hmv.com presents… The Best Soundtracks of All Time: An American in Paris
An American in Paris
So what’s the film about?
Directed by Vincente Minnelli - father of Liza - and featuring a story written by Alan J. Lerner, An American in Paris is based on a 1928 symphonic poem by composer George Gershwin. The film stars Gene Kelly as Jerry Mulligan, a struggling American painter living in Paris who is having difficulty finding work. His friend Adam, played by Oscar Levant, is having similar troubles as a concert pianist.
Jerry finds himself the subject of romantic attraction by a lonely society woman called Milo Roberts (Nina Foch), who takes a keen interest in Jerry and tries to help him get work. Jerry however, although grateful for the assistance, has his eye on Lise (Leslie Caron), a French girl he meets at party.
To make matters even more complicated, Jerry soon discovers that he and his friend Adam have fallen in love with the same woman.
Is this a score or a soundtrack?
Being based on Gershwin’s idea and with all the music and written by George and Ira Gershwin, it’s kind of a score with songs thrown into the mix, including well-known tunes like ‘I Got Rhythm’ and ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’.
So what’s it like?
Gershwin’s unique style takes inspiration from a spectrum of musical styles ranging from classical and jazz to the more popular sounds of the day such as big band and swing music. From the 1920s onwards he was one of the best-loved composers of the era having penned pieces such as ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, and his jazzy, light-footed aesthetic is all over the score to this film.
What does it give the film?
Teamed with Gene Kelly’s singing and dancing abilities, Gershwin’s mixture of orchestral compositions and jazzy, sing-along show tunes gives the film an uplifting feel that has helped to make An American in Paris a Hollywood classic.
What’s the best moment?
‘I Got Rhythm’ is probably the most iconic moment in the film, although ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ is another moment whose popularity has transcended that of the film, having been recorded many times over by a whole host of artists.
Has it stood the test of time?
An American in Paris has a timeless feel thanks largely to Gershwin’s music and Gene Kelly’s iconic performance, and it’s every bit as enjoyable now as it was on it’s initial release.