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Complete cast and technical credits (including songs and dance numbers), plus reviews, essential background information and release details are provided for 120 Hollywood musicals.
The musicals detailed in this large-format book of 260 pages, range from best-loved movies like "An American in Paris", "The Great Caruso" and "South Pacific"; through personal favorites like "The Band Wagon", "Calamity Jane", "Deep In My Heart", "The Emperor Waltz", "Footlight Parade", "Fra Diavolo", "Hollywood Hotel", "Lillian Russell", "Make Mine Music", "One Night With You", "Roman Scandals", "Rose Marie", "State Fair", "Whoopee!" and "You Can't Have Everything"; to cult classics such as "Animal Crackers", "Birth of the Blues", "Carefree", "Dancing Lady", "Destry Rides Again", "Diplomaniacs", "Down to Earth", "Falling for You", "Girl Crazy", "Heat Wave", "Hollywood Party", "The Inspector General", "Kid from Brooklyn", "King Arthur Was a Gentleman", "King Creole", "Melody for Two", "No Limit", "Panama Hattie", "Road to Singapore", "Sabrina" and "That's Entertainment",
The distributor has changed the cover for the NOOK edition and some of the other ebooks, but it's still the same book inside,
"An American in Paris":
Gene Kelly (Gerry Mulligan), Leslie Caron (Lise Bourvier), Oscar Levant (Adam Cook), Georges Guetary (Henri Borel), Nina Foch (Milo Roberts), Eugene Borden (Georges Mattieu), Martha Bamattre (Mathilde Mattieu), Mary Young (old woman dancer), Ann Codee (Therese), George Davis (Francois), Hayden Rorke (Tommy Baldwin), Paul Maxey (John McDowd), Dick Wessel (Ben Macrow), Don Quinn and Adele Coray (honeymoon couple), Lucian Planzoles, Christian Pasques and Anthony Mazola (boys with bubble gum), Jeanne Lafayette, Louise Laureau (nuns), Alfred Paix (postman), Noel Neill (American girl), Nan Boardman (maid), John Eldredge (Jack Jansen), Anna Q. Nilsson (Kay Jansen), Madge Blake (Edna Mae Bestram — customer), Art Dupuis (driver), Greg McClure (artist), André Charisse (dancing partner), Marie Antoinette Andrews (news vendor), Dudley Field Malone (Winston Churchill), Jean Romaine, Mary Jane French, Pat Dean Smith, Joan Barton, Ann Robin, Mary Ellen Gleason, Judy Landon, Beverly Thompson, Beverly Baldy, Angela Wilson, Sue Casey, Ann Brendon, Marietta Elliott, Lorraine Crawford, Lola Kenricks, Meredith Leeds, Marily Rogers, Pat Hall, Madge Journery Marlene Todd (“Stairway” girls), Mary Menzies, Svetlana McLee, Florence Brundage, Dee Turnell (furies), Harriet Scott, Janet Lavis, Sheila Myers, Lila Zali, Betty Scott, Eileen Locklin, Pat Sims, Linda Scott, Shirley Lopez, Shirley Glickman, Phyllis Sutter (place de la Concorde ensemble), Dick Lenner, Don Hulbert, John Stanley, Eugene Fuccati, Ray Weamer, Harvey Karels, Bert Madrid, Dick Landry, Rudy Silva, Rodney Beiber, Manuel Petroff, Robert Ames, Betty Hannon, Linda Heller, David Kasday, Marion Horosko, Pamela Wells, Dorothy Tuttle, Tommy Ladd, Albert Ruiz, Alex Goudovitch, Eric Freeman, Dick Humphries, Alan Cooke, John Gardner, Ricky Gonzales, Bill Chatham, Ernie Flatt, Ricky Riccardi, Graham Johnson, (firemen), Ernie Flatt, Alex Romero, Dick Humphries, Bill Chatham (four servicemen in Rousseau Place), Betty Scott, Shirley Lopez, Pat Sims, Dee Turnell, Sheila Myers, Janet Lavis (can-can dancers), Eleaner Vindever (Gaulou), Dick Lenner (Toulouse-Lautrec), Gino Corrado (Oscar Wilde), Alba No Valero (Aristide Briand).
