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Irma la Douce (1963)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Romance | 5 June 1963 (USA)
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
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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 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:

YOU COULDN'T ASK FOR FRIENDLIER FEMALES OR A FUNNIER PICTURE! (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 June 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Irma la dulce See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$25,246,588
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original Broadway production, the musical version, opened at the Plymouth Theater on September 29, 1960, ran for 524 performances and was nominated for the 1961 Tony Award for the Best Musical. The only Tony won was for the performance of Elizabeth Seal in the title role. Keith Michell's role, played by Jack Lemmon in the film, was not that of a policeman, but a law student. Clive Revill, who originated Lou Jacobi's part as the barkeep, earned a Tony nomination as well. All of the Broadway songs by Marguerite Monnot were scrapped for the film, which was not presented as a musical at all. One song, the lush and romantic "Our Language of Love", did become the centerpiece and theme song for the film, whose score was composed by André Previn. See more »

Goofs

The shadow of the "boom" can be seen on the brown wall, at the right of the screen, just after Lemmon shows up in MacLaine's apartment, following his jailbreak. It shows up behind Bernardi, just after MacLaine's sarcasm that Lemmon could be found in jail. See more »

Quotes

Irma La Douce: Who wants to be a stray dog? You got to belong to someone, even if he kicks you once in a while.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Hollywood: The Gift of Laughter (1982) 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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Irma La Douce (Billy Wilder)
16 October 2006 | by wjv-1See all my reviews

Irma la Douce is a gem, one of Billy Wilders best films. Banned from TV for many years by network censors, it began as a Broadway play and ran from Sep 29, 1960 to Dec 31, 1961 playing at both the Plymouth Theatre and the Alvin Theatre in New York. It quickly won the attention of Hollywood and in 1963 debuted as a film starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. It is a love story, the story of a policeman turned reformer who falls madly in love with a beautiful young prostitute. The IBDB captures its essence best: "Irma La Douce" is not only French; it is intensely Parisian French. Set in an area tourists seek, but so seldom find, its musical idiom, its moral atmosphere, its plot and its argot are part of Paris not even all Parisians know; a part of Paris where the underworld is known as the "milieu." A tart is a "poule," a pimp is a "mec" and money is "grisbi." If you remember Sam Seborn's affair with a prostitute in the first season of West Wing, you have the advantage. Mix with this belief in the underlying goodness of a person with the enchanting music and backdrop of Paris and you will find yourself pulling for Nester (Lemmon) in his quest to win Irma's hand. Marilyn Monroe was originally scheduled to play Irma but died before the film work began. As a credit to Wilder's casting, Shirley MacLaine's performance earned her an Oscar nomination for best actress. The film's cinematography received its own Oscar nomination and the music took Hollywood by storm. It's stunning Parisian melody, written by Marguerite Monnot and arranged for film by Andre Previn, won the Oscar for best music and remains one of the finest musical scores ever.

And within the cheerful comedy of the plot, the story's philosopher shines bright as the mentor for Lester who struggles to overcome the muk of daily life. Being none other than the bar tender and owner of the Chez Moustache, the bar and stage center for much of the film, Moustache lends his shoulder to Lester and instructs him in the realities of life: life accepts no conscientious objector and must be approached as if it were a war where only the strong survive. In other words, face the world as it is, not as you were told it was.

Watch this film on DVD and get the wide screen version if you can. If you find yourself critical of the film, remember that this is late 50's, early 60's America. It came out during the cold war, in a period where TV was still in its 'Andy of Mayberry' days. Movies were heavily censored and even the media was under intense scrutiny for what topics matters it discussed. Irma La Douce was buried from play and only lately rediscovered by VHS & DVD fans. Transport yourself back to the "Milieu" and enjoy, you may just learn something about life!


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