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?


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





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


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


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


Comedy | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


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 »


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 »


Referenced in Cheech and Chong's Next Movie (1980) See more »


Our Language of Love
Music by Marguerite Monnot
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User Reviews

Confused misfire
22 March 2015 | by MissSimonettaSee all my reviews

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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Frequently Asked Questions

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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 »


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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