Best Picture Winners Part 24 (of 87): An American in Paris



Title: An American in Paris
Year: 1951
Starring: Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant
Director: Vincente Minnelli 
Runtime: 1 hr 55 mins

Is It Any Good?: Eh. It’s visually a knockout, but it’s narrative is somewhat loose, and all but abandoned in the last twenty minutes. Gene Kelly is a thrill to watch as he tap dances his way around early 1950’s Paris. An artist in love just trying to make a living when all of a sudden a wealthy woman named Milo Roberts steps into his life and offers to fund his newest pieces, up to and including an entire showcase. Speaking of showcase the final 16 minutes of the film are as such for Kelly, actress/dancer Leslie Caron and Oscar Levant’s piano playing. What becomes of it is a scene that throws back to an Oscar nominee from a previous year The Red Shoes. Colorful costumes great music (by George Gershwin) and show fantastic dance moves probably left audiences in 1951 stunned, however it simply just doesn’t hold up to a contemporary audience.   

Memorable Quote: Jerry Mulligan: Civilization has a natural resistance to improving itself.

Competition: Only one true contender. Most of the films this year are okay but not things that would stand the test of time…except one. Decision Before Dawn was a unique and surprisingly sympathetic look at Nazi Germany during their downfall. Oskar Werner gives a memorable performance. Meanwhile A Place in the Sun is a confused set piece lead beautifully by Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor. Though he won Best Director I feel the film lacks a cohesive tone due to difference in George Stevens’ style and the source material. Next up we have a sparkling film whose grandiose ambition in Quo Vadis, though sadly it lacks rewatchability. Lastly the only film I think should have won the trophy but didn’t and that is A Streetcar Named Desire. Based on the Tennessee Williams play Elia Kazan leads a stellar cast including former Oscar winner Vivien Leigh, and future superstar Marlon Brando in a film that defined the 1950’s. Leigh especially plays Blance Dubois with the delicacy of a China Doll.

We’re in to the 50’s now and coming is an eclectic mix of winners throughout this decade. Next up is one of the worst winners in memory and talking you guys through will be difficult, so stay tuned here for the next installment.


Liked it? Take a second to support William Eguizabal on Patreon!