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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 ... 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:

Irma the Sweet puts spice in men's lives...until Jack the Gendarme arrests her activities! 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

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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

Had Billy Wilder succeeded in getting the cast he wanted, Charles Laughton would have played barkeeper Moustache and Marilyn Monroe would have played streetwalker Irma. Several years earlier, Laughton and Monroe appeared on-screen together in O. Henry's Full House (1952), with Monroe playing a streetwalker. 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. Of course, he means 'mouth to mouth resuscitation'. See more »

Quotes

Moustache: It's a hard way to earn an easy living.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Failure to Launch (2006) 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

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User Reviews

 
"But That's Another Story"
28 December 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

When I first saw Irma La Douce as much as I liked it, I was puzzled by the fact that Billy Wilder had chosen to do this hit musical without any songs in it. Very much like Fanny from a few years ago which also had a French setting and came to the screen without its score. The Broadway cast album was a staple in my house and I certainly enjoyed the songs that Keith Mitchell and Elizabeth Seal and the rest of the cast did on Broadway.

What made it more puzzling was the presence of Bruce Yarnell in the movie cast, the possessor of a really nice baritone voice, he played opposite Ethel Merman in the Lincoln Center revival of Annie Get Your Gun. That together with the fact Shirley MacLaine first made her mark in musical roles, in fact she had starred in the screen version of Can-Can the two years before.

Well, according to the recent biography of Billy Wilder by Ed Sikov in fact this film started out as a musical. Somewhere there is some footage of MacLaine, Yarnell, possibly even Jack Lemmon and Lou Jacobi doing some musical numbers lying in a vault somewhere. Wilder said he thought the numbers slowed the pace of the story and midpoint in the film he just scrapped what he had shot and didn't bother with the rest.

Personally I wish he had kept the numbers in, maybe it would have made Irma La Douce run too long. Who knows maybe we'll get to see them some day.

Shirley MacLaine got an Oscar nomination for her performance in the title role. She's a good natured working girl who has the misfortune to get busted by the one cop in Paris who is not winking at prostitution on his first day on his new beat. That would be Jack Lemmon who for his honest law enforcement gets himself fired.

That far from ends it as Lemmon falls for MacLaine and like he did in The Apartment sees himself as her savior. The rest of the film is the ridiculous lengths Lemmon goes to save MacLaine from her life of sin and debauchery.

His one confidante is Lou Jacobi who plays Moustache the owner of a local bistro where the girls and their mecs(that's French for pimp) hang out. His role was originally intended for Charles Laughton.

Billy Wilder has a well deserved reputation as a cynical observer of humankind and had some run ins with several Hollywood greats. But he became an unabashed admirer of Charles Laughton after working with him on Witness for the Prosecution. The tenderest part of that Wilder biography tells about how Wilder kept visiting Laughton up to the end discussing the part with both of them knowing it was never to be. Yet I wish Laughton had lived to do the part. It would really have been special.

Bruce Yarnell's part is that of MacLaine's mec. His career too was tragically cut short by a plane crash that he was killed in later in the decade. Terrific voice, nice screen and stage presence, what a terrible thing to happen.

Though I would have liked to have seen the musical, I can't fault Billy Wilder's production of Irma La Douce. The fact that this came to the screen at all was further demonstration of the Code finally being lifted from the backs of the creative.

Maybe we will see a full blown musical adaptation of Irma La Douce some day. But that's another story.


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