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Irma la Douce

A story of passion, bloodshed, desire and death... everything, in fact, that makes life worth living.
Irma la Douce
A Parisian policeman gives up everything for the love of a free-living sex worker.
Title Irma la Douce
Release Date 1963-06-04
Runtime
Genres Comedy Romance
Production Companies Phalanx Productions, The Mirisch Corporation
Production Countries United States of America

Reviews

John Chard
One of Wilder's most divisive film's amongst his fans. Adapted from Alexandre Breffort's stage musical, Irma la Douce in film form turns into something of a roller-coaster ride. Even allowing for the absence of the songs (a major gripe with purists), the film is far too bloated to really achieve the heights of being a great comedy classic. If it had been condensed to perhaps a 100 minute film then I think it could have achieved the splendour that some sequences hint at. As it is though, there is still much to enjoy, and nobody should be under the impression that this film isn't funny, because it is, but just how long can you stretch the joke Mr Wilder? I think the chief thing that sticks out is just how did Wilder get such an overtly sexual farce past the censors? He pushes the boundary more than usual with this one, and I honestly would be surprised if he himself wasn't surprised to get away with so much cheeky sexual shenanigans. The sets are fabulous from Alexandre Trauner, and Andre Previn's score is perfect and in tune with the Parisian heart of the film, but the lead actors here are oddly not firing on all cylinders. Jack Lemmon's hopeless romantic Nestor is the core humour character. A character who becomes jealous of himself! His transformation into an English fop is hilarious at first, but on, and on, and on it goes till the joke becomes a heavy weight on the film's shoulders. Lemmon is fine, he's just the victim of over ambition from Wilder. Shirley MacLaine is the title character and it doesn't quite come off, sure she gives it gusto and she looks fabulous (as always), but the role cried out for a more cosmopolitan actress, and this again comes down to Wilder losing site of things with this particular project. It's a safe recommend for Lemmon fans, but for Wilder worshippers such as me the problems are evident in spite the film being his highest grossing film of the decade. A cautionary 7/10.
John Chard
One of Wilder's most divisive film's amongst his fans. Adapted from Alexandre Breffort's stage musical, Irma la Douce in film form turns into something of a roller-coaster ride. Even allowing for the absence of the songs (a major gripe with purists), the film is far too bloated to really achieve the heights of being a great comedy classic. If it had been condensed to perhaps a 100 minute film then I think it could have achieved the splendour that some sequences hint at. As it is though, there is still much to enjoy, and nobody should be under the impression that this film isn't funny, because it is, but just how long can you stretch the joke Mr Wilder? I think the chief thing that sticks out is just how did Wilder get such an overtly sexual farce past the censors? He pushes the boundary more than usual with this one, and I honestly would be surprised if he himself wasn't surprised to get away with so much cheeky sexual shenanigans. The sets are fabulous from Alexandre Trauner, and Andre Previn's score is perfect and in tune with the Parisian heart of the film, but the lead actors here are oddly not firing on all cylinders. Jack Lemmon's hopeless romantic Nestor is the core humour character. A character who becomes jealous of himself! His transformation into an English fop is hilarious at first, but on, and on, and on it goes till the joke becomes a heavy weight on the film's shoulders. Lemmon is fine, he's just the victim of over ambition from Wilder. Shirley MacLaine is the title character and it doesn't quite come off, sure she gives it gusto and she looks fabulous (as always), but the role cried out for a more cosmopolitan actress, and this again comes down to Wilder losing site of things with this particular project. It's a safe recommend for Lemmon fans, but for Wilder worshippers such as me the problems are evident in spite the film being his highest grossing film of the decade. A cautionary 7/10.

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