Directed by VINCENTE MINNELLI from an original story and screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner based upon an idea by Arthur Freed. Photographed in Technicolor by Alfred Gilks. Ballet photographed by John Alton. Choreography: Gene Kelly. Music composed by George Gershwin, orchestrated by Conrad Salinger, and directed by Johnny Green and Saul Chaplin. Song lyrics: Ira Gershwin. Art directors: Cedric Gibbons and Preston Ames. Set decorators: Edwin B. Willis and Keogh Gleason. Ballet costumes designed by Irene Sharaff. Beaux Arts Ball costumes designed by Walter Plunkett. All other costumes designed by Orry-Kelly. Film editor: Adrienne Fazan. Technicolor color consultants: Henri Jaffa and James Gooch. Gene Kelly's paintings by Gene Grant. Special photographic effects: Warren Newcombe and Irving G. Ries. Montage sequences: Peter Ballbusch. Make-up created by William Tuttle. Hair styles designed by Sydney Guilaroff. Songs and production numbers: “An American In Paris” (ballet) featuring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron; “Concerto in F” (instrumental) featuring Oscar Levant; “Our Love Is Here to Stay” featuring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron; “I Got Rhythm” featuring Gene Kelly and children; “Embraceable You” featuring Leslie Caron; “’SWonderful” featuring Gene Kelly and Georges Guetary; “By Strauss” featuring Gene Kelly, Georges Guetary and Oscar Levant; “I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise” featuring Georges Guetary; “Tra-la-la” featuring Gene Kelly and Oscar Levant, “Nice Work If You Can Get It”. Lyrics for “I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise” by E. Ray Goetz and B. G. DeSylva. Sound recording supervisor: Douglas Shearer. Sound mixer: Bill Steinkamp. Music co-ordinator: Lela Simone. 2nd unit director: Peter Ballbusch. 2nd unit photography: Geoffrey Faithfull. Mr Kelly's assistant: Carol Haney. Additional art directors: Jack Martin Smith (the beaux arts ball), Irene Sharaff (the ballet). Technical advisor: Alan Antik. Assistant to the director: Jane Loring. Chief set painter: George Gibson. Chief sculptor: Henry Greutart. Western Electric Sound System. Producer: Arthur Freed.
Copyright 5 September 1951 by Loew's Inc. A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picture. New York opening at the Radio City Music Hall: 4 October 1951 (ran 7 weeks). U.S. release: 9 November 1951. U.K. release: 24 December 1951. Australian release: 2 April 1952. 10,204 feet. 113 minutes.
SYNOPSIS: American painter in Paris falls for a young woman.
NOTES: M-G-M production number: 1501.
Negative cost: $2,723,903.
Total worldwide rentals gross to 1975: $8,050,000.
Initial domestic rentals gross: $4 million, which gave it the number 5 position at the U.S./Canadian box-office for 1952.
The movie took good money but did not make the top lists of box-office attractions overseas. The title itself of course was a liability so far as non-American audiences were concerned.
First and only Hollywood film of Georges Guetary.
Number 3 on the National Board of Review’s American “Ten Best” list.
Also number 3 in The Film Daily’s poll of American film critics for 1951.
In addition to the Special Awards to Arthur Freed and Gene Kelly, the film won prestigious Hollywood awards for Best Picture [defeating Decision before Dawn, A Place in the Sun, Quo Vadis, A Streetcar Named Desire], Best Story and Screenplay [defeating The Big Carnival, David and Bathsheba, Go for Broke, The Well], Color Cinematography [defeating David and Bathsheba, Quo Vadis, Show Boat, When Worlds Collide], Color Art Direction [defeating David and Bathsheba, On the Riviera, Quo Vadis, Tales of Hoffmann], Best Scoring of a Musical Picture [defeating Alice in Wonderland, The Great Caruso, On the Riviera, Show Boat], Best Color Costume Design won jointly by Orry-Kelly, Plunkett and Sharaff [defeating David and Bathsheba, The Great Caruso, Quo Vadis, Tales of Hoffmann].
The film was also nominated for Best Directing [won by George Stevens for A Place in the Sun], and Film editing [won by William Hornbeck for A Place in the Sun].
When the film was being edited for release, some musical numbers were deleted and minor cuts were made to tighten the picture. Kelly was sorry to see his favorite number eliminated. “I’ve Got a Crush on You” was a solo number to which he had given particular thought and attention. “Love Walked In” and “But Not for Me,” both Guetary solos, were also taken out of the film. The former held up the tempo in the early part of the picture and the latter didn’t play in the surrounding whirl of the Beaux Arts ball. At the ball some trims were made, especially in view of the long ballet that followed.
Shooting commenced 1 August 1950 and wrapped up on 8 January 1951, with one day of re-takes on 2 April 1951.
