Great Songs in Film #6: Georges Guétary Sings “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” in Vincente Minnelli’s An American In Paris

October 28, 2010

Vincente Minnelli’s An American In Paris has never been one of my favorites. I can see all the craft and imagination (not to mention my favorite city), and enjoy individual numbers, but I have never really been a fan of the dreamy fantasy style. The film, though, includes a musical number in which the great French cabaret performer Georges Guétary does a fully choreographed nightclub version of George Gershwin’s “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise.” (1922)

Toward the end of the number there is a short stretch in which Guétary sings with only  the beat of drums in the background. Amazing.

For many years I imagined Guétary’s interesting, exotic accent was probably unique to one arrondissement or another. Then I found out that he was actually an immigrant from Greece who had been born in Egypt.

It’s wonderful.


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