Friday, May 05, 2017

Jerry's Apartment in "An American in Paris" (1951)


The Favorite Film and TV Homes Blogathon has begun!  Check out either Phyllis Loves Classic Movies or Love Letters to Old Hollywood to get access to all the cool entries.  Here is mine :-)

I first saw An American in Paris (1951) when I was in my early teens.  It's the movie that made me love Gene Kelly, really.  And one of my favorite bits of the film is at the very beginning, when we get to see his tiny apartment.  Shall we take a tour?

The film opens with lush footage of Paris.


A voice-over from Gene Kelly's character tells us, "This is Paris.  And I'm an American who lives here.  My name?  Jerry Mulligan, and I'm an ex-GI."


Jerry is also a painter, and he says, "Brother, if you can't paint in Paris, you'd better give up and marry the boss's daughter."


Eventually, we stop getting treated to broad expanses of famous Parisian monuments and large buildings and find Jerry's street.


I've never been to Paris, but I've always hoped it still looks just like this.  We zoom in on the building where Jerry lives and pan up,


up,


up to the windows just under the roof.


One of these windows leads to Jerry's apartment.


We zoom in closer, and there's Jerry, happily asleep.


He's not pleased to be awakened.  In fact, he turns his back on us and goes back to sleep.


But then his alarm rings, so he gets up and does a series of interesting stretches.


The need for all the stretches soon becomes apparent, for he pulls enthusiastically on a rope that raises his bed (which looks like it might be a sofa with the back taken off?) up to the ceiling!


With the bed out of the way, he can unfold a small table attached to the wall, to put his breakfast on it.  Then he sticks his foot on a chair.  Is he going to climb on it?


Nope, he scoots the chair out of the way with his foot -- it's on rollers.  Then he opens the closet door it was in front of and pulls out a little folding table, also on wheels, with a chair atop.


Jerry unfolds the table's leaves, sets the rest of his breakfast things on it, and gets ready for the day with a big breath of fresh air from the doors leading to... his balcony?  We don't really see more of it than this, but I see a chair and a railing, so I assume it's some sort of balcony, or even maybe leads to some exterior stairs.  Who knows!


Being Gene Kelly, he performed all of the above in a graceful, dance-like way that is a joy to watch.


The way he makes the most of his limited space makes me grin as widely as he does here.  While I love my own 4-bedroom house dearly, I also love the idea of living in a small space that you use as cleverly and economically as possible.  Yes, I enjoy wandering around IKEA and investigating their one-room apartment displays and so on, because they achieve very much the same effect, just without the dancing.  And without Gene Kelly, alas.

I hope you've enjoyed this tiny tour of Jerry Mulligan's ultra-efficient apartment in Paris!

36 comments:

  1. A most delightful tour. I too adore Gene and that introduction to his character and his International Tiny Home (look for it next season on TV!). So clever.

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    1. Thanks, Caftan Woman! Gene is just a source of sunshine, isn't he?

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  2. It's been so long since I saw American in Paris, I forgot about his cute little garret. That is some well-utilized space for sure!! And there's nothing like some Gene Kelly smiles to start a day out right.

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    1. DKoren, well, I'm glad I could remind you :-) He's another with that infectious smile, huh?

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  3. Lovely tour Hamlette!!! :D I have always loved his apartment!

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    1. Thanks, MC! I'm glad you're also a fan :-)

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  4. "An American in Paris" is the movie, which made me also love Gene Kelly, or perhaps its the scene where he dances on the piano. :-)

    I loved reading your post! Jerry does know how to utilize space, but not how to keep it clean. Maybe that's just an artist thing.

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    1. If not keeping your place clean is the sign of an artist, I must be the most artistic person in the universe...

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    2. Ekaterina and Quiggy, I've read before that creative minds work best in a cluttered environment. I myself am both creative and clutter-prone, and the clutter only ever bothers me when a) someone messes up my mess, or b) I have to de-clutter because I'm having people over to my house. De-cluttering causes me to lose stuff, forget things, and get really grumpy.

      But I think there's a difference between messy and dirty. My house is very messy. But I strive to keep it reasonably clean.

      Here's an intriguing article on the subject, if you're interested.

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    3. That's a very interesting article. Thank you for sending the article! It has definitely given me a new perspective on messy desks.

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  5. I'd love to watch this! My mom and dad lived in France for a while (although their apartment wasn't QUITE so small, haha), so I think this movie might remind me of them :-)

    Oh--I finished school for the semester yesterday, so now I have time to watch ALL the movies!! YAY. I kicked off my movie-watching-summer yesterday with "The Breakfast Club" and it was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good.

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    1. Jessica, very cool that your folks lived in France! Have you ever been over there?

