CABARET CINEMA: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (Vincente Minnelli, 1954)
Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th St. at Seventh Ave.
Friday, December 21, free with $7 bar minimum, 9:30
To borrow a phrase from the Gershwins, Vincente Minnelli’s An American in Paris “’s wonderful, ’s marvelous.” In the 1951 MGM musical, which won six Academy Awards — including Best Picture, Best Color Cinematography, and Best Musical Score — it’s love at first sight for ex-pat artist Jerry Mulligan (a delightful Gene Kelly) upon seeing squirrely parfumerie girl Lise Bouvier (ballerina Leslie Caron, making her film debut after having been discovered by Kelly dancing with Les Ballets de Paris de Roland Petit). While Mulligan pursues Lise, he is pursued by wealthy socialite Milo Roberts (Nina Foch), who lures him in by buying one of his paintings and promising him a show. Complicating matters is French singer Henri Baurel (Georges Guétary), who has taken Lise under his wing. An American in Paris is a charmer from start to finish, with Kelly leading the way singing in the streets, tapping atop a piano, and romancing Caron on cheesy Hollywood sets doubling for the City of Lights. The fanciful film features a classic collection of songs by George and Ira Gershwin, including “Embraceable You,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “I Got Rhythm,” “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” and “’S Wonderful,” all choreographed by Kelly, who won an honorary Oscar in 1952 for “his versatility as an actor, singer, director, and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.” Adding to the fun is Oscar Levant as Jerry’s irritable neighbor Adam Cook, a cynical concert pianist who gets a terrific dream sequence in which he plays an entire orchestra by himself. The film culminates in the dazzling sixteen-minute “An American in Paris Ballet,” a glorious Technicolor production number shot by cinematographer John Alton. An American in Paris is screening December 21 as part of the Rubin Museum Cabaret Cinema series “Happiness is . . .,” held in conjunction with the larger Rubin Museum program “Happy Talk.” “I’m glad somebody around here’s happy,” Jerry says to Henri at one point. There should be some very happy people indeed at the Rubin on December 21.