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Edgar G. Ulmer
Gypsy Rose Lee,
A selection of passengers catch the plane from London for an early 1950's weekend in Paris. The Scotsman in his kilt, the elderly lady painter, the international negotiator, and the pretty young girl all find the city welcomes them and changes their lives in some way. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
This delightful and light-hearted film carries on in the tradition of gentle satire established by Mark Twain in his two popular novels 'The Innocents Abroad' and 'The Innocents at Home'. But instead of American 'innocents', this British film portrays British 'innocents', all except for a seasoned diplomat (Alastair Sim) making a first trip to Paris. The film follows the adventures of each character over the course of a weekend. They all fly out on the same plane and return on the same plane. We catch some wonderful glimpses of early performances by people who were later well known. Kenneth Williams is uncredited as someone arranging things beneath a counter in London Airport (not a window dresser, as wrongly described in IMDb), and in one fleeting cameo exchange, he manages to 'be Kenneth Williams' to an astonishing degree with just a few words. The 25 year-old Laurence Harvey, who is credited and not uncredited as claimed on IMDb, wears a tiny little moustache and is a floor waiter in a grand Paris hotel, complete with French accent. Claire Bloom plays an innocent your girl who has been 'saving up for ages' to afford her first weekend trip to Paris. She meets the romantic Claude Dauphin, and they have a weekend affair with numerous comical moments. Margaret Rutherford takes her easel and paints away in quaint streets and haunts the Louvre. She meets a British man who has lived in Paris for 30 years and has painted copies of the Mona Lisa 338 times but never sold one. She ends up being the first person to buy one, bringing ecstatic happiness to them both. There are some wonderful lines in the script. When Margaret Rutherford, who has never taken a plane before, is asked to fasten her seatbelt before takeoff, she answers innocently: 'But I haven't brought one with me.' James Copeland is excellent as a Scot in a kilt who meets a very sweet French shop girl and commences what will turn out to be a lasting romance. There are the usual jokes about his kilt, and the French women laugh at him heartily in the streets and one taunts him because she is wearing trousers and he is wearing a skirt. The film is shot on location in Paris, and it is astonishing to see how empty of traffic it was at that time. You could set up an easel in the middle of a quaint street and no car would come along and bother you for hours. Paris looks simply empty! And that can't just be because they cleared the locations for filming. From this film it is clear that it is not only the British visitors who are the 'innocents', it is the French as well, as very few of them have their own cars, and traffic is essentially nonexistent. Ronald Shiner is very amusing as a soldier who plays the drum in a military band which has travelled from Britain to play 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary', 'Colonel Bogey', and other such tunes on the occasion of the unveiling of a statue of Lord Byron. He becomes entangled with a French woman and when he discovers she has a child whom she can barely support, he gives her all his money. When he is being funny, his broad comedy technique verges on the over-obvious, but is tolerable for the character he plays. There are excellent performances from the French actresses Gaby Bruyère and Monique Gérard. There are some very fine moments in this multi-threaded film, and some genuine pathos along with all the good-natured comedy. It was written by Anatole de Grunwald, who had tremendous experience as a script writer as well as sophistication, so that the stories all work pretty well. Gordon Parry was the director, who two years before had directed TOM BROWN'S SCHOOLDAYS (1951); he died in 1961. This is a very entertaining and light-hearted film which shows a great deal of Paris as it was in 1952, and is also well worth seeing for those who are interested in the British stars of that era.
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