In 1963, Billy Wilder's Irma La Douce was one of the biggest box-office hits of the year, grossing twice as much as The Great Escape and The Birds. Yet this popular movie has been almost completely forgotten by film histor... more »y, even to fans of Wilder or stars Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine (the same trio had made a masterpiece, The Apartment, three years earlier). It doesn't represent the best work of those legends, but Irma provides tart entertainment. At least some of the movie's popularity can be chalked up to its subject, which was pretty risqué for the time: Lemmon plays a Paris policeman who falls in love with a prostitute (MacLaine). The script was adapted from a stage musical, but Wilder decided to cut the songs, instead developing the humor and romance into his own blend of bittersweet perversity; this Technicolor-fantasy Paris is kind of a dark cousin to Gigi. Lemmon is in his prime period of hand-wringing self-doubt, and MacLaine is perfectly in tune with his rhythms, especially in scenes that add tenderness to the sometimes queasy mix of moods. Ironically--given the nixing of the songs--the film won its only Oscar for André Previn's adaptation of the stage play's music into a wordless orchestral score. --Robert Horton« less
A classic Wilder Comedy with the best comedic actors of the day.
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MacLaine and Lemmon in Parisian backstreet fairytale
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 05/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Billy Wilder's 1963 adaptation of the successful stage musical IRMA LA DOUCE still makes for an entertaining movie experience. Shirley MacLaine is simply perfect for the title role with Jack Lemmon absolutely hilarious as her comical suitor.
Irma la Douce (Shirley MacLaine) plies her trade on the Rue Casanova of Paris with her fellow lovelies (with such names as Lolita, Amazon Annie, Mimi the MauMau and Suzette Wong). Into Irma's life comes the noble and honest policeman Nestor (Jack Lemmon) who is soon kicked off the job because he refuses to take bribes and compromise his own conscience. Nestor goes to live with Irma as her `business manager' but wants her to give up her profession, so he `invents' the filthy-rich Lord X to become her sole client, and takes a night-job to help the shortfall. All manner of hilarious complications ensue as Nestor's double life soon begins to spin out of control!
Based on the successful stage musical (music by Marguerite Monnot, lyrics by Alexandre Breffort), IRMA LA DOUCE was re-tooled by Wilder as a straight comedy piece. It works quite well either way, though I must confess that as an admirer of the stage play, it would have been smashing for Shirley MacLaine to perform that gorgeous score. The movie does retain the jaunty "Dis-donc, Dis-donc" and Andre Previn's score makes good use out of Monnot's music, particularly "Our Language of Love".
The strong cast also includes Lou Jacobi as the owner of the Bistro Moustache, Bruce Yarnell as Irma's previous manager Hippolyte and Billy Wilder stalwart Joan Shawlee as Amazon Annie.
The evocative costumes were designed by Orry-Kelly and the unbilled narrator at the beginning of the film is none other than Louis Jourdan. Shirley MacLaine was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance here and the movie itself was one of the year's top-grossers.
The DVD presents the movie in a nicely-letterboxed 16:9 print. Colours are full and rich and the soundtrack is stridant in 2-channel stereo. The only extra is the original trailer."
Great For A Laugh!
Alex Udvary | chicago, il United States | 03/29/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Many might want to compare this film to Wilder's earlier Oscar winning film, "The Apartment" which also starred Lemmon and Maclaine. This time the two are in the red-light district in Paris. Maclaine plays Irma, aka Irma La Douce (meaning Irma the sweet) and Lemmon as an honest cop Nester Patou. As soon as Nester (Lemmon) sets his eyes on Irma he's taken away by her,but, he doesn't realize she's a "working girl". After being fired off the force for a hotel raid and arresting the chief of police Nester depressed walks into a bar owned by Lou Jacobi who play Moustache. Noticing that Irma's pimp is acting rough with her Nester decides to defend her by getting beat up by her pimp lol. Finally Nester gets the best of him, and finds that now he is Irma's new pimp. Nester finds that he has also fallen in love with her and doesn't want her to be with other men. He then gets a great idea that will enable her to only be with him. As one might expect since the two worked with each other 3 years earlier there is good timing between Lemmon and Maclaine. And Billy Wilder is in fine form. There are some great moment here, especially in the begining when we see Irma conning men into giving her a big tip. And the scenes with Jacobi and Lemmon are very funny as well. The film is based on Alexandre Breffort's play and was written for screen by I.A.L Diamond and Wilder himself. The movie was nominated for 3 Oscars; Best Actress, Cinematograpgy, and Music score. Wonderful film with lots of laughs! p.s Jacobi's last line "Well, that another story! might make some think Wilder was going for the same type of ending he had for another film of his "Some Like It Hot" in whinch Joe Brown says "Nobody's perfect"!"
