Movie Fact #206 - May 18th, 2021
The climax of the Oscar-winning 1951 film An American in Paris is a 17-minute ballet sequence that was quite an ambitious feet. The sequence features sets and costumes that reference French painters including Raoul Dufy, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Maurice Utrillo, Henri Rousseau, and Toulouse-Lautrec with some of the backdrops measuring 300 feet wide and 40 feet high. The sequence as a whole cost the studio approximately $450,000 to produce. Humourously, production on the film was halted on September 15, 1950 right before this sequence was meant to be filmed. Why? Director Vincent Minnelli left to direct another film, 1951's Father's Little Dividend (the sequel to the 1950 film Father of the Bride). Upon completion of that film in late October, he returned to film the ballet sequence.
The film would go on to win six Academy Awards (out of it's eight nominations) including Best Picture and Best Story and Screenplay though this sequence clearly lent to the film winning several technical categories including Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. In addition, lead actor Gene Kelly was given an Honorary Academy Award for this film. So think of the sequence as his victory lap. Stay tuned!