An American in Paris is a 1951 American musical movie inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition of the same name by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, George Guetary, and Nina Foch, the movie is set in Paris, and was directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner. Take a look below for 28 more fun and interesting facts about An American in Paris.
1. The music is by George Gershwin, with lyrics by his brother Ira, with additional music by Saul Chaplin, the music director.
2. The story of An American in Paris is interspersed with dance numbers choreographed by Gene Kelly and set to George Gershwin’s music.
3. Songs and music found in the movie include “I Got Rhythm,” “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise,” “‘S Wonderful,” and “Love is Here to Stay.”
4. The climax of the movie is “The American in Paris” ballet, a 17 minute dance featuring Kelly and Caron set to Gershwin’s An American in Paris.
5. The ballet sequence cost almost half a million dollars to shoot.
6. An American in Paris was a massive success, garnering eight Academy Award nominations and winning six, as well as earning other industry honors.
7. Even though Vincente Minnelli is credited as the sole director, he was sometimes tied up with his divorce from Judy Garland and other directing projects, leaving Gene Kelly to take over the directing duties.
8. No words are spoken during the last 20 minutes and 25 seconds of the movie.
9. Leslie Caron had suffered from malnutrition during World War II and wasn’t used to the rigorous schedule of filming a movie. Because she would tire so easily, she was only able to work every other day.
10. Leslie Caron didn’t speak English when she got her first major role. She had a vague understanding of the language due to having an American mother, but wasn’t conversant. Luckily for her, the part didn’t have many lines and was comprised of mostly dancing, a skill that Caron was very good in.
11. Gene Kelly discovered Leslie Caron while vacationing in Paris, where he saw her perform in a ballet.
12. One of the major reasons Gene Kelly suggested Leslie Caron as the female lead was because he felt that the movie needed a “real” French girl playing Lise, not just an American actress playing one.
13. Oscar Levant, who was more of a pianist than an actor, signed onto the movie because he was actually a friend of George Gershwin.
14. At 38 years old, Gene Kelly was 19 years older than his co-star Leslie Caron.
15. Alan Jay Lerner began writing the screenplay in December, 1949, and finished it in a 12 hour stretch in March, 1950, on the night before his wedding.
16. Despite the objections of Gene Kelly who wanted to shoot on location in Paris, the movie was shot at MGM Studios in California, on 44 sets built for the movie. It was reportedly difficult for the studio to secure travel arrangements or locations for shooting. Two shots in the picture are from Paris, but they don’t involve Kelly.
17. Leslie Caron had never seen a Gene Kelly movie and didn’t really know who he was when he arrived in Paris to make a screen test with her.
18. Gene Kelly directed the entire “Embraceable You” sequence.
19. The ballet sequence was almost cut because the shooting was behind schedule, but MGM studio head Dore Schary stood by Arthur Freed, Vincente Minnelli and Gene Kelly in withholding the release of the movie because he felt the movie wouldn’t be effective without it.
20. According to Leslie Caron, her introductory dance sequence, which included a seductive dance with a chair, was considered too suggestive by some censors. Gene Kelly directed the brief fantasy dance sequences shown as Lise is introduced.
21. During filming, Nina Foch got chicken pox. She went back to work as soon as she was able, but as a result, a whole team of makeup artists had to work to cover her pockmarks.
22. Costume designer Irene Sharaff used 25 different shades of yellow for the Toulouse-Lautrec segment of the final ballet.
23. Gene Kelly screened The Red Shoes for the MGM executives to persuade them to back a dance film.
24. 44 sets depicting Paris were built by master art director E. Preston Ames in Hollywood, who himself had studied in the French capital and knew the city well.
25. The part of Jerry’s sidekick, Adam Cook, was written specifically for Oscar Levant who was a close personal friend of Arthur Freed and Vincente Minnelli.
26. Georges Guetary was actually two years younger than Gene Kelly, so grey was added to his hair to make him appear older.
27. Maurice Chevalier was originally considered for the part of Henri. However, Chevalier’s collaborationist stance during World War II was one of the reasons that ruled him out.
28. Fred Astaire was considered for the movie but, as it had a slant towards ballet, Gene Kelly was the more obvious choice.