nina Foch played her with a gentle vulnerability that makes me pity her.  Despite the film's attempt to get me excited about a match between Jerry and Lise, I am left thinking that Jerry doesn't really deserve either of the women in his love triangle - and that he isn't man enough to handle a real woman.  Leslie Caron is adorable as Lise, and they actually do have a bit of chemistry in SOME scenes (but not all of them - ugh), but she is depicted as a shy and quiet gamine little thing.  A girl.  Nina Foch may have been only 26, but she very convincingly gives off sophistication and experience.

All of that aside, he still has tremendous personal charm.  Kelly's smile alone could charm the soda from a biscuit.  I really think it is his persona that saves the character from being an absolute heel.  And, as others have pointed out, by the time we get to this scene we know Jerry's story.  We know he's our protagonist; we know he served as a GI; we know he's broke; we know kids and little grannies love him.  So we give him the benefit of the doubt.  The other thing that saves him is the fact that the third year girl is pretty annoying.  "Relax, sister... I'm from Perth Amboy, New Jersey."  In this scene, his insouciance is appealing, and Kelly does a good job capturing the lackadaisical approach Jerry has to making a living and dealing with potential customers.  As Gary Rydstrom has pointed out, he moves like a dancer no matter what he is doing, and he is always using his body to convey emotion.  Here, his entire physical person seems to be shrugging at just about every moment.   

I love that the crummy nature of Jerry's paintings was pointed out.  I've always felt that they were the kind of thing a person could pick up as a cheap print from a 'bouquiniste,' and the idea that Milo, as a wealthy patron and promoter of art, takes them seriously, is ludicrous.  Knowing that Minnelli would have known they were rubbish, and hearing someone else point this out, leads me to the conclusion that they are intentionally lousy, and that Milo is promoting his work only to get close to him - obviously, yes - but like from the very beginning and to an extreme degree.  Such is the power of Kelly's charm... 🙂

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1. The visual look of "An American In Paris" has always reminded me of a Ludwig Bemelman's "Madeline" story come to life, with its bold colors and Impressionistic style, and even though the performances are fairly realistic, the overall feel of the film is to me quite stylized. I think it would be wrong for the final ballet not to match the tone of the rest of the film, as it would feel tacked-on and less of an integral part than it should. If the tone and look of the film had been more realistic, the stylized fantasy ballet would be out of place.

2. The fact that Gene Kelly is playing Jerry automatically gives him an advantage, as no matter what part he is playing, he always manages to imbue them with his signature Irish charm and magnetism so you can't help but like him. I don't see Jerry being that unlikeable in this scene; his reaction to the college girl's unwarranted criticism of his artwork is fairly natural, if a bit less tactful than the average person's. He doesn't come off as unlikeable to the other characters in the scene; and while I wouldn't disagree that throughout the rest of the film he's not the most congenial character, it fits with his role as the titular American in Paris, and in any case, it's Gene Kelly; what's not to like?

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1. Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film?
It's an artsy film. Less realism the better especially in a ballet. Not a favorite of mine.

2. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable?

He seems very friendly with the locals and has a skip in his step. Clearly he has had art students come around and critique his art acting like the most respected, knowledgeable art critics in the world, so after awhile I'd be annoyed too. Plus they don't buy anything. Gene Kelly can play cad but he never fully succumbs.

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1.  Having a more realistic approach blended with other scenes using more imagery and imagination makes the film more accessible to a wider audience and also creates a special effect.  The scenes that represent the real world rather than a dream or imagination are important in moving the story foward and maintaining the attention of some audience members who might not "get it".  The stylized scenes like the ballet are gorgeous.  The other parts of the film telling Jerry and Lise's story are also beautifully filmed but with more realism. The colors, attention to detail all reflect the overall quality of the visuals in this film.  