Whilst Kelly was rehearsing the final ballet, Minnelli directed a sequel to his Father of the Bride. On 6 December when Minnelli came back to shoot the ballet, he brought with him John Alton, his cameraman on Father's Little Dividend. "I regretted that I hadn't had him for the whole film," says Minnelli. "I think he is one of the greatest cameramen that I have ever worked with. Alton is very flexible; he doesn't have a set mind like Gilks had, and he is capable of modifying his way according to the director’s indications."
This was Alton's first Technicolor assignment. But even so, he had very definite ideas as to how to bring about certain color effects. "The secret of the ballet's photography," he says, "was the fumata (smoky) quality, which changed all the colors to pastel. In the ballet we used English color quality for the first time. I was inspired, like everybody else on the picture, by the electrical force Gershwin's music generated. In my case this showed itself in the way I used light... We all worked like a team. Every morning we would rush to the studio, eager to do something, even ahead of time. We were just like kids going to the candy store. That's how excited we were...."
Many of Alton’s colleagues believed that no-one could have shot the ballet the way he did: shooting directly into a light, or using less than the minimum light deemed necessary for a good negative. And others considered him to be "a very arrogant man."
There was also a row with the electricians. "They tried everything to stop his cutting down on lights," says Keogh Gleason. "Alton could light properly and quickly. But the laboratories would say 'It’s no good,' because it was cutting down on the procedures. John also said he didn't need any catwalks. That really blew the top off. Of some sixty lights, Alton would use only three or four, which cut down tremendously on labor. It's a wonder he didn't have a light dropped on him . . ."
The ballet begins as Kelly sits by himself on a balcony at the Beaux Arts Ball, ignoring the revelry inside, and looks out over the vast scene of Paris at night. His thoughts and his associations with the city and its painters materialize for the audience. Throughout the ballet he continually sees and courts and loses the girl, moving through familiar Parisian locations, all in the style of the painters who have influenced him. The Place de la Concorde swirls with people in a background suggestive of Dufy; he spots the girl and pursues her — through the Renoir-like streets around the Madeleine flower market — through a gaudy fairground as Utrillo might have seen it — through the holiday throngs at the Jardins des Plantes, a favorite subject of Rousseau — and to the Place de L’Opéra, reflecting the art of Van Gogh, and finally to the Montmarte of Toulouse-Lautrec.
VIEWERS' GUIDE: Okay for all.
COMMENT: Because of a dispute between M-G-M and the newspaper I worked for over an unfavorable review (I forget what the movie was), I was not permitted to cover this film at the time of its release, so it was some twenty years before I saw it. All the same, I remember very distinctly how disappointed I felt when I missed the movie in 1952 and yet how I wondered what all the shouting had been about in 1972. For the film had captured no less than eight of 1951's prestigious Hollywood awards: Best Picture, Best Story and Screenplay, Best Color Photography, Best Color Art Direction, Best Color Set Decoration, Best Color Costume Design, Best Score for a Musical Picture, and a Special Honorary Award for Gene Kelly "in appreciation of his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film".
Admittedly, the movie was handicapped for me by the presence of Gene Kelly himself. I concede that he is a brilliant (if extremely flashy) choreographer, an amazingly adroit dancer and a fairly imaginative director, but as a singer he is weak and as an actor he often displays many of the least likable aspects of the American character: his brash, aggressive manner, his supreme self-confidence, his boastfulness and perhaps above all, his ingrained belief that the world owes him deference simply because he is an American. Unfortunately, these traits are in great evidence in An American In Paris.
Lacking sympathy for the central character, it is easy to see why the film failed to fully engage my attention back in 1972. I was not happy with the supporting characters either. As a singer, Georges Guetary belongs to the florid school, and as a personality, I do not remember him at all. And I much preferred glamorous Nina Foch (who is supposed to be the unsympathetic character) to gamin Leslie Caron (who is supposed to be the heroine). Oscar Levant is his usual amusing screen self.
The plot is slight and all-too-familiar but some of the songs are very catchy. On the other hand, I have never cared for the music of "An American in Paris," which seems to me strident, forced, lacking in harmony and melody.
What impressed me most about the film in 1972 was its glittering color photography, its sumptuous sets and its dazzling costumes. I have no doubt that An American In Paris deserved the awards it won in these departments.
OTHER VIEWS: We selected each artist’s tone and felt for similar tone in the passages of the Gershwin score. For example, that one brassy section could have meant nothing else to us but Lautrec’s “Chocolat” and we all agreed immediately that the “Walking Theme” was most potently related to the lightly sketched style of Raoul Dufy. Our chief trouble was with the Rousseau, which being simply primitive, seemed even more so against the score. But we felt that to omit him would be a kind of misrepresentation, so we made the American tap-dance his way through a 4th of July celebration in Cohanesque manner, against the theme of the music, while Parisian revelry spins itself out around his figure.
