Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

An American in Paris (1951)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

An American In Paris (1951)

In Vincente Minnelli's and MGM's great 50s screen musical and a Best Picture-winner that was colorfully enhanced by the grace and athleticism of Gene Kelly, with sumptuous sets, charming dance sequences, George and Ira Gershwin's memorable melodies, and a seventeen-minute, avant-garde ballet choreographed by Kelly:

  • the opening voice-over introduced the film's main character and why he had settled in Paris as a painter: "This is Paris. And I'm an American who lives here. My name, Jerry Mulligan, and I'm an ex-GI. In 1945, when the Army told me to find my own job, I stayed on. And I'll tell you why. I'm a painter. All my life that's all I've ever wanted to do. And 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 artists have come here and called it home. Brother, if you can't paint in Paris, you'd better give up and marry the boss' daughter..."
  • waifish pretty French perfume-shop clerk Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron) performed the song "Embraceable You" - with five colorful facets of her personality appearing in this order through dance montages: (1: "an exciting girl" 2: "she's sweet and shy" 3: "she's adventurous and modern" 4: "she reads incessantly" 5: "she's the gayest girl in the world")
  • American expatriate and ex-GI Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly), who had decided to study to be a painter in Paris, performed a song/dance to the neighborhood street children: "I Got Rhythm"
  • Jerry also shared a romantic song/dance with Lise on the quay next to the bank of the Seine River to "Our Love is Here to Stay"
  • successful vaudeville star and music-hall entertainer Henri Baurel (French music hall star Georges Guetary) performed an elaborate and lush Folies Bergere-like rendition of "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" with lavish-costumed chorus girls
  • Jerry's good friend - aspiring American concert pianist Adam Cook (Oscar Levant), who was also studying abroad, experienced a dream sequence in which he conducted and performed Gershwin's "Piano Concerto in F" with members of the orchestra
  • Jerry performed "S'Wonderful" - a song/dance with Henri in the Latin Quarter, not knowing that they were both in love with the same female
  • Jerry said a final goodbye to 19 year old girlfriend Lise Bouvier before she departed to marry successful music-hall star entertainer Henri Baurel, because of the protection from the Nazis he had offered her for five years during the Resistance; Jerry told Lise: "Now what have I got left? Paris. Maybe that's enough for some, but it isn't for me anymore. Because the more beautiful everything is, the more it'll hurt without you"
Final Goodbye Scene
  • the film's most extravagant number was the closing audacious 13-minute symphonic "American in Paris" ballet with lavish, colorful and impressionistic backdrops, fountains and artistic settings based on the works of famous and celebrated French painters (Dufy, Utrillo, Renoir, Van Gogh, Rousseau, and Toulouse-Lautrec); Jerry pursued Lise through the continually-changing backdrop of Paris; it began with Jerry in front of a black and white backdrop picking up a red rose dropped by Lise; the next sequence was in a Madeleine flower market where Jerry danced with GIs and gendarmes, and also with straw-hatted hoofers; then came a passionate emotional, mating dance (during a smoky night) between Jerry and Lise around a fountain in the Place de la Concorde followed by a Moulin Rouge-styled jazzy dance in a cafe
  • the number ended with everything suddenly vanishing and the crowd disappearing; Jerry found himself alone with his red rose in front of the black and white sketch backdrop in a deserted Paris - with a zoom closeup of the red rose in his hand; the rose dissolved into his lovelorn, romantically desolate face
The Extravagant "American in Paris" Finale Ballet
  • in the concluding happy reconciliation - from a balcony, Jerry saw Lise giving Henri a short, grateful farewell kiss after which Henri released her from her engagement and stepped aside when he discovered that she cared for someone else; Lise ran up a long flight of stairs into Jerry's arms, ecstatically reunited in a loving embrace; the camera panned upwards to a twinkling Paris skyline

Introducing Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly)

"Embraceable You"

"I Got Rhythm"

"Our Love Is Here to Stay"

"I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise"

"Piano Concerto in F"


Concluding Reconciliation Between Jerry and Lise


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