2. Jerry is a complicated character, he is not very likable, his attitude towards women leaves a bit to be desired, even measuring it against the standards of the 50s. He has a great big chip on his shoulder which is never really explored in the story.  Just a frustrated struggling artist.  We also learn he is a veteran of WWII.  One of his redeeming qualities, however is his interactions with the local folk.  This is also evident in other scenes in the movie, most notably the "I Got Rhythm" number with the children.  

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Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film?

Only if it's done as a statement. I think the contrast is helpful to express emotion and internal growth or dialogue.

 

What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable?

Partly his clothes, being casual but clean. He may not be likeable, but he is logical. The logic is approachable and understandable.

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Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film?

I don’t think so. The stylized approach is a great cue to let the viewers know that they’re watching a dream or memory sequence. Maybe such a transition takes some getting used to on the part of viewers, but once they’ve started watching musicals and get used to the technique, it’s easier to see why it’s done.

What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikable?

I thought Jerry Mulligan was unlikable in this particular clip, but he’s unlikable (defensive) about his art. He’s friendly otherwise. He could be saying the very same things to critics of his (Gene Kelly’s) dancing, acting, singing, and choreography. But he’s still snotty about it: He doesn’t want to hear any opinions from “third-year girls” because he doesn’t care what they think and he thinks they don’t know what they’re talking about. He does admit to being hurt by people who do know what they’re talking about. I have a feeling that Gene Kelly is still carrying around a chip on his shoulder from his days as a boy and having to fight other boys who thought his dancing lessons made him a sissy. (Psychoanalysis! Grace Kelly got away with some of it in High Society!)

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"For a painter, the mecca of the world for study, for inspiration, and for living is here on this star called Paris.  Just look at it--no wonder so many are have come here and called it home!  Brother, if you can't paint in Paris, you better give up and marry the boss' daughter."  This is Jerry Mulligan"s (Gene Kelly) vocalization at the opening of An American in Paris which explains and justifies his presence in post-WWII France.  Just as actors go to New York for the theatre or Hollywood for movies, painters go to Paris to test their skill and success in their craft.  The Daily Dose clip shows that smooth transition from the real film montage of architectural jewels of the Paris landscape to Vincente Minnelli's recreation of Montmartre with the central tower of the Sacre Coeur in the background.  Minnelli captures the essence and the "feel" of the Parisian artist culture with Jerry's jaunty travels through the side streets. The mise-en-scene is stylized, but it is not over-the-top artificial to the point of being tres gauche and gaudy. Jerry's pause and double take at a Winston Churchill look-alike (or is it really Winston?) is a delightful nod to and confirmation of Jerry's opening lines--even Churchill needs to come to Paris to prove his artistic worth!  Jerry is in good company to test his skills.

It is readily apparent that Jerry is accepted into the Parisian art scene by him stopping to admire a fellow artiste's work and by the French bearded, beret-wearing painter and classically clothed gendarme as they affectionately hug him.  Yes, Jerry is in his comfort zone given that he has his own spot where he regularly sets up his paintings.  It is a bit of a schtick gag to have a fellow artist turn his painting around--showing the notion that modern art is still a bit misunderstood by the general public, but it adds some humor to a light-hearted scene supporting by the jolly strolling background music.   

