The MGM Motion Picture
The idea for An American in Paris came to producer Arthur Freed when he attended a concert of George Gershwin’s An American in Paris. Freed liked the title and from that he built a musical with Gershwin tunes after months of negotiations with Ira Gershwin, estate trustees, and two different music publishers.
Further developed by the artistic triumvirate of choreographer and star Gene Kelly, director Vincente Minelli and screenwriter Alan J. Lerner, An American in Paris became one of the most famous film musicals in the history of Hollywood and went on to win six Academy Awards in 1951.
In approaching the film’s choreographic sequences, Kelly took the opportunity to make cinematic choices that broke new ground, including the legendary 17 minute final ballet sequence. He also discovered co-star Leslie Caron after seeing her in Paris’ Ballet des Champs-Élysées. Kelly was given an honorary Oscar “in appreciation for his extreme versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.”
The magnificent legacy that originated with George Gershwin’s composition in 1928 and continued with the breakthrough 1950s motion picture has inspired a generation of artists and audiences, and continues to inspire this further re-imagining today.