'An American in Paris' tap dances on to Blu-ray with a beautiful 1080p transfer using the VC-1 codec in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The ability of Blu-ray to handle the fully saturated reds in some shots is tested to the full. Images that would have looked hideous in the past on VHS, now get a chance to live and breathe with no streakiness and no visible colour bleed. In one of the sequences, three dancers wear scarlet dresses, but they're not scarlet, they're SCARLET. The only word to describe this colour fidelity is 'Wow!'
As mentioned in the movie review, there is some visible grain in the opening travelogue shots which calms down when we mix through to the studio bound material. There is always a very fine veil of grain present. It's just a feature of the Technicolor 3 strip process and it's in no way distracting. I was so happy that no whiz kid had tried to use DNR to remove it. We have a very clean, dirt free image, with no over sharpening to offend the eyes. Blacks are deep as deep can be. I love the slightly warm skin tones as it all contributes to the Hollywood gloss. Overall, this is a very pleasing picture to watch - real eye candy!
The audio on 'An American in Paris' comes in only one flavour and that's in its original mono presentation - using Dolby Digital 1.0 for domestic purposes.
I had heard that some of the sound elements have gone missing so they could not do a 5.1 remix, but in a way I'm really glad as what we have sounds very authentic to the way the movie sounded upon release. The audio isn't scratchy, screechy or shrill as you might consider a 50 year old film to sound. It's nice and refined. Clearly, it doesn't have the dynamics of something with a bass extension, but it's no poorer because of this. I did notice the odd little hiss during quiet pauses in musical numbers, but I think it can be forgiven. It's the great song and dance numbers that really count.
The dialogue is clean and crisp, well mixed back in 1951 using the Western Electric sound system. What we have is a very good representation of the original sound that nobody has had the chance to fiddle with too much in the digital realm.
Accompanying the main feature are a whole host of Extras that will gladden the hearts of Gene Kelly fans, the world over.
- Audio Commentary
This commentary includes contributions from Patricia Ward Kelly, Arthur Freed, Gene Kelly, Vincente Minnelle, Alan Jay Lerner, Saul Chaplin, Leslie Caron, Nina Foch, Michael Feinstein, Johnny Green, Preston Ames, & Irene Sharaff. There's no better group of people to comment on the production with various recollections that real film buffs will cherish.
- “'S Wonderful: The Making Of 'An American in Paris'” (42 minutes, HD)
The featurette has many clips with interviews from the cast and crew discussing the production itself, and the mark the film made in cinematic history, lifting the interest in Hollywood musicals as movies.
- Outtake - 'Love Walked In' (3 minutes, SD)
This is a surviving outtake from the movie, that while interesting, shows why it was removed.
- Audio Outtakes (14 minutes, HD)
This consists of 7 audio outtakes over stills of the cast.
- Radio Interviews (14minutes, HD)
Here we have 3 audio interviews with Johnny Green, Gene Kelly, and a final interview with Gene Kelly & Leslie Caron.
- Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer (85 minutes, SD)
This is a documentary, produced in 2002 consisting of clips of interviews with Kelly from the 1970's, and numerous others. Most interesting (and funny) is the one explaining why Fred Astaire did 'Easter Parade' due to a Kelly tantrum.
- Paris On Parade (9 minutes, SD)
This 1938 MGM Travelogue was shot by legendary Technicolor cameraman Jack Cardiff and provides us with a bit of background information of Paris itself.
- Symphony In Slang (7 minutes, SD)
This 1951 MGM cartoon produced by Fred Quimby (of Tom & Jerry fame) involves a man telling his life-story to the guard at the pearly-gates using an immense amount of figurative speech. An 'of it's time' curio.
The all time classic MGM movie musical 'An American in Paris' looks better than it ever has before as it comes to Blu-ray in this colourful 1080p VC-1 transfer, correctly framed at 1.33:1. The colours are so vibrant and the blacks are so deep that it could only come from a 3 strip Technicolor original.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Mono, in keeping with the movie's original presentation and is very authentically pleasing to the ears.
The movie itself is bursting with brilliant Gershwin musical numbers and the Gene Kelly choreographed dance sequences are lively and entertaining. The ballet finale is one for all fans of dance from the heyday of the Hollywood movie factory.
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- Audio Commentary