Riddle me this: What does an American do in Paris? He ruins it for everyone else. I’ve witnessed it in my travels as well as in this film.
Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly) is an ex GI who decided to stay in Paris and live out his dream by becoming a painter. He has an obvious love for the city. One day he gathers up his paintings, trying to sell them on the street in order to pay the bills. A heiress and fellow American, Milo (Nina Foch), offers him fifteen thousand francs a piece. That’s much more than Jerry ever thought his work would be worth. Milo genuinely likes his work and might be fishing for a date. With her influence and money, she wants to make Jerry a successful artist.
When Milo dupes Jerry into a date, he couldn’t really care less, especially when he catches the eye of beautiful Lise (Leslie Caron). He pursues her, unaware that his friend Henri (Georges Guétary) is already dating her. But that’s what we expect an American to do in Paris; steal your girl when you’re not around.
Oh my, did I forget to mention this is a musical? It is, filled with Kelly’s dance moves and songs about everything. There’s even a song with French children all around Kelly as he sings a way to teach them English. But I just didn’t enjoy the songs and that dance scene at the end was way too long for what little action was left to happen. I felt that Kelly was just practicing for his greatest act around the corner: Singin’ in the Rain.
The great redeeming quality for this film is the character Adam (Oscar Levant) a struggling pianist and neighbor to Jerry. Without Adam being the other side of the coin to Jerry, I don’t think I would have approved of half the musical numbers. My favorite scene his Adam’s daydream when he becomes an entire orchestra. Without a word being said, that scene says more about dear Adam than the entire flapity-jaws-singing film.
The problem is, Jerry is the main character, but I did not like him. He leads Milo on to further his painting career, which he’s not sure if he’s ready (or willing) to be serious about, while he’s pursuing Lise, who doesn’t have much personality unless she’s dancing.
I agree that the sets are beautiful and I understand that many people love this film and sing along with all the songs, but I just didn’t feel it. The more into the film I got, I started to remember an American tourist I saw while visiting the Louvre in Paris. The beer gut gave him away before he opened his mouth and twanged, “We already saw Mona Lisa, can we just skip these paintings and find lunch?” Americans just come to Paris to half-ass being a painter, steal your hot dancer girl and see nothing but The Mona Lisa in the entire Louvre. Singin’ in the Rain is much more enjoyable.