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Oklahoma mechanic Pike Peters finds himself part owner of an oil field. His wife Idy, hitherto content, decides the family must go to Paris to get "culture" and meet "the right kind of people." Pike and his grown son and daughter soon have flirtatious French admirers; Idy rents a chateau from an impoverished aristocrat; while Pike responds to each new development with homespun wit. In the inevitable clash, will pretentiousness and sophistication or common sense triumph? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Frank Borzage's movies often took place in Europa:"Street Angel" was located in Italy,"little man what now?" "three comrades " and "mortal storm" in Germany and the sublime "Seventh Heaven" in France,like this one.There are more examples.
"They had to see Paris" is a very minor work,compared to such masterworks .We are used to greatness when we deal with such a genius as Borzage.However,this little comedy shows that Borzage knew what he was talking about.
The Nouveaux Riches' desire to enter the aristocracy was a subject the Pre-Nouvelle Vague French cinema often treated.To name but two ,there was Gance's "Le Maitre De Forges" and Jean Dreville's "Les Affaires Sont Les Affaires".Borzage's approach was not that different from theirs except that they generally favored melodrama whereas he opted for comedy.
A comedy which is not always really funny :the armor gag is rather ponderous.But the father repeating his son's lines ("I've made up my mind....") is good fun.Borzage displays his love for French folk songs by making the nightclub singer teach the Yankee the perennial "La Madelon" -which was incidentally THE song of the Poilus in WW1-
Of course there are clichés ,but coming from an American director ,it's forgivable!For instance whereas the girl is dreaming of marrying a marquis her brother opts for a bohemian life .
These American people cannot understand why they have to PAY to marry their daughter to an aristocrat! The dowry was something sacred in France in those times ,and it should be given ,not only in the aristocracy.
Coming after "Lucky star" ,"they had to see Paris" is necessarily a let- down.Consider it Borzage's holiday homework.
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