Study Guide

An American in Paris Power

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JERRY: Hey, Adam, you wouldn't have 300 francs on you, would you? I'm going to Montmartre, and I need lunch money.

ADAM: Sorry, kid. Bought a postage stamp this morning, and it broke me.

In Paris—and just about everywhere else, for that matter—money is power. Jerry and Adam? They don't have much money, and that means they don't have much power. These two starving artists have to rely on their wits and the kindness of others.

MILO: Do you, uh, mind if I look, or will you chew my head off, too?

JERRY: Nah, go ahead, you're okay.

MILO: Oh, thank you.

JERRY: She's one of those third-year girls that gripe my liver.

MILO: Third year girls?

JERRY: Yeah, you know, American college kids. They come over here to take their third year and lap up a little culture. They give me a swift pain.

MILO: Why? They're harmless enough.

JERRY: They're officious and dull. They're always making profound observations they've overheard.

Being a starving artist, Jerry doesn't have a lot of power, except when it comes to his art. When it comes to appreciating his paintings, Jerry feels like what he says goes, and he has the power to say whose opinions matter.

MILO: Why don't you come to the hotel? I can pay you for them there.

JERRY: Fine. Is it far?

MILO: Would you care if it were?

Jerry, you're busted. Milo knows that, when it comes to getting paid, it doesn't matter if her hotel is two doors down or two countries away: Jerry doesn't have the power to say no. She's pulling rank.

JERRY: You must be out of your mink-lined head. I know I need dough, but I don't need it this badly. If you're hard up for companionship, there are guys in town that do this kind of thing for a living. Call one of them.

Jerry may not have a lot of dough, but he does have his dignity. Being a starving artist is one thing; being Milo's boy-toy is another thing altogether, and Jerry thinks it's beneath him.

MILO: I want to help you. I think you have a great deal of talent. Now it doesn't hurt to have somebody rooting for you, does it?

Milo's going straight-up Don Corleone here and making Jerry an offer that she knows he can't refuse. Even if Jerry suspects that she's hiding her true intentions, he needs the support.

MILO: I want to bring you to the attention of the important dealers. They know me. I'm a big customer. We have a large collection at home. I could sponsor you, talk about you, encourage you, and then when you've done enough canvasses, I could arrange for your first show. That is, if you'll let me.

JERRY: Sounds great, but what's in it for you?

MILO: Well, just the excitement of helping somebody I believe in, and finding out if I'm right.

Jerry's right to be suspicious of Milo's intentions. She may be excited to help somebody, and she may be stoked to find out if she's right, but she's definitely using her wealth to manipulate Jerry and keep him close to her.

TOMMY: Milo, you're going to have trouble with that one.

MILO: No, I'm not. He's just not housebroken yet, that's all.

TOMMY: When are you going to stop getting yourself involved with young itinerant artists? It never works. If they're no good, you're ashamed. And if they are, they get too independent.

MILO: Now just dance, Tommy, please.

TOMMY: Alright, but I'm warning you: he'll be out in four months, just like the composer and the sculptor.

He's not housebroken? By talking about Jerry like he's a dog, Milo's intentions are made pretty darn clear here. She doesn't just want to use her power and influence to help his career; she wants to make him her pet. Woof.

MILO: I can tell you, I didn't like your exhibition tonight. I thought you were very rude.

JERRY: Rude? I didn't mean to be. I'm sorry—

MILO: If you insist on picking up stray women, that's your own affair, but from now on, don't do it when you're with me. Is that clear?

Holy power shift, Batman. When Jerry flirts with Lise in front of Milo, the power dynamic between him and Milo changes. Suddenly, Jerry's got Milo's heart in his hands, and Milo's true intentions bubble up to the surface.

MILO: Why do you always make such an issue of money?

JERRY: Because I ain't got any. And when you ain't got any, it takes on a curious significance.

This is Milo and Jerry's relationship in a nutshell. When it comes to money, she holds all the cards simply because she has buckets of cash, while Jerry can't afford a sandwich.

JERRY: You know, some days, you look exceptionally pretty.

MILO: Is this one of them?

JERRY: This is one of your best.

[He kisses her.]

MILO: This is one of your good days, too.

The only power Jerry has over Milo is his charm. When he turns that on, Milo's reduced to a pile of powerless jelly. She doesn't even question why, out of the blue, he's suddenly attracted to her. Big mistake, Milo.

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