113 minutes| U.S.A.| 1951| Colour| D-Cinema

Now digitally restored 60 years after it swept the Oscars, Vincente Minnelli’s George Gershwin-based musical remains one of the creative pinnacles of the genre. Gene Kelly is at his dazzling best as Jerry Mulligan, a former GI whose dreams of becoming a successful artist have led him to the city of light, love and the Impressionists. Much admired by wealthy patron Milo (Nina Foch), he risks her displeasure when he falls for shop girl Lise (Lesley Caron), herself betrothed to Henri (Georges Guétary), who’s an old friend of Jerry’s pianist pal Adam (Oscar Levant). This romantic roundelay is, in the end, simply the framework –albeit a consistently engaging one – for some of the finest musical sequences ever filmed.

Most memorable of all is the climactic ballet danced to Gershwin’s titular tone poem on ravishing sets inspired by Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, et al: an eloquent evocation of Jerry’s inner life, and as audacious and exhilarating as its equivalent in The Red Shoes. ‘S wonderful! (Notes by Geoff Andrew.)

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