I always laugh at Noell Neill's depiction of the third-year girl who stops to examine Jerry's paintings.  I started my undergraduate studies at a liberal arts college, Kalamazoo College, in Kalamazoo, Michigan where students went on foreign study during their junior year of the K' Plan, or as Jerry explains: "American college kids.  They come here to take their third year and lap up a little culture."  Neill's nasal, Midwestern accent while speaking French and her desire to analysis the artistic elements of Jerry's painting are so spot-on with the American student desiring to extract the most out of his or her foreign study experience.  Jerry is ruff and abrupt with the third-year girl because he knows that she does not have the money to buy one of his creations; he is quick and shrewd is his assessment of her status.  His attitude is parallel to the American businessman's philosophy of "time means money."  In this postwar period, businesses and industries are eager to get on with making a profit, and Jerry is no different than the average Joe who is concerned with the bottom line--make money and dispenses with the formal necessities of conversation.   This street is Jerry's office, and it represents his work day.                                                                                                                                                                                                When the camera pans to Milo watching the interaction of Jerry and the third-year girl, the viewer catches a glimpse of a Degas painting of ballet dancers in their tutus.  Perhaps, this is a hint of the dream sequence ballet that will happen at the end of the film as well as Lise's balletic introduction through the conversation Henri Baurel (George Guetary) and Adam Cook (Oscar Levant).  Again, these small details help build in the viewer's mind that Paris is a place of artistic beauty and romantic endeavor--Paris as the city of love.  Jerry observes that Milo is more sophisticated and therefore, wealthy by her clothes and how she carries a mink stole on her arm; I think he estimates that she has some money, but is surprised by how much money she is willing to pay for his paintings.  When she says that she does not have the cash, Jerry is disillusioned by his estimation of her status, but he is reaffirmed when he sees her car with a chauffeur.  Jerry has hit the jackpot!                                                                                                                                                                                                                Overall, Jerry Mulligan is a likable character who has a sense of his own charm and a confidence in his economic and social pursuits.  He is very American in his attitude that he is capable of getting what he wants whether it is a business transaction of his paintings or the romantic fulfillment of love.  He goes at each task with a no-fuss,  a what-you-see-is-what-you-get perceptive.  Perhaps it is not intended, but Jerry dressing in all white is indicative of a house painter, a more vocational job but less artistic profession. His clothing ensemble may connect with the working-class audience who can see Jerry as a regular Joe. Jerry is not pretentious; he does not try to be more sophisticated to appeal to any person. He is genuine and authentic in his personality.  Perhaps, this lack of a facade is what attracts children to crowd around him when he returns to his apartment from painting, that and a supply of bubble gum! He is playful and childlike is his musical instruction.  Jerry is a gentleman in stepping aside when Lise decides to go to America with Henri, but he is openly overjoyed when she returns.  He does wear his emotional heart on his sleeve; no French aloofness has invaded his persona. The audience cheers for the American hero who wins the French girl by being himself.

One of my favorite parts of this film is at the beginning when Jerry is waking up in his tiny Paris apartment and getting his breakfast ready.  This simple scene is a dance of intricate movements with Kelly's feet, but it tells the viewer so much about his life through movement and background music.  College students, as well as struggling artists, can relate to living in small spaces with limited resources.

 

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1.  Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film?

Being a musical, this film doesn’t necessarily have to rely on being too realistic. It needs to maintain a certain degree of realism in order to show the stark differences between the real Paris and the fantasy of the ballet sequence; but in musicals, realism more often than not takes a backseat to stylism and illusion. Hollywood, in general, is famous (or even infamous) for its insistence on glamorizing everything and everyone.


2.  What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable?

Gene Kelly had developed a persona throughout his career of playing characters who could be likeable one minute and then very critical and even narcissistic the next. This scene shows an interesting example of that persona, but at the same time his criticism of Noel Neil’s character is right on the money (her annihilation of the French language was almost offensive to me, even though most under-educated Americans take a cynical, insecure atttude toward Americans who do pronounce the language with the correct accent, dismissing it as pretentious, when the truth is using an accent in any foreign language is both correct and required). Kelly correctly dismisses her as one who only cares about gettting a good grade in school and not developing a true appreciation for any culture other than her own. When Nina Foch’s character comes on right after Neil leaves, he becomes that likable guy again when he sees her as a woman who not only appreciates art but one who also has high regard for other cultures, other perspectives and for artistic integrity.

 

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1.     Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film?

