What is the summary for An American in Paris?

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katwood001 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Vincente Minnelli was one of the premiere directors during the advent of color into motion pictures.  He was well known not only for producing musicals such as An American in Paris, Gigi, Brigadoon, and Meet me in St. Louis  but also directed such auspicious comedies as The Long, Long TrailerFather of the Bride and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.  

Vincente's movie, An American in Paris starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.  Ira Gershwin (of the Gershwin Brothers) wrote the music.  It was produced by Arthur Freed and written by Alan Jay Lerner (of Lerner and Loewe).  This perfect storm of musical theater talent resulted in the movie receiving Academy Awards for:  Best Picture, Best Art, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Musical Score, Best writing, scoring and Screenplay.  It was nominated for Best Director, and Best Film editing.  It also received the Best Motion Picture award for the Golden Globes awards.  In 1993, The US National Film Registry made An American in Paris a protected film due to hits cultural and historical significance.  The film has since been turned into a Broadway play that has received numerous awards.

The plot of the movie is a lovely romance interspersed with dance and musical numbers.  The story follows Jerry Milligan.  Having left the military at the end of World War II, he is in Paris as a struggling artist and student.  His major friend, Adam, who is a pianist who plays at the bistro below their apartment is introduces as he meets with Henri, a wealthy man who has raised a young dancer in his home throughout the war and now has fallen in love with her.  Jerry and Henri meet each other through Adam.  Jerry thinks that the young girl Henri is in love with sounds dull.  ""one of those third year girls who gripe my liver... always making profound observations they've overheard."

While selling his paintings on the West Bank, an heiress, Milo Roberts, likes his art and buys several.  Jerry follows her to her apartment to receive his pay.  While he is at the apartment, she invites him to a dinner party that evening.  When Jerry arrives to the party, he discovers that Milo lied and they are having dinner together.   Jerry tells Milo that he does not want a relationship with her in that way.  He tries to give her the money back.  She pleads she is innocent and only interested in his art. 

Jerry and Milo go to the Montmartre Nightclub together.  Milo offers to sponsor an art show.  Milo's friends arrive and join them in the drinking and conversation.  Suddenly Jerry sees Lise Bouvier at the next table.  In order to get away from Milo, he pretends to know Lise and asks her to dance.  She is not interested in Jerry manages to get her phone number despite her attempt to give him a false one.  On the way home Milo scolds him for dancing with Lise. 

The next day Jerry calls Lise, but she tells him not to call her ever again.  Jerry meets Milo at a street cafe, where she tells him that she has found a collector that wants to see his paintings.  Jerry agrees to meet with the collector.  Before going, he goes to Lise's perfume shop.  After flirting with her, he finally gets her to say she will go to dinner with him; however, she does not want to be seen in public.  Through a dance and romantic song, the audience sees that they are falling in love, despite Lise's strange protests.

In the next scene, Milo is showing Jerry an art studio.  She has set up and art exhibit in a few months, and she feels that he needs the studio to work.  Jerry says no because the studio is too expensive.  Milo says she will pay for it.  Jerry agrees on the condition that he will pay her back.  

A major conflict occurs when Jerry and Henri (A friend of Jerry) realize that they are both courting Lise.  This happens as Jerry and his friends are discussing the strange behavior of Lise earlier in the day, when she ran off after pulling up at Jerry's apartment in a taxi.  That evening, Lise and Jerry meet on the banks of the Seine.  She tells him that she is marrying Henri, because he protected her during World War II.  She admits that she loves Jerry, but her sense of obligation outweighs her own feelings.

Jerry is obviously upset.  He invites Milo to a black and white party where everyone is in masks.  He kisses her.  Milo discovers during the festivities that Jerry does not actually lover her.  Jerry sees Lise at the party and he goes over to say goodbye.  During the conversation, Henri eavesdrops and discovers Jerry and Lise's true love for one another.  Henri and Lise leave the party and as they are driving away, Jerry daydreams about being with Lise forever.  His dream is interrupted by Henri's car horn.  Lise exits the car, and she and Jerry embrace as the film ends.  

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