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11 user 2 critic

That Girl from Paris (1936)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 1 January 1937 (USA)
Nikki Martin, a parisian opera star, takes off in search of adventure and true-love leaving her arranged husband to be at the alter. While hitchhiking, Nikki meets handsome American ... See full summary »

Director:

Leigh Jason

Writers:

W. Carey Wonderly (story "Viennese Charmer" in Young's Magazine) (as J. Carey Wonderly), Jane Murfin (story) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Lily Pons ... Nicole 'Nikki' Martin
Jack Oakie ... Whammo Lonsdale
Gene Raymond ... Windy McLean
Herman Bing ... 'Hammy' Hammacher
Mischa Auer ... Butch
Lucille Ball ... Claire 'Clair' Williams
Frank Jenks ... Laughing Boy Frank
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Storyline

Nikki Martin, a parisian opera star, takes off in search of adventure and true-love leaving her arranged husband to be at the alter. While hitchhiking, Nikki meets handsome American musician, Windy McLean and his band the 'McLean Wildcats'. Windy immediately spites her, but Nikki falls in love with him and follows him to New York by stowing away on the ship his on. The steward finds her hiding in Windy and the Wilcats room. She is locked up by authorities and Windy and the band are fired. When the ship reaches New York, Nikki escapes off the ship and finds out the Wilcats apartment. They demand her to leave, fearing being implicated but she refuses. Clair, Windy girlfriend shows up with Hammacher, and offers the band a low paying job at a roadhouse in another city. Anxious to depart, they accept. Nikki becomes the bands singer. Clair becomes jealous and reports her to the authorities, causing the band to flee again... Written by Kelly

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

1 January 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Parisiense See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the beginning of the film, Pons' character escapes her wedding in a non-supercharged 1936 Cord Phaeton. The Indiana-made car, which cost about $3,700 was rare even when new and exotic enough to look like it belonged in the movie which begins set in France. See more »

Quotes

Whammo Lonsdale: [three musicians, in jail for aiding a foreigner's entrance in the country to help her singing career, are reading about her marriage in the newspaper] And to think, she started wid' us. We give her her first break.
Laughing Boy Frank: And now, we're takin' the rap for it.
Whammo Lonsdale: Yeah, she's been playin' us for suckers all along. She's been engaged for six months.
Butch: [in typical form, Butch always resorts to his unconventional political views] And to a financier, which proves that at heart, all women are capitalists.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Shirobara wa sakedo (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

Seal It with a Kiss
(1936) (uncredited)
Music by Arthur Schwartz
Lyrics by Edward Heyman
Played on guitar by Jack Oakie and sung by Lily Pons with the studio orchestra
Reprised on saxophone by Gene Raymond
Reprised by the band and danced by Lily Pons, Jack Oakie, Mischa Auer,
Frank Jenks and Gene Raymond and sung by Pons
Reprised by the band at the end
Played as background music often
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A funny movie, if you ignore the star
26 February 2017 | by richard-1787See all my reviews

What works in this movie is the comedy of the four men, especially Jack Oakie but also Micha Auer, Frank Jenks, and Gene Raymond - and, in her soapy dance number, of Lucile Ball. Both when they play swing and when they crack jokes, they're funny, and often very funny. I just watched the movie again on TCM, and I came to the conclusion that this could have been a very fine comedy if Pons and much of her music had been replaced by someone else. But she not only does not add to this picture, her moments on screen often detract. And that is a real shame, because other than her, there is a lot to like here.

I enjoy Pons' operatic recordings, and have most of them, but she doesn't work well in this movie. She had neither the personality nor - to be honest - the looks of Jeannette MacDonald or Grace Moore, and at this point she was still having real problems with the English language. A comedy with a lead who isn't good with the language is a real problem. Contrast her with Herman Bing, who misused English to comic effect, and you see the difference. She was no dancer, at least in this movie, either. Her one real talent, that for which she was famous at the Met, was her high notes.

That causes problems in a movie made for a general audience. She is too often given music to show off her very high notes and her staccati. At the Met audiences appreciate that sort of thing, but it seems misplaced in what was meant to be a general audience movie. She should have been given more lyrical music, less fireworks. Think of Jeannette MacDonald singing "San Francisco" in the movie of the same name, which came out the year before, or Grace Moore singing "Ciriciribin" - much less "Minnie the Moocher" - and you see how such a soprano could have handled pop music effectively. Pons just doesn't seem at ease with it.

It's interesting to see how she performs "Una voce poco fa" in her Met Opera scene. If that's how she did the role on stage, she was not much of an actress even by the operatic standards of her day. She tilts her head to the music, and opens and closes her fan. That's about all there is to it. If you recall Risë Stevens doing the Habanera from Carmen in *Going My Way* you can see that more could have been done to make the scene interesting - if Pons had been willing.

This movie could also have used a better director, to make the comedy scenes even better, or perhaps to have helped Pons do a better job. I suppose RKO was not going to assign one of its better directors to this.

But the basic problem is that Pons was not movie material, at least not for this sort of general audience comedy. She doesn't sink the picture, but she doesn't add anything positive to it, either. On this latest watching, I do really feel that she messed up what could have been a fine film.

Footnote: The year after making this picture, the male lead, Gene Raymond, would marry Jeannette MacDonald, another lyric coloratura who was much better suited to the movies, and much better presented there.


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