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An American in Paris is my favorite musical.  It was placed at the end of the first That's Entertainment movie as MGM's "masterpiece," and well-deserved. The actors, dancers (Gene) singers, and actors were sterling. The production was the culmination of movie musicals in perforamnce, choreography, costume, set design. We know the performers were great, but I wanted to discuss some other creative talent as well, although Gene was "a given," and the best!  

Choreography

The seventeen minute ballet at the end of the film is incredible in its use of ballet, tap, jazz and overall ensemble choreography.  Gene Kelly created a magical Paris, causing the paintings of the famous French artists to come alive (I wonder if this was the origin of the annual Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, CA.) To make art come alive in more ways than one was a feat, only enhanced by Gene Kelly's wonderful interpretation of the music.  I love Gershwin's use of the everyday (car horns) and musical pulses of the city, which Gene Kelly again interpreted so well.

 Costumes

The costume by Vincent Minelli (and I read Irene Sharif?) were straight out of Toulouse Lautrec, Renoir, and other Impressionist painters.  To recreate art with dancers, as posed models of the painting that then come alive was a visual feast. The Furies especially were outstanding, as the ones in red playfully menaced, and the ones in white spun joyfully. The costumes also represented people from all walks of Parisian society - the schoolgirls (similar to Gigi) the French girls who dance around the fountain, alongside the African King who promenades. An Aside: I always like the dancer with the red hat, as she dances round the famous fountain, and envision myself doing that part. : )  The costumes represented not only French society, but also American military men on leave, who don their straw hats and striped suits. It is panacea of costume, and whirling furies that power this ballet of intense color.

Direction / Set

The synchronization of music to choreography to costume change and set design and editing was incredible. As sets revolved, and new sets in new dances appeared, they leapt from one painting to another. The four straw-hatted dancers rise from below to join the schoolgirls, a fabulous entry into the colorful smoke begins a sensual dance, Leslie, at a flower stand does beautiful pointe and disappears into the mist, the jazz dancer in the cafe with Leslie Caron again as Can Can dancer,, representative of the Moulin Rouge... There is a choreography of set movement between and amongst the dancers as well. We end in an ultimate frenzy of whirling characters... to the finale where we end up with the red rose that began the entire artistic fantasy.

One note: In the podcast, Dr. Ament and Gary Rydstrom spoke of the black and white ball - The Beaux Arts Ball, an annual event for art students which was a visual contrast to the hue of the smoke filled set and colorful, whirling fabric. All in all is is a masterpiece, using art.  It is art, recreating art on film (another medium). As I wrote in my own separate article, The Philosophy of The Red Shoes, a ballet film, film is a medium where art can be created, recreated, with life imitating art, imitating life, and all on a two dimensional piece of celluloid. Here, in An American in Paris, we have an ultimate art of embracing existing art, adding living beings to the artistic equation, making painted Parisian wear come alive (period costumes) and move about in another art - dance on film.  Incredible!

A Second Note: I saw the recent Broadway production of Christopher Wheeldon's An American in Paris. Due to copyight/trademark, I am sure, Gene Kelly's choreography was not recreated, some songs were dropped, others were added. Unlike the Broadway revival of On the Town, which was originally a theater show, then filmed, An American in Paris I believe was written originally for the screen; therefore, this was the first attempt to create a triumph on Broadway from the film.

It is interesting that in the Broadway production, Leslie Caron's part of Lise, was played by Leanne Cope, very reminiscent of Leslie Caron. The part of Adam (Oscar Levant's character) was not as comedically gruff, but had a deeper, reflective tone. Robert Fairchild (NYCB) played Jerry. Mulligan. The end ballet was rechoregraphed by Christopher Wheeldon and was excellent, but of course we love the film original as it has imprinted on our psyches so well. A military backstory was added at the beginning for Jerry Mulligan also.

Musical choices were slightly different here as well. There were only five movie Gershwin songs and musical isntrumental  -the musical tone poem (ballet); however, there were various songs used instead on Broadway - all from the Gerwshin songbook - still a win-win situation with Gershwin. The Concerto in F began the theatrical first act (iConcerto - in the film), and the Cuban Overture ended the theatrical first act (not in the film). 

I thought you might like to know some creative choices made for the 2016 Broadway production, which had its previews -where else? Paris! It was interesting to compare the two. 

All in all, An American in Paris - the film is a love song to Paris, and also to all dancers, singers, performers, and viewers.

Thank you, to MGM!

 

 

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Thank you for the wonderful insights AcademeWriter, from another huge fan of AAIP and Gene Kelly. This is one of the things I love about this course- that we are exposed to information from other course members that we otherwise would not have access to. 

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This time watching the film I was struck by the bookends of Caron's changing outfits.  The beginning sequence of her different outfits showing facets of her personality was also reflected in the ending ballet, with Caron in various outfits, albeit tied in to a particular artist's style, dancing in different musical moods.  Also the beginning sequence with its intense colors foreshadowed the explosion of color in final ballet.   The quiet darker sequences by the river acted as a rest for the eyes, much as quieter passages in a symphony rest the ears for the next bright section.

