ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Film Review: An American in Paris

Updated on February 10, 2016
Film Frenzy profile image

Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.


In 1951, Vincente Minelli released An American in Paris, inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary, Nina Foch, and Eugene Borden, the film grossed $6.98 million at the box office. Winning the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Art – Set Decoration, Color, Best Cinematography, Color, Best Costume Design, Color, Best Musical Score, and Best Writing, Scoring and Screenplay, it also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Film Editing as well as the Golden Globe Awards for Best Director and Best Actor- Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.


Expatriate Jerry Milligan attempts to scrape by living as an artist in Paris’ Left Bank. However, he falls in love with a woman named Lise who loves successful musician Henri. The only problem is that the two are friends.


Being the second color film that received the award for Best Picture, An American in Paris, while decent, does quite a bit with its colorful display. While the film wasn’t the first picture in color to win Best Picture, an honor going to Gone with the Wind a decade prior, this film does use its painted hue to its advantage, both for a clever segment that leads into the visual explosion near the end. Said segment, which is also a notable display of symbolism, happens at the fancy ball that leads into Adam’s fantasy. While it seems that not one person there managed to wear a colorful costume, it provides good a monochromatic contrast to the fantasy world that is teeming with nonstop colorful visuals.

However, while the moment that scene leads into is nothing but colorful, it’s also a very bizarre dream fantasy, even given the name the “American in Paris Ballet Scene.” Seemingly, Milligan lost Lise to Henri and is facing an emotional crisis. At the party, he leans over the balcony and the scene becomes an elaborate mostly silent dance sequence. While the scene works to summarize the film’s events and Milligan’s feelings, it pretty much stops the film cold and throws all these colors and visual effects at the audience while removing most of the dialogue. Notably is when he keeps running after Lise and she always slips away and at one point, he wraps her in his arms, but she turns into flowers. There’s also a point where two pieces of paper with a sketch of the Arc de Triomphe land next to each other, seemingly like they’ve always been one piece, and dissolving to show Milligan in a realm resembling a series of French paintings.

But that’s just one bizarre sequence in the film. Another is Adam’s fantasy that starts with him staring off into space and suddenly cutting to a grand concert hall where he’s the conductor, band and audience. Interestingly, it’s a five minute scene that’s never mentioned in the film after it’s over, seemingly as if it were merely for padding and the inclusion of another Gershwin piece.

Though, apart from all that, the film solidly paints itself on the realistic end of the spectrum, especially in how it represents how much in love Henri is with Lise. There’s a scene where he’s talking with Adam and describing Lise. However, he’s constantly changing his mind about what he wants to say and what he loves about her and every time he does so, the music, environment, Lise’s costume and her style of dancing changes to reflect his emotional viewpoint. It’s an interesting way of showing how befuddled a man’s mind can be when he’s talking about a person he’s infatuated with as they keep wanting to talk about which facet of their personality they love the most. What's more is that it's also incredibly clever in that it practically acknowledges the existence of the fourth wall without really mentioning said wall or directly recognizing and addressing the audience.

3 stars for An American in Paris

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)