1951: 1 movie

(Last updated 24 May 2014)

An American in Paris
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Written by Alan Jay Lerner
Produced by Arthur Freed
Choreography by Gene Kelly
Music direction by Saul Chaplin and Johnny Green
Orchestrator by Conrad Salinger
Cinematography by Alfred Gilks
Editing by Adrienne Fazan 
Art direction by E. Preston Ames and Cedric Gibbons 
Set decor by Edwin B. Willis
Costume design by Orry-Kelly
Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron,
and Oscar Levant

   Dreams and dancing have been consistent themes throughout the history of cinema, but interestingly the combination of the two themes has also been prevalent since at least Melies' "Le cauchemar" (1896), continuing with Chaplin and other silent-movie directors. This can be explained as being the frontiers of movie-making. Substance-wise, dreams seem to be one of the most challenging phenomena a movie can communicate, and style-wise dancing seems to be one of the most entertaining human activities that that cameras can capture, especially in a silent movie, when broad gestures were especially necessary. Interestingly, in the 1930s, when soundtracks became the norm, the dream/dance thematic combo was not as common, at least in high calibre movies, until it found new life in the 1940s when Maya Deren's began making her series of silent movies. In the late forties, Powell and Pressburger took the baton, bringing dancing and dreams back to the screen with glorious color, musical scores, and plenty of witty dialogue. And from the late forties to this year, it was Vincente Minnelli who stole the spotlight adding singing to the mix with "The Pirate" (1948), and this joyous movie.
   Even though the movie is more than 60 years old, there is a sense in this movie that it is offering us the ultimate and greatest value that cinema can offer. Every shot, every frame is a delicate feast for the senses. Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron are mesmerizing, and Oscar Levant offers brilliant music and comedic counterpoint. As lively as the entire movie is, what pushes it over the top is the lengthy closing dance-symphony with its drunken camera dancing as beautifully as the actors. This has been and will continue to be a tough movie to reckon with for any movie-maker seeking to break new ground.

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