7.4/10
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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:

3 Lemmons hit the Jackpot 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

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. Of course, he means 'mouth to mouth resuscitation'. See more »

Quotes

Irma La Douce: You oughta be ashamed of yourself, scaring a poor little dog like that.
Nestor Patou: They oughta take that dog away from you, you're not a fit mother.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Afrit merati (1968) 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

More Wilder than Breffort
4 April 2002 | by lzf0See all my reviews

This film is Billy Wilder's rewriting of Alexandre Breffort's French musical farce. In 1960, David Merrick brought an English version of the piece to the United States. This Brechtian play concerned penniless law student Nestor le Fripe and his jealous love for his prostitute girl friend, Irma. He disguises himself as Monsieur Oscar and becomes her only client. When he becomes jealous of Oscar, he pretends to murder the fake client. He is assisted in this scheme by Bob, a bartender who also serves as a narrator of sorts.

Wilder keeps the basic idea of the play, but turns le Fripe, now Nestor Patou, into a policeman who falls for Irma. Bob becomes known as Moustache and Monnot's songs are used only for background music. In the leading roles, Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Lou Jacobi, Hershel Bernardi and Bruce Yarnell are as French as French fries. Wilder injects the farce with his usual cynical romanticism. The shame is that all of the leading players had musical comedy backgrounds and could have put across the musical numbers with style. Wilder did not have to use all 14 musical numbers, but 2 or 3 would have made the point. There is no reason why Jacobi could not have opened the film with "Valse Milieu". The "Dis-donc" number is almost performed by Shirley MacLaine in the film; why wasn't it done? Jack Lemmon could have crooned "Our Language of Love" to Shirley in the early bedroom scene. Maybe Wilder felt that the music would take the bite out the his film. It would have, but it would have made the film warmer. Thank goodness Wilder decided to include some silly slapstick to lighten the piece a bit.

When I first saw this film, I was disappointed in it, but after a few more viewings, it stands up well against Wilder's other cynical-romantic comedies of this era. And it is the only one in color!


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