During a high profile Mafia testimony case in California's Riverside County, a hired killer checks-in a hotel room near the courthouse while his next door depressed neighbor wants to commit suicide due to marital problems.
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. Written by
Brian W Martz <B.Martz@Genie.com>
The production designer Alexander Trauner imported from France all the window glass used in the sets windows, as well as materials (iron for railings) used in the sets construction. The window glass was imperfect, wavy, with air bubbles. All the street shop windows, apartment mullioned windows were cut from this imported glass material. Parisienne street lamps, street fire hydrant plumbing hardware, as well as the sets' hardware for door latches, window latches, locks, were air-lifted to the States, delivered to the Goldwyn Studio for the feature. These items were matched, molded and fabricated in the film's staff shop, duplicated in fiberglass. The "L" plan of the three streets converging at the central street core conversion (at the) "Cafe Moustache" was designed in a theatrically forced perspective plan layout. The left side of the street extended through an adjoining (shared wall) stage door. The "T" plan of the central street extended to the rear stage wall, extremely forced in perspective. Minature French "toy" cars, approximately three feet long by fifteen, to eighteen inches high, were maneuvered on wires. The false perspective street raised in height above the stage floor approximately three feet. Scenically, the street's facade of shops were scaled and painted to recede as calculated for the reduced perspective horizon plane. Harold Michaelson, the film's illustrator, a genius at laying out perspective, calculated all the perspective plans and elevations for the three street ends. Atmosphere "extra casting" were hired, utilizing small (midgets) actors for all background action shots. Rain pipes were hung over the entire street set for the rain sequences, with the street's gutter system planned to flush the water out of the stage through stage wall drainage systems into the exterior adjacent studio street. The second story atelier set was located on the same stage, situated behind the street facade. This set was twenty feet off the ground, accessed by ladders. Fork lifts were used to deliver camera equipment and lighting equipment. The cast and crew had to use the ladders to climb up or down to and from the set. A minimum crew were allowed on the scaffold set with Jack Lemon, Shirley MacLaine and Billy Wilder. While filming their scenes in this small environment, the wonderful rapport between the two actors and Wilder was a "very private funny scenario". Behind this set, the scenic shop-department was located on the stage rear wall, with a paint frame and 20' high deck for the scenic artists to work from while painting the film's scenic drops. Additional stages were used for the "Les Halles" and the Cathedral interiors. The beef carcass used for set dressing in the meat market were white plastic formed vacuums completely assembled. Twenty scenic artists painted these carcasses with oil paints, using sponges and fine hair paint brushes. They employed scenic techniques to reproduce fresh marbled fat grained meat. All the cathedral stained glass leaded windows were also scenically oil painted on the imported French glass materials. See more »
When Nestor and Irma first meet, Nestor says he received a medal for performing 'mouth to mouth respiration' on a drowning child. Of course, he means 'mouth to mouth resuscitation'. See more »
In Paris, after six months working with children, the decorated rookie policeman Nestor Patou (Jack Lemmon) is assigned to work in the red light district on the Casanova Street, a place crowded of streetwalkers, pimps and corrupt police officers. The honest Nestor, who is naive and strictly by the book, notes the movement of couples in the Casanova Hotel and befriends the prostitute Irma La Douce (Shirley MacLaine) believing that she is a lady. When he discovers that she is also a streetwalker, he calls the central station for a raid in the hotel. However, among the arrested costumers is the corrupt Chief of Police Lefevre (Herschel Bernardi) that has a scheme with the pimps union. Nestor is fired with a dirty record and has difficulties to find a new job; he goes to the bistro of the versatile and experienced Moustache (Lou Jacobi) to drink, and he starts a conversation with Irma La Douce. However, her bully pimp Hippolyte (Bruce Yarnell) fights against Nestor, but he beats him up. Irma brings Nestor home and he becomes Irma's pimp. However he falls in love for her and he is jealous when she meets a client. He decides to create the wealthy British Lord X to be the only regular client of Irma. But things go wrong when Nestor is jealous of Lord X and decides to end his character.
"Irma la Douce" is a delightful fairytale of the fantastic Billy Wilder, certainly one of the five top-directors of Hollywood ever. Based on a play, this delicious romantic comedy has witty and cynical screenplay and dialogs, supported by the chemistry of the charming and gorgeous Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon, who had worked together three years ago in the masterpiece "The Apartment". Lou Jacobi plays a skilled man in hilarious situations. The lines of Jack Lemmon playing a British lord are very funny. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Irma la Douce"
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