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Irma La Douce


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I do not know if different versions were created for different parts of nation at this date but it was common at one time.

 

There are likely several versions for television depending on whether broadcast or cable and whether basic channel or premium channel.

 

Rotten Tomatoes site lists it as one-hundred-forty-four minutes.

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So, db, how do you like Irma La Douce ? I assume you do, else you wouldn't have taken the trouble to compare duration times.

I am ambivalent about the film. While I think Billie Wilder was a great director, I also feel that his later work was sub-Wilder-standard.

Irma La Douce (1963), directly preceded Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), which has to be Wilder's worst film. And you can see portents of the wretchedness of KMS in Irma. For some reason - possibly the fading of the Code's power? - Wilder started throwing any kind of subtlety to the winds and gave himself over to very broad and often unfunny comedy in the 1960s. (Ok, there's nothing especially "subltle" about , say, Some Like it Hot. But it's so much fun, it "works".)

 

I do like Jack Lemmon, and his scenes with Shirley MacLaine are for the most part entertaining. But I've never been a big Shirley MacLaine fan, there's something cutesy and smug about her I find annoying sometimes.

The big dance scene in the local hookers/gangsters hangout is kind of fun; it's probably the best scene in the movie.

But I remember feeling a definite sense of disappointment right after I saw Irma La Douce. It was one of those films I'd heard of and always wanted to see, but for one reason or another never did until a couple of years ago, one of the times it was aired on TCM. I haven't seen it since, mainly because I had no desire to.

I see it's on today at 5:30, maybe I should give it another shot.

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I remember going to the show to see Irma La Douce in a double bill with Tom Jones. Boy, was that a long double bill for a kid to sit through. I liked Tom Jones well enough, thought Irma OK, nothing more, though WAAAY too long.

 

During the pre-production stage, Billy Wilder, who was a friend of Charles Laughtons', told the Englishman that the character role in Irma of Moustache, the bartender proprietor of the bar where all the hookers and pimps hung out, was his. Laughton had cancer at the time (I think that Wilder knew he wouldn't be surviving it) and it was a consolation to the actor at the end to believe that a good role was waiting for him.

 

Of course, Lou Jacobi would play the part, instead, following Laughton's death in December, 1962. Jacobi's pretty good in the part, but it would have been a treat to see Laughton in a comedy role like that, probably giving a few knowing looks to the camera, at times. Wilder and Laughton had been good friends ever since they had made Witness for the Prosecution together. Somewhere I think I read that Wilder had considered Witness to be the happiest set on which he ever worked.

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Well, misswonderly - here's what 'Irma La Douce' means to me.

 

It played one of the two neighborhood theatres in 1965. It was on a double bill with 'Tom Jones'. You had to be 18 to get in to the theatre then (Restricted to 18 and over) and I was not yet even 16.

 

Three of my buddies - only 1 of whom was 18 - told me they were going to see this. I was unprepared cash-wise - had to go home and rob my piggy bank. So they went in and I told them I'd join them later. Went home, got money, went back to the theater - put on my toughest face, growl-iest voice, stood at full height, and was sold a ticket. The theatre was jam packed - balcony, floor - it was wild. I asked an usher about where my buddies were (he knew them) and he said I had to leave because I wasn't 18. I argued with him - told him he'd let two of my friends in who also weren't 18. We argued for a few minutes and he relented - but he grouchily told me to find a seat and stop searching for my buds.

 

Good advice as there were hardly any seats left anyway.

 

So I watch these movies and the audience is howling. Frankly, 'Tom Jones' was a much better movie, but there were a lot of Jack Lemmon fans there so it seemed like 'Irma' was the more popular feature.

 

I gave it a 6 out of 10. Okay - nothing great.

 

Never been big on MacLaine either. Only 'The Children's Hour' impressed me. Most of the time she leaves me cold. Liked her in 'Steel Magnolias' though. She was very good in that.

 

Don't care for her personality that much either - but I have read 2 of her books - one in the 70's and another in the 80's.

 

And we both believe in Reincarnation. Her recent musings on the principles of Karma which has so many upset with her are very much in line with what I have mused as well through the years.

 

But 'Irma La Douce' is not that good a movie, despite its 7.5 rating on IMDb. Then again, I haven't watched it since the 60's so I could change my mind. After all, I'm an old man of 64 now.

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Well, misswonderly - here's what 'Irma La Douce' means to me.

 

It played one of the two neighborhood theatres in 1965. It was on a double bill with 'Tom Jones'. You had to be 18 to get in to the theatre then (Restricted to 18 and over) and I was not yet even 16.

 

Three of my buddies - only 1 of whom was 18 - told me they were going to see this. I was unprepared cash-wise - had to go home and rob my piggy bank. So they went in and I told them I'd join them later. Went home, got money, went back to the theater - put on my toughest face, growl-iest voice, stood at full height, and was sold a ticket. The theatre was jam packed - balcony, floor - it was wild. I asked an usher about where my buddies were (he knew them) and he said I had to leave because I wasn't 18. I argued with him - told him he'd let two of my friends in who also weren't 18. We argued for a few minutes and he relented - but he grouchily told me to find a seat and stop searching for my buds.

 

Good advice as there were hardly any seats left anyway.

 

So I watch these movies and the audience is howling. Frankly, 'Tom Jones' was a much better movie, but there were a lot of Jack Lemmon fans there so it seemed like 'Irma' was the more popular feature....

 

 

 

What a fun story.

I remember sneaking my younger sister in to see -oh, I think it was Apocalypse Now - at the Bloor Cinema in Toronto. (Remember that? When it was a "revue" cinema? God, I saw so many great films there...)

 

Anyway, my sister was about 15, but I figured she could handle anything in the above mentioned film, and at the time I'd kind of taken some of her cultural education (the less "mainstream" side) in hand.

 

The ticket-seller was adamant that my sister could not and would not be allowed in. So was the manager, whom the ticket person went to get to back up her decision.

So, I pretended to agree that my sister was too young to see the film. But I sneakily figured out a way to get her in anyway. Funny thing about this story is, I don't remember how!

Anyway, she saw it with me, and was not traumatized.

 

(Sorry I edited your post, but it was mainly the story of your underage viewing of Irma La Douce and Tom Jones that I wanted to focus on.)

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Funny about the age restrictions.  Irma was the first live, stage musical I ever saw - Taina Elg in Chicago, 1963; I was 13.  Singing & dancing were wonderful.  Pity those were dropped for the movie.

Yes, they dropped the songs from the movie of Irma la Douce, but they used the music from the songs as background music, so one got the flavour of them. I enjoyed the movie as a kid and regretted that by the time I got to Paris, Les Halles had been cleaned up.  Tom Jones is one of my favorite movies. We were sent to see it from school, which was very unusual for those days, as it's even bawdier than Irma!

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Shirley MacLaine claimed she spent time in Paris brothels doing research for her role. Originally they were going to do a musical that is why Shirley was chosen in the first place but they didn't. That was the story with Fanny too. Both films should be remade with their songs put in.

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