I must admit that I have not seen the entire film as of this posting.  In fact, all I have seen so far are this clip, the scene where they try to describe Caron’s character, and the final ballet scene, so my response is largely speculative and may end up missing the mark a bit.  However, as Dr. Ament, Dr. Ghering, and Gary Rydstrom have all noted, this musical is a “luscious love letter to Paris.”  That being said, it seems that the final ballet might represent what most people envision Paris to be: lush and colorful, perhaps more a dream than a reality because people wish to visit that city but many do not have the chance.  Visions of different countries often do not match reality.  I’m not sure if that is a factor in the final dance though.  Nonetheless, the rich colors and the characters who inhabit the dance scene may reflect people’s visions of this beautiful and mysterious foreign city.  Again, I am hoping that this is a logical and coherent speculation.  However, this does not mean that the entire film needs to have this look or feel, nor does the final scene seem incoherent within the larger context of the film.  From the clips that I have seen, Minelli does a masterful job of blending natural colors—which represent reality—and stark backgrounds, some of them in solid colors, especially in the scene where they are trying to describe the type of girl Caron’s character is.  The set for each of her dances contrasts sharply with her outfits because of their single-color schemes.  But primarily, I’m assuming, this is a view of Paris through an American’s eyes, one who does see and must deal with the daily realities of life in Paris.  Therefore, the film needs to reflect that realistically, even though Minelli strays from that periodically without taking away from the film’s realism.

2.     What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable?

Jerry immediately shows his disdain for “third-year” American college girls—who are “officious and dull,” merely repeating opinions they have overheard—by calling the critical student “sister” and telling the “good little girl” to keep walking because she’s “blocking out the sunshine.”  Then later he states it is tough enough to receive criticism from people who do know what they are talking about.  He doesn’t value her opinion and doesn’t want to hear it. If she says something nice, it won’t make him feel any better and if she doesn’t say anything nice, it will bother him.  However, he is surprised and humbled when Milo offers to buy two of his paintings.  We know this is a new experience for him because he doesn’t know how much money he should ask for them: “I never thought I would come to the point where that would be an issue.”  He shows more surprise and even gratitude when she offers to pay 15,000 francs for each one.  Furthermore, when she says she does not have the money, he shows a bit of doubt about his work’s appeal to others, perhaps, when he tells her they will still be available the next day if she returns.  And even though he concludes the scene with the joke about charging her more once he sees her car, he seems to be intimidated her money, once again being humbled as the prototypical “democratic ideal of a ‘regular guy,’” as Gary Rydstrom states in the Curator’s Notes for the clip.

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1. I think it depends on the film. When you're watching a musical you're already watching something 'stylized' and 'fantasy' in some way. People 'stop' the action to sing/dance their feelings. Even though the song/dance may move the action along, it's already stylized. Minnelli so lovingly films every scene in An American in Paris that I feel that the final ballet fits in easily with what we've already seen. Maybe that means the rest of the film is already using a 'less that realistic, stylized approach. Sure, there's a fantasy feel to it, but throughout the movie we've seen Henri perform, we've seen Jerry paint, we've seen Levant fantasize about performing as the entire orchestra, so the ending fits. 

I think there needs to be a little bit of stylized action to lead into a final fantasy scene, so that it isn't jarring. But, maybe sometimes it's meant to be jarring to the viewer. 

2.Maybe because I've seen the film so many times I'm not as bothered by Jerry's actions. (as another member mentioned, he does sort of stalk Lise). In this scene I feel like he's just being an honest American. We already know his character, we've seen him with his friends, we see his enjoyment and fun as he walks to his sidewalk. We also see him conversing with the artist across the street. If his interaction with the 3rd year student wasn't explained, then yes, I think it would make his character unlikable. But, he explains his actions and his reasons, and we, the viewer, are given to understand that he's had those interactions before and doesn't want to waste his time and energy. If he wanted to talk about art I think he'd be studying it somewhere or teaching it somewhere. He's here to sell his art, and if someone comes up who seems like they may want to buy it, then he'll discuss it.

