7.4/10
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71 user 57 critic

Irma la Douce (1963)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Romance | 8 August 1963 (Canada)
In Paris, a former policeman falls in love with a prostitute, and tries to get her out of that life by paying for all of her time.

Director:

Billy Wilder
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Lemmon ... Nestor Patou / Lord X
Shirley MacLaine ... Irma La Douce
Lou Jacobi ... Moustache
Bruce Yarnell ... Hippolyte
Herschel Bernardi ... Inspector Lefevre
Hope Holiday ... Lolita
Joan Shawlee ... Amazon Annie
Grace Lee Whitney ... Kiki - the Cossack
Paul Dubov ... Andre
Howard McNear ... Concierge
Cliff Osmond ... Police Sergeant
Diki Lerner Diki Lerner ... Jojo
Herb Jones Herb Jones ... Casablanca Charlie
Ruth Earl Ruth Earl ... One of the Zebra Twins
Jane Earl Jane Earl ... One of the Zebra Twins
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Storyline

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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A story of passion, bloodshed, desire and death... everything, in fact, that makes life worth living See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Billy Wilder, Elizabeth Taylor was his first choice for the role of Irma, but he didn't want to deal with the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton affair going on at the time. See more »

Goofs

When Nestor and Irma first meet, Nestor says he received a medal for performing 'mouth to mouth respiration' on a drowning child. This is another term for 'mouth to mouth resuscitation'. See more »

Quotes

Nestor Patou: Why don't we just tell him the truth?
Moustache: The truth? That's dynamite.
Nestor Patou: But I'm innocent.
Moustache: The jails are full with innocent people because they told the truth.
See more »

Connections

References Gunga Din (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Our Language of Love
Music by Marguerite Monnot
French lyrics by Alexandre Breffort
English lyrics by Julian More, David Heneker and Monty Norman
See more »

User Reviews

 
One of Wilder's most divisive film's amongst his fans.
4 March 2008 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

Adapted from Alexandre Breffort's stage musical, Irma la Douce in film form turns into something of a roller-coaster ride. Even allowing for the absence of the songs (a major gripe with purists), the film is far too bloated to really achieve the heights of being a great comedy classic. If it had been condensed to perhaps a 100 minute film then I think it could have achieved the splendour that some sequences hint at. As it is though, there is still much to enjoy, and nobody should be under the impression that this film isn't funny, because it is, but just how long can you stretch the joke Mr Wilder?

I think the chief thing that sticks out is just how did Wilder get such an overtly sexual farce past the censors? He pushes the boundary more than usual with this one, and I honestly would be surprised if he himself wasn't surprised to get away with so much cheeky sexual shenanigans. The sets are fabulous from Alexandre Trauner, and Andre Previn's score is perfect and in tune with the Parisian heart of the film, but the lead actors here are oddly not firing on all cylinders.

Jack Lemmon's hopeless romantic Nestor is the core humour character. A character who becomes jealous of himself! His transformation into an English fop is hilarious at first, but on, and on, and on it goes till the joke becomes a heavy weight on the film's shoulders. Lemmon is fine, he's just the victim of over ambition from Wilder. Shirley MacLaine is the title character and it doesn't quite come off, sure she gives it gusto and she looks fabulous (as always), but the role cried out for a more cosmopolitan actress, and this again comes down to Wilder losing site of things with this particular project.

It's a safe recommend for Lemmon fans, but for Wilder worshippers such as me the problems are evident in spite the film being his highest grossing film of the decade. A cautionary 7/10.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 August 1963 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

Irma la Douce See more »

Filming Locations:

Pont Royal Bridge Paris, France See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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