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Turner Classic Movies’ “31 Days of Oscar Celebration” continues tonight (Thursday, Feb. 18) with a trip to Paris.

7 p.m. (CST) — “An American in Paris” (1951) — This movie is a prime example of how a great ending can boost a film. This musical is the story of an ex-G.I. Jerry Mulligan, played by Gene Kelly, who stayed in Paris after World War II to study art and to paint. He falls in love with Lise played by Leslie Caron.
You have the talent of Kelly, a great cast that also included Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary and Nina Foch, the songs and music of George Gershwin and all put together well by director Vincente Minnelli.
It won best picture and six total Oscars including a best director nod for Minelli. Take away the film’s ending and you have a good, entertaining movie. But good enough for best picture? I think the ending put it over the top for the Oscar.
It’s the approximately 20-minute “An American in Paris” ballet that features Kelly and Caron dancing their way through Paris as it is reflected in the work of famous French artists. It’s the most spectacular piece of dance ever put on film. It’s a thrill to see each time I watch the movie.
A year later, “Singing in the Rain” was released. It is considered Kelly’s finest work and the best musical ever made by many and was shut out come Oscar time. That’s the Academy Awards for you.