An American in Paris (1951): A Paris Collage

Perfume-seller Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron) and artist Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly) see each other for the first time in a bustling cafe in Montparnasse. As I watch them meet, separate, repeat in locations around Paris, I forget that An American in Paris (1951) was filmed on the California sound stages and backlots of MGM. The film sets overload my senses. In addition to the talent, there are many props, movable and stationary, to observe. In the opening scene, my eyes hurry to survey the contents of Jerry’s compact studio apartment. Is his marini√®re Saint James? What books are those? What type of bread does Jerry eat for breakfast?

This theatrical version of Paris is overly grand, a tad too shiny, too dreamy. Some of the dance scenes are dreams. But, perhaps this is what encourages my thoughts to wander. As a viewer, I am reminded that:

  • artists must create art often; otherwise, they are not truly living
  • every woman has a unique combination of qualities
  • flowers are essential for the table
  • lavender has a calming effect
  • clothing for children was tasteful once upon a time
  • there’s nothing like a good party
  • there’s nothing like a good party dress
  • sherry is for sharing
  • the neighborhood cafe should be visited often 
  • perfume is and isn’t a luxury
  • a white dress paired with black shoes is an eye-catching combination
  • I find vintage posters (and antiques in general) charming
  • a view of the Eiffel Tower never gets old
  • pointe shoes in skin-tone-inclusive shades are a recent invention 
  • choreography is exercise; note to self: consult YouTube for routines

Works Sighted

Breton shirt // lavender // artist palette // paintbrushes // coupe cocktail glasses

silk scarf // gum // children’s coat // sherry // cup and saucer // baguette // dress (ivory)

painting // Champagne Dehu traditional brut // perfume bottle // ballet flats // ice bucket // dress (black) // pointe shoes

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