April in Paris [1952]

Stars: Doris Day, Ray Bolger
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Rating: G (General Audience)
Runtime: 100 minutes

Doris Day landed another All-American Gal role in April in Paris, a musical in which, due to a case of mistaken identity, her unknown chorus girl ends up representing the United States of America in an international peace festival. (The invitation was meant for the esteemed Ethel Barrymore, not Ethel "Dynamite" Jackson. Oops.) Responsible for the SNAFU is state department official Ray Bolger, who naturally falls in love with Doris during a trans-Atlantic voyage. Complication: he's supposed to marry his boss's daughter. The songs here, by Vernon Duke and Sammy Cahn, are a pretty decent lot (the Duke-Harburg title tune was already a standard, and gets a thorough working-out during the movie). The tunes are good enough that that musical numbers easily outshine the story, which is slow and stagy at best--Warner Bros. musicals never could compete with MGM on that level. The flat studio-bound re-creation of Paris must have looked especially chintzy coming so soon after An American in Paris. Most damaging to the movie is the lack of chemistry between Day and Ray Bolger, who gets a very rare leading role here (this was shortly after his celebrated Broadway triumph in Where's Charley?). They simply don't click, and Bolger is busy giving a Broadway-style performance full of mugging and double-taking. But boy, the man could dance. Especially noteworthy is a solo routine that expands, in a neat bit of trickery, into a "pas de trios," as Bolger dances with two paintings of Washington and Lincoln--both played by Bolger. The rest of the film isn't up to that level of cleverness. --Robert Horton

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