My 14-year-old self loooooved musicals. Like, sing-into-my-hairbrush, audition-for-everything loved.
RENT? I saw it live.
I had big ol’ roles in my high school’s productions of The Wizard of Oz and The Secret Garden and recreated that fork-as-a-comb scene from The Little Mermaid, oh, always.
But as I got older – and a bit more cynical – all that singing and dancing lost a tiny bit of its luster. I was annoyed by songs that didn’t seem to fit into the plot and I was fairly sure gang turf wars weren’t solved by dance offs. I still loved Pitch Perfect and Empire … but not quite as much as I would have circa 1997.
So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I checked out An American In Paris from my library. Would I be able to suspend my So Adult disbelief and eye rolls and just enjoy the costumes and dancing and fluttering eyelashes?
An American In Paris centers on Jerry Mulligan, an ex-GI who has stayed in Paris post-war to paint. He and his French friend Henri inadvertently fall for the same perfume store clerk, a shockingly young woman name Lise. Add to this a rich, ‘older woman’ who wants to ‘sponsor’ Jerry’s work and hijinks, obviously, ensue.
Some commentary, in bullet point form:
* Gene Kelly dances with such joy I’m convinced he’d be tappity tapping around flower markets with little French children even if he weren’t a famous movie star. It was all I could do not to google ‘adult tap classes’ ten minutes into watching this.* Gene Kelly was only 5’7″! His ‘older woman sponsor’ was played by Nina Foch – who was 5’9″ … daring casting for the day, no?* Women of the 1950s: HOW U GET UR WAIST SO SMALL? Really and truly, how did you do that? I mean, it’s unlikely that I’d actually do
whatever you did because I like my comfy, stretchy yoga pants, but I’m just saying: I’m impressed.
* Let’s take a moment to roll our eyes and make gagging noises that the age difference between the male characters and the female character they’re both pursuing is 19 years. Gross, guys.
* The tiny houses we currently love don’t have a thing on Jerry’s studio apartment. Note to self: sleep on a cot that’s on pulleys.
* Henri is supposedly an ‘aging cabaret singer’ but the actor was actually three years younger than Gene Kelly. Enter: distinguished graying at the temples.
How do I know all this? Because my friends and I googled it between brie and nut pate. Apparently I can’t completely lose myself in musicals anymore.
How do you feel about musicals? Did you love them – do you still? What are your favorites?
P.S. Other well-known movies I watched for the first time: Casablanca (pretty good) and The Godfather (really good!)
photos by fanpop // classic hollywood central // the red list // daley screening