— Gene Kelly in “Dance Magazine”.
The peak achievement of the American musical film of the ’fifties and one of the most stunningly well-made and charming films of all time. This film, along with Everybody’s Cheering and On The Town, shows the talents of Gene Kelly as the greatest star/choreographer the cinema has produced. Here he plays Gerry Mulligan, a penniless artist living (naturally) in a garret in Paris surrounded by lovable eccentrics, chief among whom is the downstairs piano-player Oscar Levant at his most acid. Levant has a friend — Ivor Novello leading man Georges Guetary — Henri Borel, the toast (naturally) of the Paris night spots. He is about to marry his ward, Lise, who equally naturally falls for Kelly/Mulligan despite competition from the glamorous heiress with the big car who keeps after him.
This plot is merely a coat-hanger (though a very skilful one) on which to hang the production. Color, design, the M-G-M backlot settings which make an acceptable Paris (even for Parisians), and the Gershwin music are all as significant in forming the film as its script and dialogue (by one of the authors of My Fair Lady and Gigi—this film incidentally is one of the few movies of the cycle to have only one writer credit). The plot itself disappears completely in the magnificent, two-reel ballet at the climax.
In An American In Paris Minnelli has struck the perfect balance between the folksy charm of his early Under the Clock and Meet Me In St Louis and the striking color effects of less successful, later, straight films like Two Weeks In Another Town or Some Came Running. Like The Pirate and The Band Wagon, this film shows him as one of the great entertainers and one always wishes the formula could work again on other items like Bells Are Ringing and Goodbye Charlie.
Scene after scene is full of beautiful touches:— Caron in the cafe keeping a solemn face as Kelly clowns, the girl behind her bursting out with laughter at something completely different, Levant mixing cigarettes and coffee as the horrible truth dawns; the Black and White Ball which is just that — in a color film; that last barbed interchange between Levant and Nina Foch; and Kelly’s quite moving farewell, "The more beautiful it all is, the more it will hurt because you’re not here to share it!" — a line which really means something in a film as beautiful as this.
The photographic style is remarkable. The decor is improved by the use of transparencies — back-projected stills which, because they don’t move, don’t have to be restricted to 35 mm film, the larger plates giving much sharper detail and less grainy color saturation. The main film was shot by Alfred Gilks, a veteran cameraman whose work on the Sam Wood-Jackie Coogan Peck’s Bad Boy marked him as a superior craftsman as early as 1921. The dream sequence with its typical Minnellian use of colored light is credited to photographer John Alton who had never previously worked in color and whose award proved one of the most controversial to be given.
[Editor’s note: Failure of the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences to acknowledge the often major contributions to color cinematography of color consultants, especially from the Technicolor company, had been a sore point for some time, but in 1952 the issue was pursued rather vigorously in some quarters, partly because of Alton's lack of personal popularity among his fellow cinematographers.]
Each of the numbers requires comment. No other musical contains so many that are excellent. The formula of having Guetary sing while Kelly dances sustains the By Strauss and Love numbers perfectly. Kelly repeats his Living in a Big Way building site item as I Got Rhythm in the same mood, and his duet with Caron on the bank of the Seine as Our Love Is Here to Stay really does carry the plot as no words alone could. Her introduction in the multi-divided color image — she was just 20 at the time — is done to Levant’s Tra-la-la and the Gershwin number where he imagines himself playing all instruments before unwrapping the Coke in the champagne pot, are as good. Guetary’s Stairway to Paradise, however, belongs to another tradition of musical. The ballet itself with its rose motif, swirling colored smoke, solid fountains and enormous revolving mirrors is an achievement in itself and rumor has it that it was only inserted due to Nina Foch’s illness.
This film is the absolute triumph of form and craftsmanship in the cinema. It is difficult to imagine it being improved or surpassed. Rating: 100%.
— Barrie Pattison.
OTHER REFERENCES: The Musical Film by Douglas McVay (Zwemmer, London/Barnes, New York, 1967); Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance by John Kobal (Hamlyn, London/New York, 1970); The World of Entertainment by Hugh Fordin (Doubleday, New York, 1975); The Films of Gene Kelly by Tony Thomas (Citadel, Secaucus, 1974); Directed by Vincente Minnelli by Stephen Harvey (Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1989); The Magic Factory by Donald Knox (1973); The Best of M-G-M by James Robert Parish and Gregory Mank (Arlington House, Westport, 1981).