      HOORAY FOR SUMMER BREAK!!!! My kids finish school next week, and my book revision will be finished a few days later, and then I get a nice dollop of freedom myself :-) The Breakfast Club is one of those movies I feel like I should enjoy more than I do, but it's never quite hit the right buttons for me.

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    2. I haven't, no! I've never been to Europe, but I want to someday . . .

      RIGHT?? I'm so happy to be done! *twirls excitedly*

      I don't think there's any "should" about liking The Breakfast Club, or any other classic movie, really . . . I mean, there are plenty of classics out there that I don't care much for myself. It's all about personal taste, I guess.

      I think I enjoyed the movie so much because I liked how "narrow" in scope it was, and yet how "deep" it was at the same time--1 location, 1 day, 6 people, and one main theme; but they were able to VERY VERY DEEP with that one theme. That's something I really find intriguing . . .

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    3. Jessica, yes, you're right that I don't *have* to like TBC, or any movie, but it feels like a movie that I would love, except that I don't. Like, "Why don't I love this movie? It's got so many things I usually love!" Hmm.

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    4. H'm.

      I wonder if it's the tone, rather than the plot elements or the characters? Because the movie does have a kind of "found family" vibe to it, which I know you love; but it also has this very quietly-melancholy, bittersweet tone . . . which sort of reminds me of other movies I've really loved that you didn't enjoy so much. I don't know how to describe it, really, but it seems like emotional tone makes a big difference to how a person sees a film.

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    5. Jessica, that could be. It's been many years since I watched this, but I think I wanted more closure from it, less of many of them going off their own separate ways at the end? I'm not sure.

      Tone definitely makes a big difference!

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    6. I think I rather enjoy movies with less-than-complete closure at the end . . . I like imagining what might happen.

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    7. I like stories that leave room to imagine what happens next, but I greatly dislike loose ends left loose.

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  6. I've had this movie for a couple of years (bought a 20 DVD collection of Academy Award winners). Maybe I should find the time to finally watch it...ya think?

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    1. Quiggy, if you enjoy musicals, Gene Kelly, or Gershwin music, yes! Make time for it!

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  7. Love your look at his tiny apartment! It's amazing how much he can fit in there. And if you live in a place like Paris, who needs a big house?

    Thanks for participating :)

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    1. Phyl, that's so true -- if you're an artist in Paris, how much time are you gonna spend in your apartment, right? Much different life than being a mother of three who homeschools, hee.

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  8. I need to rewatch this movie again as well. Such a compact little space but so versatile!

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    1. Char, yes! "Versatile" is a great word to describe his place.

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  9. Great description. I will have to see the movie.

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    1. Rosie, it is such a nifty film. I totally recommend it.

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  10. I was so happy that you picked this topic. This scene is one of favorites of any film -- it's just so clever and simple. I love that it's almost like a dance for him. So good.

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    1. Michaela, thanks! I wish I'd had time to make or find a GIF of that part where he closes drawers and doors with his knee and foot because it's so graceful and dance-like.

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  11. The quintessential artist studio! However, while this one is charming in its petite way, I thought the apartment in Les Girls ( also Gene Kelly! ) was even better....at least, in terms of elbow room. Why can't we find the places we love in the movies in real life?

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    1. True confessions time, Metzinger Sisters: I have not yet seen Les Girls :-o

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  12. I had the same thought about Gregory Peck's apartment in Rome in Roman Holiday—"I hope it still looks like that!" I've always daydreamed about visiting Europe, and I think part of the reason is that their cities haven't changed as vastly as American ones—they've kept so much more of that beautiful architecture from past centuries.

    That's such an adorable little studio. I'd probably clean it up a little, though, since I'm the type who's driven crazy by living in clutter!

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    1. Elisabeth, that's another lovely one! And yes, there's much less new-new-new stuff in European cities, which is nifty.

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  13. I've never been to Paris either, but I've seen the streets of Montmartre in several movies and the DO look like in this!
    Jerry knew how to use space efficiently! However, I think it's a very claustrophobic flat to live in.
    Kisses!
    Le

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    1. Le, I know they filmed some of this on location, so I know this is what Paris looked like in the '50s -- I just want it to look the same now!

      Yes, I would not be able to spend lots of time at home if I lived in such a small place. But it's Paris, so there's plenty of reasons to not be at home, right?

      Sorry it took me a while to reply to your comment!

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  14. I do love the idea of a Parisian garret, but you know--those places were infamous for being very, very hot!! Like an oven!! I'm glad the blog tour intro pic's jpeg file name includes the name of the film it's from--"Holiday Inn." That room (set) is gorgeous!

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    1. John, yes... I don't deal with heat very well, so I'd only be able to live there in the winter, I'm afraid :-) Also, I don't speak French, so I'm probably happiest enjoying his garret vicariously :-)

      IIRC, Holiday Inn has some really fun sets!

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Agree or disagree? That is the question...

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