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Holiday for Henrietta (1952)

La fête à Henriette (original title)
After the rejection of their latest - and preposterous - scenario, two script writers get back to basics to prepare a new movie. The new scenario centers on Henriette, a pretty, lively ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Henriette
...
Maurice / Marcel
...
Rita Solar (as Hildegarde Neff)
Louis Seigner ...
Un scénariste / Script Writer (as Louis Seigner sociétaire de la Comédie Française)
Micheline Francey ...
Nicole / Script Girl
...
Un scénariste / Script Writer
Michel Roux ...
Robert
Daniel Ivernel ...
L'inspecteur de police Adrien Massar
Odette Laure ...
Valentine
Jeannette Batti ...
Gisèle
...
Virginie - la mère d'Henriette
Alexandre Rignault ...
Le père d'Henriette
Claire Gérard ...
Charlotte
Jacques Eyser ...
Un déménageur
Jean-Louis Le Goff ...
Un déménageur (as J.L. Le Goff)
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Storyline

After the rejection of their latest - and preposterous - scenario, two script writers get back to basics to prepare a new movie. The new scenario centers on Henriette, a pretty, lively Parisian, and how she spends the 14th of July in Paris with her fiancé. We follow the tribulations of Henriette as various other characters make their entry in the story and turn a traditional festive day into something more adventurous than expected. Written by Eduardo Casais <eduardo.casais@research.nokia.com>

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Plot Keywords:

paris france | See All (1) »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 January 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Holiday for Henrietta  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Remade as Alex & Emma (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Sur le Pavé de Paris
Music by Georges Auric
Lyrics by Jacques Larue
Sung by Anny Flore and Lys Gauty
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The director as virtuoso
3 July 2006 | by (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

A penpal from the IMDb was good enough to send me a VHS copy of this French classic unavailable in America. It's a very unusual comedy: After the rejection of their latest - and preposterous - scenario, two scriptwriters get back to basics to prepare a new movie. The new scenario centers on Henriette, a pretty, lively Parisian, and how she spends the 14th of July in Paris with her fiancé. We follow the tribulations of Henriette as various other characters make their entry in the story and turn a traditional festive day into something more adventurous than expected.

What this synopsis doesn't say is that this movie has a very unconventional narrative structure. It unfolds, develops, rolls back on itself and starts again according to the whims, arguments and opinions of the two on-screen screenwriters, their wisecracking female typist and their two girlfriends, while they go about everyday activities like going to the barber or fixing dinner. One of the scriptwriters (Henri Crémieux) fancies himself an anarchist and revolutionary (long before the New Wave) while the other (Louis Seigner) is more of a practical-minded classicist. The first one is always insisting on improbable and melodramatic turns of event, murders or suicides, while the other wants to keep things light, realistic and entertaining. All through the film, scenes and characters are introduced, analyzed and disposed of, resurrected or simply erased from the record. The result is one of those unknown masterpieces of French cinema that will probably stay unknown in America until the Criterion Collection takes a fancy to it.

This film boasts magnificent set pieces, female nudity, sexual situations, witty dialogue, unbelievably risky photography and stunts. Its editing also makes "Citizen Kane" look a student film. But it is most of all revolutionary in its narrative structure. It has been remade twice, as "Paris when it sizzles" (1964) and "À l'attaque" (2000). Even if the first of these remakes was a relative failure, it was also the first mainstream American comedy to call into question the narrative clichés and conventions of Hollywood film-making. The film is taking liberties with the space-time continuum in ways that would inspire numerous films as diverse as "Zazie dans le metro", "Adaptation", "Run, Lola. Run", "Amélie", the later comedies of Sacha Guitry and even the relatively few lighthearted moments of Truffaut's "Shoot the Piano Player".

To this day, anyone who knows about this film – which gives cinematic story-telling the unlimited potential of a radio play - is sill in awe of its wonders.

I have a question for anyone who has seen this film or only heard about it: "Even though it would seem the most natural thing to do, in movies, for a director to play with the space and time structure of his story, can you think of any example previous to 1952 where an on-screen scriptwriter intervenes to change the run of the story?"

The only examples that come to my mind are both by Preston Sturges. There is a short sequence in "Sullivan's Travels" where Joel McCrea, as a director, toys around with the story of a film he wants to make called "Brother, Where Art Thou"; and another one in "Unfaithfully Yours" where the conductor-hero plans a murder in his mind that doesn't quite turn out as expected in reality. But even these examples don't involve the re-writing of the film's storyline as it goes along… My question also eliminates any time-travel-type science-fiction film as well as films that straddle the borderline between dreams and reality like René Clair's "Belles de nuit" (1952).


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