Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Gene Kelly at His Best

Summer Classic: Gene Kelly's favorite film,

An American in Paris

What decade in film the 1950s was.
The era's movies exhibited America's newfound post-war affluence and the rise of the middle-class. Crowds reacted positively to Hollywood's introduction of the anti-hero as actors such as James Dean, Paul Newman and Marlon Brando stepped into the spotlight.
But one of the classic film genres, the movie musical, was still thriving and evolving under the care of artists such as Gene Kelly, who led two of his defining films in the early '50s:Singin' in the Rain (1952) and An American in Paris (1951), which is the feature Wednesday in the Kentucky Theatre's Summer Classics Series.
Kelly's brand of zany, eccentric dancing made him the face of movie musicals until the form dissipated in the late '50s.
He starred in, choreographed and produced American in Paris, which he said was his favorite musical of his career.
The plot centers on a trio of American artists living in post-World War II France and the romantic entanglements of Kelly's character, Jerry, who is the object of one woman's affection, though he has fallen for a French woman, unaware she is in a long-term relationship with one of his friends.
When your heart is broken, gotta dance.
The movie is most famous for its 17-minute dance sequence toward the end. In fact, there is no dialogue for the final 20 minutes and 25 seconds of the film. This major achievement in choreography took more than a month to film and allegedly cost about $500,000 to pull off.
Kelly's co-star Leslie Caron made her cinematic debut in the film and Oscar Levant, Nina Foch and Georges Gu├ętary round out the small cast.
In addition to Kelly's work, a major calling card for An American in Paris was the music of George Gershwin including his 1928 orchestral composition of the same name. The film also includes classic Gershwin tunes such as, Embraceable You, S Wonderful and I Got Rhythm.
For theater fans, Wednesday's screenings can be a prelude to Sunday night's Tony Awards, where the stage adaptation of An American in Paris is up for 12 trophies, including best musical.
Kyle Arensdorf: (859) 231-3335. Twitter: @KYleKernel.

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