It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"An American in Paris" swept the Academy Awards for 1951, with Oscars for best picture and the major technical categories: screenplay, score, cinematography, art direction, set design, and even a special Oscar for the choreography of its 18-minute closing ballet extravaganza.
"Singin' in the Rain," released in 1952 and continuing the remarkable golden age of MGM musicals, didn't do nearly as well on its initial release. But by the 1960s, "Singin' " was routinely considered the greatest of all Hollywood musicals, and "An American in Paris" was remembered with more respect than enthusiasm.
Now that the film has been restored for a national theatrical release and an eventual re-launch on tapes and laserdiscs, it's easy to see why "Singin' " passed it in the popularity sweepstakes. Its story of two Americans in Montparnasse - a struggling painter (Gene Kelly) and a perennial piano student (Oscar Levant) - is essentially a clothesline on which to hang recycled Gershwin songs ("I Got Rhythm," "S'Wonderful") and a corny story of love won, lost, and won again. Compared to "Singin's" tart satire of Hollywood at the birth of the talkies, it's pretty tame stuff.
And yet "American" has many qualities of its own, not least its famous ballet production number, with Kelly and Leslie Caron symbolizing the entire story of their courtship in dance. And there are other production numbers, set in everyday Parisian settings, that are endlessly inventive in their use of props and locations.