A policeman falls in love with a prostitute, Irma, but doesn't want her seeing other men. So he creates an alter-ego, a wealthy Englishman who will be her only customer. Seems like a solid enough plan - what could possibly go wrong?
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 two cars that go to and fro in the street are a Citroën 2CV and a Renault 4CV, the police cars are Renault Dauphines and the vintage car used in the jailbreak is a Renault 6CV Torpedo. See more »
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 »
I love Billy Wilder, but boy is Irma la Douce a mess...
The biggest issues are the length and the confused tone. This film should have been an hour and forty-five minutes tops; two and a half hours with few laughs or charm to offer the audience is just torture. And then there is the issue of the tone. The film does not know what it is: a sexual farce? A romantic comedy? A romantic dramedy? I don't know, and I don't believe the movie knows either!
The first hour is full of good things: MacLaine and Lemmon have chemistry and while none of the comedy is particularly hilarious, it is witty and fun for what it is. But the moment we get to the second hour, Lemmon's characterization changes in a most improbable manner and the "funny" parts all fall flat. And did I mention the unnecessarily long run time? The one saving grace of the picture is MacLaine's performance as the titular prostitute, whose lust for life equals her sense of world weariness and soulful poignancy.
It's worth one viewing, but it's hard to recommend it to anyone outside of the Wilder, Lemmon, or MacLaine fan base.
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