Irma La Douce (1963)

Original Title : Irma la Douce
Director : Billy Wilder
Writer : Alexandre Breffort
Billy Wilder
I.A.L. Diamond
Genre : Comedy
Country : USA
Language : English
Producer : Edward L. Alperson , I.A.L. Diamond , Doane Harrison , Billy Wilder , Alexandre Trauner
Music : Marguerite Monnot
André Previn
Photography : Joseph LaShelle
Distributor : MGM/UA Home Entertainment Inc. [us]
IMDB ID : 0057187
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poster for "Irma La Douce" by Billy Wilder (1963)
Irma La Douce (1963) - Billy Wilder


ÂJack Lemmon Nestor Patou/Lord X
ÂShirley MacLaine Irma La Douce
ÂShirley MacLaine Irma La Douce


Naive, by the book French police officer Nester Patou, is transferred to the Red Light district. Upon witnessing what must be a brothel, he calls the station and organizes a raid, transporting all the 'ladies' to the jail. This unfortunately disrupts the well organized system of the police and the Pimps union. Not to mention inadvertently netting his station superior at the brothel. Fired, he goes to a bar to drink, is befriended by Irma, beats up her pimp, and finds he is now Irma's new pimp. Nester's doesn't like the thought of his girl seeing other men, so comes up with a plan. Comedy about a Parisian policeman who becomes the lover (and unwilling pimp) of a carefree street-walker. After falling in love with her, the officer conspires to limit her occupation by taking on an alter-ego, "Lord X", to serve as her sole client. Adapted from a successful musical.


More Wilder than Breffort This film is Billy Wilder's rewriting of Alexandre Breffort's French musical farce.In 1960, David Merrick brought an English version of the piece to the United States.This Brechtian play concerned penniless law student Nestor le Fripe and his jealous love for his prostitute girl friend, Irma.He disguises himself as Monsieur Oscar and becomes her only client.When he becomes jealous of Oscar, he pretends to murder the fake client.He is assisted in this scheme by Bob, a bartender who also serves as a narrator of sorts. Wilder keeps the basic idea of the play, but turns le Fripe, now Nestor Patou, into a policeman who falls for Irma.Bob becomes known as Moustache and Monnot's songs are used only for background music.In the leading roles, Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Lou Jacobi, Hershel Bernardi and Bruce Yarnell are as French as French fries.Wilder injects the farce with his usual cynical romanticism.The shame is that all of the leading players had musical comedy backgrounds and could have put across the musical numbers with style. Wilder did not have to use all 14 musical numbers, but 2 or 3 would have made the point.There is no reason why Jacobi could not have opened the film with "Valse Milieu".The "Dis-donc" number is almost performed by Shirley MacLaine in the film, why wasn't it done?Jack Lemmon could have crooned "Our Language of Love" to Shirley in the early bedroom scene.Maybe Wilder felt that the music would take the bite out the his film.It would have, but it would have made the film warmer.Thank goodness Wilder decided to include some silly slapstick to lighten the piece a bit. When I first saw this film, I was disappointed in it, but after a few more viewings, it stands up well against Wilder's other cynical-romantic comedies of this era.And it is the only one in color!
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Irma La Douce (1963) - Billy Wilder
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Irma La Douce (1963) - Billy Wilder
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Irma La Douce (1963) - Billy Wilder
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Irma La Douce (1963) - Billy Wilder