The first day of the 2011 TCM Classic Film Festival was flush with activity, including the festival's opening night movie An American in Paris. Leslie Caron came to discuss her first film role as star of the movie with Robert Osborne, incredibly a mere 19-year-old ballerina when Gene Kelly discovered her in a production of "La Recontre." The movie would change her life and start a long career at MGM where she would go on to charm in other classics such as Gigi. But it is for An American in Paris that she is often best remembered, which comes as no surprise considering the sheer amount of talent and work that went into the production. Produced by Arthur Freed (who did Show Boat the same year), directed by Vincent Minnelli in lush technicolor, and the iconic music composed by George and Ira Gershwin are only the start of the contributions involved. The musical is so big that it won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1951 upsetting contenders and dramatic frontrunners A Place in the Sun and Streetcar Named Desire.
But my affection for the film comes because of its style. Though the costumes were designed by not one, but three giants in Hollywood--Orry-Kelly, Walter Plunkett, and Irene Sharaff--it is the style of leading man and choreographer Gene Kelly that I remember most. It is his visual voice you see throughout the production as well as his absolute groundbreaking choreography that inspired legions of dancers after him. He's also someone who makes you swoon...he has to be the fittest man I've ever seen and his combination of form-fitting yet casual attire is an iconic look in Men's Style that continues to inspire. You'll find it appearing in current classic collections such as Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors.
In honor of the 60th anniversary of An American in Paris, it has been newly and beautifully restored and the TCM Classic Film Festival was honored with its premiere. Many stars of past and present were in attendance and it was great fun to watch the fans in the stands stop them and cheer--Peter O'Toole, Eva Marie Saint, Mickey Rooney, Jane Powell, Hayley Mills, Juliet Mills, Marge Champion, Ann Rutherford, Margaret O'Brien, Richard Roundtree, Ileana Douglas, Priscilla Presley, Hugh Hefner, Chris Isaak, Rose McGowen, and Jennifer Love Hewitt all walked the red carpet. Family members also came to the premiere including Mrs. Gene Kelly--Patricia Ward--and Alexis Gershwin who shared stories about her oh-so-talented uncles with Robert before the show. What a night!
Press line on the red carpet
Peter O'Toole...right before I got a little wink from him on the red carpet
Peter pausing to check out the spot in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater
where he would be immortalized at Saturday's Footprints Ceremony
Gone with the Wind's Ann Rutherford and classic television's Anne Jeffries
Fans of classic cinema, Jennifer Love Hewitt (above)
and Rose McGowen (below) who introduced her film fav A Place in the Sun at the festival
And now...An American in Paris
Red carpet over...and now back to the Roosevelt Hotel!