Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On screen, do you prefer Americans in Paris or Parisians in Paris?

"I've been to Paris, France and Paris, Paramount. I prefer Paris, Paramount," director Ernst Lubitsch famously remarked. And while on a Hollywood backlot Lubitsch confected an irresistible, glittering city of lights (see his "Trouble in Paradise" and Ninotchka"), ain't nothing like the real thing (see Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris."

On screen, do you prefer Americans in Paris or Parisians in Paris?

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Sidney Poitier and Paul Newman improvise in the 1961 film "Paris Blues."
Sidney Poitier and Paul Newman improvise in the 1961 film "Paris Blues."

“I’ve been to Paris, France and Paris, Paramount. I prefer Paris, Paramount,” director Ernst Lubitsch  famously remarked. Though on a Hollywood backlot Lubitsch confected an irresistible, glittering City of Light (see his Trouble in Paradise and Ninotchka), ain't nothing like the real thing (see Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," opening June 3.)

Allen's charming comic souffle is a fantasy in the vein of Purple Rose of Cairo starring Owen Wilson as a contemporary screenwriter who wishes that he lived in Paris during the Jazz Age. He finds out what it's like to bend elbows with Josephine Baker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, in an era when artists drank each other under the table or danced on top of it.

It's very much an American-in-Paris valentine to the city (as is Allen's Everyone Says I Love You, with its sequence of  Goldie Hawn and Allen dancing to "I'm Through With Love" on the embankment of the Seine).

On screen, do you prefer Americans in Paris (making music and whoopee like Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, Diahann Carroll and Joanne Woodward in Paris Blues or Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face or Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in An American in Paris) or Parisians in Paris (at the existential and romantic brink like Boudu Saved from Drowning, Cleo from 5 to 7 and Diva).

My favorite American-in-Paris films include Midnight (the 1939 one with Claudette Colbert), Le Divorce, Julie & Julia and French Kiss. My favorite Parisians-in-Paris films are Le Million, Four Nights of a Dreamer, Amelie and Breathless. Yours? 

Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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