An American In Paris


Was this the Chicago of its day? Well, it snaffled an armload of Oscars - perhaps mystifyingly - and went on to book a reputation as one of MGM's greatest musicals.

With Gene Kelly in the starring role, it's a given that things are going to get frisky, and if Alan Jay Lerner's gong for Best Writing seems an odd call, it makes up for in fun what it lacks in coherence. Unlike Singin' In The Rain (made the next year), it's pure cornball. Kelly plays struggling painter Jerry Mulligan, living in Paris with his droll, wonderfully sad-faced buddy Adam (Oscar Levant). There, in the City Of Love, Kelly falls for a French girl (Leslie Caron), but she's engaged to a cabaret singer (Georges Guetary), also a friend of Adam's. And on top of that, there's the older woman (Nina Foch) who's paying Kelly's way.

A messy premise, yes, but its sole purpose is to prompt a bustle of Gershwin numbers and dance routines, all building up to a marvellously OTT 18-minute ballet sequence. It's nowhere near as taut or toothsome as Singin' In The Rain, then, but for fun and footwork alone, it makes today's competition look positively lead-footed. And that includes Chicago.

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