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Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film?

This needn't be the case with a film that includes fantasy-like or stylistically strong elements, especially when those elements are mean to contrast with reality; however, with An American in Paris it is the case anyways. Because this was shot on a backlot in Culver City rather than in Paris, we are already seeing a highly romanticised version of what Paris looks like in reality. So the day-dreaming sequences, such as the beautiful ending ballet, surprisingly do not come across to us as too unusually placed in a film that already uses a highly stylised mise-en-scene in order to transport us to somewhere that perhaps we have never been to before. Because the ballet is Jerry's last fantasy about the woman he loves as she is driving away from him, it is of course going to be much more exaggerated than anything else we have seen, and the fact that it contrasts quite heavily in terms of its usage of colour, staging, and scenery, with the rest of the "this is happening on a typical Paris street" scenes, only serves its purpose in the film as a grand romantic gesture towards a person and a city.

What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable?

What saves him in this particular sequence is that he isn't the worst one in it! As obnoxious and American as he may come across, he does depict a genuine curiosity for other art and for the general beauty of Paris. As he is walking to his corner, he is seen taking in his surroundings while greeting other artists and stopping to admire their work a little - even greeting one by name and having a friendly conversation in French during which they do not seem to mind him too much as a person.

Once the "third year" enters, she instantly becomes the more unlikeable one with her over-bearing American-ness and lack of culture. So much so that Jerry himself shoos her away for us. Then we have the somewhat suspicious "rich woman" that we feel may not have the most honest of intentions having just witnessed how Jerry reacts to those who he deems lesser than he - she also immediately wants to buy all of his paintings which takes Jerry by surprise. As such, the audiences finds themselves reacting in a cautionary way on Jerry's behalf since we feel like maybe he is the one being taken advantage of here. Had this scene not been taken up by other more unsettling and somewhat annoying characters, perhaps the outcome and how we view Jerry would be different. 

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  1. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable?

He is being a realist!

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8 hours ago, A Ryan Seacrest Type said:

Jerry Mulligan is friendly and chatty to most around him at the start of this particular scene.  Unfortunately, that's where it ends.  He blows off the American student for what appears to be no legitimate reason, and while the rest of the clip in particular doesn't make Jerry come off too badly, what happens throughout the rest of the film makes Jerry one of my least likable characters in any movie I've ever seen.

Yes, An American in Paris looks wonderful.  Yes, the dance sequences and dream sequences are beautifully stylized.  Yes, Vincente Minnelli pulled off his usual signature tricks once again.  However, personally, I find this film loathsome.  It legitimately makes me physically ill watching Jerry Mulligan act the way he does to Milo, such as that ridiculous series of actions at the club where he first sees Lisa.  Then later, the way he stalks her.  And let's not sugarcoat it, there's nothing cute about it, he flat-out stalks her.  Later scenes with Jerry and Lisa, and Jerry and Milo, and Jerry and his guy friends (remember how he crumples up a note and tosses it to the ground like a petulant child?).....blergh.  I'm sorry.  An American in Paris is in my bottom-5 of all-time Best Picture winners.  I was hoping this week's Daily Doses wouldn't include this film, but perhaps Gigi instead.  We did get a clip from that one within today's lecture notes, so that made me smile.  Now perhaps I should have some champagne.

 

Thanks for posting this. I've been feeling like such a dolt because I just can't appreciate the "jerk becomes hero" characters that seem to pervade the film industry and even today's TV productions. I've never found bad boys glamorous and I have no respect for the women who succumb to them. I know, I'm totally out of step. Mea culpa .

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1.  I don't think the ending ballet detracts from the Paris theme at all.  It feels.like a small sluce of the city has been put together to.promote the charm of the city.  It actually makes me want to visit the city.

2.  Jerry Mulligan is delightful even when he's being bad.  He can't.keep an element of his own nice personality from the character.

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Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film?

