American in Paris" on DVD
MGM's 1951 classic
is a great vehicle for Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron - and the music of George
and Ira Gershwin. As a DVD, it has times (most of the time, in fact) when
it looks positively glorious and other times (admittedly much fewer, fortunately)
when it's more than a tad washed out.
Since most of the
MGM discs we've seen have excellent quality control, this may be due to
the age and condition of the source material - and anyway, it isn't nearly
enough to spoil one's enjoyment of this six Oscar-winning treat. And on
the whole, this fullscreen (it was made before widescreen movies were
introduced) Technicolor feature is a great DVD.
Gene Kelly is Jerry
Mulligan, aspiring painter whose career gets an unexpected boost when
he's taken under the wing of an "art patron" played by Nina
Foch. A love triangle is formed when Kelly becomes smitten by the lovely
Lise (Leslie Caron, in her film debut), who's engaged to a famous French
singing star - who's also a close friend of Kelly's close friend (played
by the multi-talented Oscar Levant).
The musical numbers
are great, especially Levant's "one-person" symphony fantasy
and the stunningly filmed and choreographed An American in Paris ballet.
The latter sequence, a lush and innovative production number choreographed
(as was everything else in the movie) by Kelly, is worth the price of
The storyline (written
by Alan Jay Lerner, of "My Fair
Lady" fame) is okay, though it appears to be strung together
as an excuse for singing and dancing - and that's okay in this instance.
Strangely enough, one of the movie's Academy Awards was for writing, so
maybe it was a slow year for screenplays...
Audio quality is as
one might expect from a 1951 movie, and (next to the plot) is probably
the film's weakest part. That's unfortunate in a musical, but what can
you do? The sound is in Dolby Digital mono but, unfortunately, your AC-3
decoder will only direct the audio to the front left and right channels;
some AC-3 mono films send the audio to the front center speaker, which
places the sound at the screen (where it should be). That would have been
better, but it's a pretty minor criticism.
There aren't a lot
of extras with "An American in Paris," but what you get is very
good. Specifically, the liner notes come in the form of an eight page
booklet that details the genesis of the film. It's a very interesting
read - and the last page includes a listing of the disc's chapters. On
the disc, you get chapter access, the theatrical trailer, and the usual
If you're a fan of
American movie musicals at their best, this is one movie you won't want
An American in Paris,
from MGM Home Video
114 minutes, fullscreen, Dolby Digital mono
starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary, Nina
Written by Alan Jay Lerner, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin, Produced by Arthur
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