Monday, December 17, 2007

Our love is here to stay?

Yesterday somewhere between a ginormous brunch at Sundance and a bottle of wine with my mom, I watched one of my favorite films, An American in Paris, and really realized how times have changed. I mean, this is no shock since the film came out in the mid-50s. It boggles my mind to think on what's come out since then: Lean Cuisine, diet soda, internet porn-- all the important things on which we've come to rely.

There is a scene in An American in Paris which was probably very romantic at the time, where Gene Kelly (who is the number three love of my life only behind Dean Martin and Jimmy Stewart) seemed the quintessential leading man in search of his love, but a scene I found particularly creepy now. Actions that simply would not fly in this time of technology and, well, stalking laws.

Let me summarize, Gene Kelly ends up at a bar with this chick who is quickly becoming his sugar-mama. While there, he ends up seeing a very French Leslie Caron from afar and all but kidnaps her to dance with him. (sidebar: I'm not a fan of Leslie Caron, and never have been. I much prefer the Gene Kelly/ Cyd Charisse pairings from both Brigadoon and Singing in the Rain and I also hated Caron in Gigi. Actually, I hate the movie Gigi.) The next day Kelly, still thinking of the lovely Caron, invades her privacy by dropping her an unwanted phone call while she's working at the perfume shop. Caron hangs up on him, telling him never to call her again.

Not taking the blatant hint, Kelly goes to her work to find her, woo her, then further annoy her. He finds her at work! Right at the perfume shop! The "Pop-In." This is not romantic. This is creepy. This is behavior exhibited by people who have addictions to things. This is not action of someone who respects the woman's wishes to be left alone.

I was watching this and getting mad at Gene Kelly. "How can you do this, Gene?" I asked the TV out loud. "How can you completely disrespect her wishes and continue to bother her time and time and time again?"

I continued, "You're a nice guy, Gene, a very nice guy. You're also a snappy dancer. But leave the poor girl alone if she doesn't want to talk to you. You're not a psycho, but you're acting like one."

If this were in today's world, I daresay Gene Kelly would be one jazz-step away from putting the lotion in the basket. Like all movies at that time, this relationship finally ended with a happy feel-good button and an old-time song and dance. Things I just don't see happening in this jaded world of 2007.


1979 semi-finalist said...

this was on the other night and i almost watched it's been on my "to see" list for a long time. but there was too much holiday stuff to do, so i passed. after reading about it here i'm not sure if i did the right thing or not hol.


Holly said...

You should definitely watch it, Kel, it's an amazing movie that was WAY ahead of its time as far as cinematography. Thematically, well, yeah my post explains that, but Gene Kelly is amazing. It's just for some reason I was creeped out by things this time around and by today's "standards" Kelly was kind of a spooky old man.

Pretty Polly said...

THAT part annoyed you? ;)
How about Jerry's terrible behaviour towards the other woman (the unforgettable - and now late - Nina Foch)?
Honestly, I don't know what they were thinking... Not even in a comedy would a male character get away with such blatant lack of basic gallantry - let alone a supposedly "romantic" film!

And BTW, I must confess I too HATE Leslie Caron in this movie (and in most movies).
I am definitely not one of those Saint-Audrey-Hepburn freaks, but I can totally see Audrey as "Lise" (as it was originally planned, I am told).

Alexis Smolensk said...

I have always loathed, despised and been incomprehensive of how Caron ever got to be a 'star.' Clear and complete evidence of the studio beating to death a girl they found and which they thought everyone should love ... executive meddling at its finest.

Love Gene Kelly, love Cyd Charisse, love Audrey Hepburn. But having finally brought myself around again to seeing An American in Paris after three decades, I could wait another six more to do it again.