Not quite, because the ballet itself is a fantasy that could never happen in reality. It is created entirely in Jerry's mind and imagination. There are scenes like this in other films of Gene Kelly, where reality takes a back seat and fantasy takes over. Such as The Broadway Melody Ballet in Singin' in the Rain, which is a prime example of a character's imagination gone wild, but in a visually creative way.

What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikable?

When he tells off the third-year student, he actually has a point. When critiquing someone's work, there are always those people who think they know what they're taking about. This happens in the life of an artist or painter. It is an odd moment because when has Gene Kelly ever been unlikable?!

 

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1.  An American in Paris has such a stylized approach because it was the director's vision and a lot of the people going to see the movie may not have ever seen Paris in person.  Also, since the movie is a musical and not a drama, it helps for the movie to have a certain level of fantasy to it.

2. Jerry Mulligan isn't trying to be unlikeable, he is just very frustrated with being an unpaid artist.  He also does not like to get art criticism from people who only have a sophomoric understanding of what constitutes art.

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l like American in Paris just the way it is. Jerry is unlikable in a friendly sort of way you want to dislike him but he kind of grow on you in s special sort of way it is hard to explain but if can read his body language you would see it , he wants you to like him and his paintings but he does not want to be judged.

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1) Many of us have never been to Paris except in the movies, so Minnelli gives us the opportunity to see a recreated Paris on screen and beautiful it is.  Paris is a one of a kind city and Minnelli showcases that throughout the entire movie. Yet it shows the day to day way of life at that time which can be mundane and not exactly exciting.  But then we have surprises like the description of Leslie’s character and at the end Oscar says let’s start over since she appears to be five different girls rolled into one. The ball scene is also beautiful where everyone is in black and white costumes and then you have their dancing by the Seine but not in black and white-a contrast. The ballet at the end is the piece de resistance where color and fantasy and superb dancing hit you right between the eyes. Minnelli did an awesome job in this picture. Not surprising since he was Vincente Minnelli. 

2). I think someone said it earlier that although Gene is rather rude to Noel Neill as a college student, her attitude about wanting to “discuss”his artwork is rather pretentious. She thinks she knows more than she does. You also have to realize that he is a humdrum painter who is down on his luck and it does not look like it is going to get any better. I actually feel sorry for him. No one wants to be patronized whether uneducated or educated.  He gets it from Noel and Nina.  How he gets Leslie Caron in the end is definitely a fantasy. It is hard to dislike Gene Kelly. 

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Love Gene Kelly, but this isn't my favorite Gene Kelly film... in part because I really don't get into ballet scenes (that even makes Oklahoma tough for me to watch.

Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film?

Thankfully, no. The ballet scene was fantasy, and as such, it works for its purpose. But as much as film is an escape, too much surrealism makes for not much enjoyment... at least for this viewer.

 

What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable?

I think knowing his situation (ex-GI, starving artist, etc.) makes the viewer sympathetic to the character. He never truly comes off as unlikeable, merely that he doesn't have time for snooty "third-year girls."

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The use of a ballet scene was fantasy so it is a less stylized scene that and I don't think it is necessary to change anything.

Kelly is only unlikeable when he insults a woman and tells her to go away because he doesn't want to hear her opinion of his work.

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  1. No, of course, a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet does not need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film. I personally do not care for the ballet scenes and feel the film would be better without them.
     
  2. Kelly is a starving artist in Paris who appears to have fallen into a routine of not selling his paintings. It sort of begs the question of how he is keeping himself afloat? He treats the "3rd-year art student" with open disdain. He is less hostile to the second woman but it could be because he sees that she might have money and may not be just "window-shopping." Then when  she actually offers him money for his paintings, he is totally unprepared, which makes him a bit vulnerable. Then when the woman's chauffeur drives up in an expensive car, he seems to be in a gender role reversal. Again he seems to be slightly unsure of his role in the situation.  

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