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This is also one of my favorites. It wasn't until this class that I found out Oscar Levant wasn't a concert pianist. And the ballet segment near the end of the film makes me think that Gene and Leslie were really in love.

Gene Kelly's dancing is always so fluid, powerful, and expressive, that I love watching him. I especially like the ballet segment where he's dressed like the black dancer from the Moulin Rouge. I always drop whatever I'm doing to watch him.

Thank you for bringing up the topic and sharing your insights.

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18 hours ago, AcademeWriter said:

An American in Paris is my favorite musical.  It was placed at the end of the first That's Entertainment movie as MGM's "masterpiece," and well-deserved. The actors, dancers (Gene) singers, and actors were sterling. The production was the culmination of movie musicals in perforamnce, choreography, costume, set design. We know the performers were great, but I wanted to discuss some other creative talent as well, although Gene was "a given," and the best!  

Choreography

The seventeen minute ballet at the end of the film is incredible in its use of ballet, tap, jazz and overall ensemble choreography.  Gene Kelly created a magical Paris, causing the paintings of the famous French artists to come alive (I wonder if this was the origin of the annual Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, CA.) To make art come alive in more ways than one was a feat, only enhanced by Gene Kelly's wonderful interpretation of the music.  I love Gershwin's use of the everyday (car horns) and musical pulses of the city, which Gene Kelly again interpreted so well.

 Costumes

The costume by Vincent Minelli (and I read Irene Sharif?) were straight out of Toulouse Lautrec, Renoir, and other Impressionist painters.  To recreate art with dancers, as posed models of the painting that then come alive was a visual feast. The Furies especially were outstanding, as the ones in red playfully menaced, and the ones in white spun joyfully. The costumes also represented people from all walks of Parisian society - the schoolgirls (similar to Gigi) the French girls who dance around the fountain, alongside the African King who promenades. An Aside: I always like the dancer with the red hat, as she dances round the famous fountain, and envision myself doing that part. : )  The costumes represented not only French society, but also American military men on leave, who don their straw hats and striped suits. It is panacea of costume, and whirling furies that power this ballet of intense color.

Direction / Set

The synchronization of music to choreography to costume change and set design and editing was incredible. As sets revolved, and new sets in new dances appeared, they leapt from one painting to another. The four straw-hatted dancers rise from below to join the schoolgirls, a fabulous entry into the colorful smoke begins a sensual dance, Leslie, at a flower stand does beautiful pointe and disappears into the mist, the jazz dancer in the cafe with Leslie Caron again as Can Can dancer,, representative of the Moulin Rouge... There is a choreography of set movement between and amongst the dancers as well. We end in an ultimate frenzy of whirling characters... to the finale where we end up with the red rose that began the entire artistic fantasy.

One note: In the podcast, Dr. Ament and Gary Rydstrom spoke of the black and white ball - The Beaux Arts Ball, an annual event for art students which was a visual contrast to the hue of the smoke filled set and colorful, whirling fabric. All in all is is a masterpiece, using art.  It is art, recreating art on film (another medium). As I wrote in my own separate article, The Philosophy of The Red Shoes, a ballet film, film is a medium where art can be created, recreated, with life imitating art, imitating life, and all on a two dimensional piece of celluloid. Here, in An American in Paris, we have an ultimate art of embracing existing art, adding living beings to the artistic equation, making painted Parisian wear come alive (period costumes) and move about in another art - dance on film.  Incredible!

A Second Note: I saw the recent Broadway production of Christopher Wheeldon's An American in Paris. Due to copyight/trademark, I am sure, Gene Kelly's choreography was not recreated, some songs were dropped, others were added. Unlike the Broadway revival of On the Town, which was originally a theater show, then filmed, An American in Paris I believe was written originally for the screen; therefore, this was the first attempt to create a triumph on Broadway from the film.

It is interesting that in the Broadway production, Leslie Caron's part of Lise, was played by Leanne Cope, very reminiscent of Leslie Caron. The part of Adam (Oscar Levant's character) was not as comedically gruff, but had a deeper, reflective tone. Robert Fairchild (NYCB) played Jerry. Mulligan. The end ballet was rechoregraphed by Christopher Wheeldon and was excellent, but of course we love the film original as it has imprinted on our psyches so well. A military backstory was added at the beginning for Jerry Mulligan also.

Musical choices were slightly different here as well. There were only five movie Gershwin songs and musical isntrumental  -the musical tone poem (ballet); however, there were various songs used instead on Broadway - all from the Gerwshin songbook - still a win-win situation with Gershwin. The Concerto in F began the theatrical first act (iConcerto - in the film), and the Cuban Overture ended the theatrical first act (not in the film). 

I thought you might like to know some creative choices made for the 2016 Broadway production, which had its previews -where else? Paris! It was interesting to compare the two. 

