Song of the Day #4,430: ‘I Got Rhythm’ – Gene Kelly

Continuing my personal ranking of the 25 movie musicals deemed essential by the American Film Institute…

#21. An American in Paris – 1951
(#9 on the AFI list)

An American in Paris goes down as one of my biggest disappointments. Not that it’s bad, but I had very high expectations. One of five movies on the list to win Best Picture, one of three by acclaimed director Vincente Minnelli, and one of three to star the peerless Gene Kelly, this movie seemed destined for my personal top ten.

As much as I tire of large-scale crowd dance numbers, I love watching Kelly’s routines. He has such effortless grace for such a masculine frame. But great moments like today’s SOTD don’t make up for the film’s weaknesses.

Chief among those is lead actress Leslie Caron in her debut role. She’s a wonderful dancer but not a charismatic screen presence when she opens her mouth. The film’s plot centers on Kelly’s expat painter falling head over heels for Caron’s character and chasing her all over Paris, but I didn’t buy the attraction for a second.

Worse, the film mistreats the character of Milo, a wealthy socialite who supports Kelly and is interested in more than his art. The movie wants her to be a villain but I found her mostly deserving of sympathy, not disdain.

An American in Paris features one of those epic last-act dance sequences Gene Kelly loves to put in his films. This might be the most epic of all, lasting a full 20 minutes, and it was a little too much to hold my interest.

So come for the lovely “movie Paris” set pieces, the great Gershwin tunes, and most of the dancing, but don’t expect this one to live up to its reputation.

Ok! Ok! Silence, Silence!
Écoutez moi. Je suis le professeur. Répétez après moi:
Door.
-Door.
Street.
-Street!
Lady.
-Lady!
Window.
-Window!
Flowers.
-Flowers!

Bonjour! Nous sommes très intelligents. Nous parlons en anglais.
Monsieur, you’re a very wise guy. Pour vous un mot très difficile.
A very hard word.
Massachussets.
-Massachussets.
Et maintenant une chanson américaine. An American song.
Dit-moi: “I got”
-“I got”
Bon. “I got”
-“I got”
“I got”
-“I got”
Tous ensemble.
-“I got”
Bon. Et toujours la même chose.”I got”
-I got
Rhythm,
-I got
Music,
-I got
My girl
Who could ask for anything more?

-I got
Daisies in green pastures,
-I got
My girl
Who could ask for anything more?
Old Man Trouble,
I don’t mind him —
You won’t find him
‘Round my door.
Vous comprenez ça?
-Non!
-I got
Rhythm,
-I got
Music,
-I got
My girl
Who could ask for anything more?
Who could ask for anything more?
La même chose en français.
J’ai du rythme,
J’ai du la musique,
J’ai du ma cherrie
Who could ask for anything more?
J’ai the daisies
Dans green pastures,
J’ai ma cherrie
Who could ask for anything more?
Old Man Trouble,
I don’t mind him —
You won’t find him
‘Round my door.
Vous comprenez ça, maintenant?
-Non!

-I got
Rhythm,
-I got
Music,
-I got
My girl
Who could ask for anything more?
Who could ask for anything more?
Le dance américaine.

Who could ask for anything more?
Who could ask for anything more?
-More!
C’est tut!

6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,430: ‘I Got Rhythm’ – Gene Kelly

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I’ve never seen this one, but I love the Gershwin music and the dance routine you featured is quite wonderful.

    It seems a pattern is emerging here where you seem to like your musicals with less music and dancing, revealing that you still don’t really love the classic musical genre. It would be a bit like me watching the top 25 action films of all time and complaining about the extended action sequences and car chases, or watching the top 25 westerns of all time and complaining about too much horseback riding and saloon fights.

    Great Gershwin music and Gene Kelly dancing? Who could ask for anything more? Apparently you can!😜

    • Clay says:

      I don’t see evidence of that pattern at all. As I wrote above, the reason An American in Paris fell a bit flat for me was the story and one of the lead performances. The music and dancing are its saving grace.

      At any rate, starting tomorrow I’m very positive on the 20 remaining movies on this list. It’s unlikely every one of the 25 films would be an unqualified success.

    • Clay says:

      Also, to pick up on your action movie analogy… I don’t think the best action movies are the ones with the most (or even the best) car chases. They are the ones that pair those staples of the genre with the best characters, stories, etc. The same goes for musicals.

      • Dana Gallup says:

        Yes, but it seems one of your consistent criticism is about music and dance sequences going on too long. I don’t think a fan of the genre would have as much of a problem with that, just as a true fan of action movies would not be (as) critical about extended action sequences or car chases.

        • Clay says:

          Well, I never claimed to be a true fan of the genre, though I will say the process of watching these 25 movies has made me much more of one.

  2. Peg says:

    I always loved watching Gene Kelly dance ❤️

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