Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
July 03
October 4, 1951
An American in Paris premieres

While director Vincente Minnelli and performer Gene Kelly were solid earners for MGM, their new film An American in Paris caused slight trepidation. For one thing, executives wondered whether the public could sit through a nearly 20-minute ballet section that bordered on the surreal (and cost the studios over $500,000 to make). The answer turned out to a resounding yes. The movie was not only a box office smash, but won six Academy Awards including Best Picture. Arthur Freed, who oversaw the musical unit of MGM, initiated the project with only a title and a composer. He explained to Alan Jay Lerner, who was to write the script, that the film would be named (and about) An American in Paris with Gershwin music, especially his 1938 suite “An American in Paris.” The rest was dreamed up by Freed’s exceptionally talented team as they went along. Since they were unable to shoot in Paris, the designers created a magical copy in the MGM back lot. Freed picked Kelly as the lead, and worked closely with him and director Minnelli to create a ballet sequence that recreated Paris in the painterly styles of six of its most famous impressionistic and modernist painters (Raoul Dufy, Claude Renoir, Maurice Utrillo, Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Rousseau, Toulouse-Lautrec). The high art touches were not lost on all. One MGM responded, “Am I wrong? It seems to me that I once saw some paintings on 57th Street that looked like certain sets in the ballet.”


More Flashbacks
Strangers on a Train July 3, 1951
Strangers on a Train opens

Ironically, Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train actually started on a train. Traveling back to Hollywood with his wife and the writer Whitfield Cook, Hitchcock devoured the galleys of a soon-to-be-published thriller by a brand new writer Patricia Highsmith.

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July 3, 1985
Back to the Future Opens

When Robert Zemeckis’ high school time travel film opened during the Fourth of July weekend, many executives at Universal Studios feared they had a flop on their hands. The film’s star Michael J. Fox, obligated to promote his TV show “Family Ties” in London for that week, was unavailable to promote the film.

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3 July 1985
The Future Today

The recent fire on the Universal Studio's backlot destroyed among other things a town square and bell tower that was made famous for the first time on this date 23 years ago.

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