Wilder, Lemmon and MacLaine!...Who Could Ask For More?
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 07/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, we already knew the teaming of Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and director Billy Wilder was magic. Just have a look at "The Apartment" for proof of that. And here they are, together again,putting their wonderful spell on the viewer in the delightfully funny "Irma La Douce".
"Don't believe that Paris, is the city that never sleeps", says the opening narration. At 5:00 in the morning, the only sights and sounds on the streets of Paris are the sanitiation workers. But...not too far from the big city, is another district, and it's bustling with workers in the meat and fish market, and produce vendors preparing their goods. You will also find find a street lined with cafes and hotels, and the women that work them. They claim their stations, dressed in colorful and slinky garb, with fitting names like "Amazon Annie", Kikki the Cossack" and "Lolita" , waiting for that one big catch..the one that will set them up for life. They are "pro"fessionals! And there is none more professional than "Irma La Douce"(Aka Irma, the sweet). Dressed in her trademark green stockings, and always toting her little dog(also dressed in green, and a bit of a boozehound), she's the most sought after pro in the neighborhood. She's the best!
Everybody wins in this business. The girls turn their money over to their "managers", the managers bribe the cops, and the cafe owner serves up the drinks and words of wisdom. Everything runs like clockwork. That is until the day, an honest cop is assigned the beat. His first order of business is to make a raid on the girls(costing him his job). He falls big time for Irma though, and must figure out a way to keep her off the streets. And so Voila! ...dressed as a rich Englishman, he becomes Irma's only client, and wears himself out in the process. Watching him keep up the pace, working to pay Irma the big bucks, while trying to keep his identity a secret is as fun now, as it was over 40 years ago.
Jack Lemmon is at his comedic best. He'll have you grinning all the way through. Shirley MacLaine's performance of the sweetest and sexist pro ever will have you saying "ooo la la" . You'll fall in love with Irma immediatley. The screenplay (Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond) is one of the cleverest and wittiest written. The film is nealry 2 and 1/2 hours, and not only does it go by quickly, you will wish there was more.
A wonderful supporting cast includes Lou Jacobi, who plays "Moustache", the philosophizing bartender, who has been everything from a Lawyer to a Doctor in his past("But that's another story..."), Herschel Bernardi, Hope Holiday and Joan Shawlee. The costumes by Orry-Kelly are marvelous, and a score by Andre Previn, completes this great crew.
A classic comedy and a class act..a must have for fans of Wilder, Lemmon and MacLaine.
also recommended: A Couch in New York
Some Like It Hot
the wizard of uz | 05/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ce n 'est pas un film , c'est de la poesie en images , la douceur de la vie , la peine et les joies de l' amour ... tout est la ."
But that's another story . . .
the wizard of uz | Studio City, CA United States | 09/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's astounding. This is one of the funniest comedies ever made and few people have even heard of it.Everyone's seen "Some Like it Hot" (I HOPE!) but even die-hard Billy Wilder fans have missed out on this one.Like "The Apartment" it's co-written by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, stars Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine and is directed by the man himself. There's one big difference, though. "The Apartment" has been justly acclaimed as a masterpiece of cinema, but despite what critics have written about it, it is NOT a 'romantic comedy.' It's a drama. A poignant love story with a happy ending. This one's a screwball comedy. A first class farce. But, that's another story . . ."