All in all, An American in Paris - the film is a love song to Paris, and also to all dancers, singers, performers, and viewers.

Thank you, to MGM!

 

 

The next time that I watch An American in Paris (because I know I will see it again!), I would like to use your notes here to sharpen my appreciation of the film. It's hard for me to believe that I could appreciate the film even more, but that is the wonder and beauty of this collaborative course.

Many thanks!

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18 hours ago, AcademeWriter said:

An American in Paris is my favorite musical.  It was placed at the end of the first That's Entertainment movie as MGM's "masterpiece," and well-deserved. The actors, dancers (Gene) singers, and actors were sterling. The production was the culmination of movie musicals in perforamnce, choreography, costume, set design. We know the performers were great, but I wanted to discuss some other creative talent as well, although Gene was "a given," and the best!  

Choreography

The seventeen minute ballet at the end of the film is incredible in its use of ballet, tap, jazz and overall ensemble choreography.  Gene Kelly created a magical Paris, causing the paintings of the famous French artists to come alive (I wonder if this was the origin of the annual Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, CA.) To make art come alive in more ways than one was a feat, only enhanced by Gene Kelly's wonderful interpretation of the music.  I love Gershwin's use of the everyday (car horns) and musical pulses of the city, which Gene Kelly again interpreted so well.

 Costumes

The costume by Vincent Minelli (and I read Irene Sharif?) were straight out of Toulouse Lautrec, Renoir, and other Impressionist painters.  To recreate art with dancers, as posed models of the painting that then come alive was a visual feast. The Furies especially were outstanding, as the ones in red playfully menaced, and the ones in white spun joyfully. The costumes also represented people from all walks of Parisian society - the schoolgirls (similar to Gigi) the French girls who dance around the fountain, alongside the African King who promenades. An Aside: I always like the dancer with the red hat, as she dances round the famous fountain, and envision myself doing that part. : )  The costumes represented not only French society, but also American military men on leave, who don their straw hats and striped suits. It is panacea of costume, and whirling furies that power this ballet of intense color.

Direction / Set

The synchronization of music to choreography to costume change and set design and editing was incredible. As sets revolved, and new sets in new dances appeared, they leapt from one painting to another. The four straw-hatted dancers rise from below to join the schoolgirls, a fabulous entry into the colorful smoke begins a sensual dance, Leslie, at a flower stand does beautiful pointe and disappears into the mist, the jazz dancer in the cafe with Leslie Caron again as Can Can dancer,, representative of the Moulin Rouge... There is a choreography of set movement between and amongst the dancers as well. We end in an ultimate frenzy of whirling characters... to the finale where we end up with the red rose that began the entire artistic fantasy.

One note: In the podcast, Dr. Ament and Gary Rydstrom spoke of the black and white ball - The Beaux Arts Ball, an annual event for art students which was a visual contrast to the hue of the smoke filled set and colorful, whirling fabric. All in all is is a masterpiece, using art.  It is art, recreating art on film (another medium). As I wrote in my own separate article, The Philosophy of The Red Shoes, a ballet film, film is a medium where art can be created, recreated, with life imitating art, imitating life, and all on a two dimensional piece of celluloid. Here, in An American in Paris, we have an ultimate art of embracing existing art, adding living beings to the artistic equation, making painted Parisian wear come alive (period costumes) and move about in another art - dance on film.  Incredible!

A Second Note: I saw the recent Broadway production of Christopher Wheeldon's An American in Paris. Due to copyight/trademark, I am sure, Gene Kelly's choreography was not recreated, some songs were dropped, others were added. Unlike the Broadway revival of On the Town, which was originally a theater show, then filmed, An American in Paris I believe was written originally for the screen; therefore, this was the first attempt to create a triumph on Broadway from the film.

It is interesting that in the Broadway production, Leslie Caron's part of Lise, was played by Leanne Cope, very reminiscent of Leslie Caron. The part of Adam (Oscar Levant's character) was not as comedically gruff, but had a deeper, reflective tone. Robert Fairchild (NYCB) played Jerry. Mulligan. The end ballet was rechoregraphed by Christopher Wheeldon and was excellent, but of course we love the film original as it has imprinted on our psyches so well. A military backstory was added at the beginning for Jerry Mulligan also.

Musical choices were slightly different here as well. There were only five movie Gershwin songs and musical isntrumental  -the musical tone poem (ballet); however, there were various songs used instead on Broadway - all from the Gerwshin songbook - still a win-win situation with Gershwin. The Concerto in F began the theatrical first act (iConcerto - in the film), and the Cuban Overture ended the theatrical first act (not in the film). 

I thought you might like to know some creative choices made for the 2016 Broadway production, which had its previews -where else? Paris! It was interesting to compare the two. 

All in all, An American in Paris - the film is a love song to Paris, and also to all dancers, singers, performers, and viewers.

Thank you, to MGM!

 

 

What a wonderful reflection on the film! Wish the MOOC had extra credit, because you would have gotten it today for this post! 

Best, Prof. Edwards

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