Beth’s Classic Film Club: An American In Paris

You guys! Get your popcorn and box wine because it’s movie club time! And this month, I’m telling you about my favorite movie EVER: An American In Paris. Oh my gosh, I can’t even talk about this movie without getting all verklempt. Where do I even start…

OK, so Gene Kelly. GENE KELLY. Gene Kelly…so dreamy. I know Fred Astaire is like this dancing god or whatever, but fuck him, I’d rather watch Gene Kelly on film any day of the week and twice on Sunday. First off, he just completely embodies romance and sensuality. You know how people talk about Marilyn Monroe as this sex goddess? Well, Gene was a sex god. You just can’t help but be wooed by him. And where Marilyn had those amazing breasts, Gene’s got that butt. JESUS THAT BUTT. And he’s in tight pants half the time, it’s FANTASTIC. When he dances, he doesn’t have to speak, because his body says everything. And not only is he amazing to watch, I mean, the guy was one hell of a choreographer and he won a special Oscar for his choreography in this film.

The rest of the cast is great too. Leslie Caron is everything her character is supposed to be–vivacious and modern, simple, reads incessantly, full of life, sweet and shy. How someone so new to acting pulled off this part, well, let’s just say she must be a genius. Oscar Levant is perfect as the master of snark. Georges Guetary is more wise than he seems, and Nina Foch is less wise than she seems.

The story is about love, and loyalty. And it’s poignant and funny and beautiful, and you should watch it with a box of tissues and just let the milieu of post-war Paris, where everyone is still a little traumatized but struggling towards happiness, wash over you. Remember as you watch it that Gene’s character was in the shit 6 years earlier. Remember that Leslie’s character had her childhood destroyed by the war. And oh my gosh, the music! Gershwin. It’s so perfect for Gene to dance to.

My favorite scene is one in which Oscar, Gene and Georges are sitting in the cafe, and Georges gives Gene some advice about love. It’s a perfect scene on so many levels. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but in the comments, I want to hear what you think of it.

This film is semi-regularly on TCM, including THIS SUNDAY! Check your local listings for show times. It’s also readily available for purchase online on DVD for not very much money.

I can’t wait to hear what you think about An American In Paris. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do!

Beth’s Classic Film Club: Kitty Foyle

You guys, I love old movies. No, not Forrest Gump, what are you, 20? Get off my lawn, you whipper snapper. No, I mean OLD movies, preferably black and white. Classic movies, as the folks at Turner would say. So, I started a classic movie club. It’s like a book club but you don’t have to read a book. You just come over to my house, drink box wine, eat popcorn, and watch a film. It’s so much fun!

What’s that, you say? You say you don’t know me in real life and don’t live in Seattle and you’re bummed you can’t come watch old movies with me? Me too…but let’s do the next best thing: I will give you movie suggestions, and then you go watch them and post your comments here. I’ll even introduce the movies like they do on that classic film channel. I don’t have a film studies degree or anything, but I do watch a lot of old movies and I love to talk about them. I’ll also try to pick a mix of famous films, and also some more obscure titles you might not have heard of.

First up, from 1940, it’s Kitty Foyle, starring Ginger Rogers. You guys, Ginger got an Oscar for her performance in this movie, and not only that, she beat out Kate Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story for it. (Hepburn was offered the lead role in Kitty Foyle but turned it down.) Did you know she wasn’t just a singer and dancer, she also had some serious acting chops? She’s one of my heroes. In this film, she plays a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks who falls in love with a rich guy. I don’t really want to say any more about the plot than that, because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I will say that the rich guy is played by Dennis Morgan, who is a little bit dreamy.

The film was a huge hit, and it was based on a novel of the same name by Charles Mosley, which was a best seller. The plot was changed a bit from the book–in the book, there’s more sex, and Kitty has an abortion, both of which were WAY too racy to be in a film during the production code days. One more tidbit of info: One of Kitty’s dresses in the film was so popular that women all over the place were wearing it, and the style is still called a Kitty Foyle in the fashion industry today, or so the Internet tells me. (I know nothing about fashion.)

Warning: the movie has a couple of race-related lines that will probably make you wince. At one point Kitty refers to herself as “free, white and 21” and at another point, when discussing whether she should date the rich guy, she says, “Well, we’re both the same color.” Ouch…I hope that doesn’t spoil the film for you, because it really has a lot to offer, including the introductory sequence about the death of chivalry. Me and my friends had a bit to say about that sequence…

So, once you’ve seen the film, drop a comment or two here about what you thought of it. And maybe invite some of your mom friends to come over and watch it with you! Box wine and popcorn are best when shared with friends.