January 29, 2006

We Like It Madcap Around Here


A few months ago in the process of doing some research about Shirley MacLaine for le Day Job, Cinecultist discovered that she and Jack Lemmon and director Billy Wilder had teamed up again three years after the making of the Apartment to do the madcap comedy, Irma La Douce. The Apartment is one of Cinecultist's all time super in love favorite movies, so we promptly put Irma in the Netflix queue and finally watched it this weekend. While it's no where near the masterwork that the Apartment is, Irma's still a lot of silly fun and worth a rental for the serious Wilder fan.

Based on a popular musical play, Irma is the story of a French streetwalker who falls for an honest cop who loves her so much he concocts an elaborate plan to keep her from sleeping with any man but him. Lemmon and MacLaine's delightful chemistry keeps this ridiculous plot afloat as his sweetness is perfectly matched by her sexy honesty. MacLaine also makes her character's green accented wardrobe look completely fetching. CC may need to find ourselves some bright green stockings just so we can emulate her style. There's also some very charming physical comedy in the picture, particularly a great fight scene in the local bistro which involves a pool ball in the mouth, a lamp to the head repeatedly and then the destroying of a pinball machine.

According to our Conversations with Wilder by Cameron Crowe book, Wilder never thought this movie worked despite its Oscar win (for best score and a nom for MacLaine) and its hit status at the box office. Wilder told Crowe he didn't think actors should ever "play foreigners in a foreign country with an American accent." Coming from the man who co-wrote Ninotchka, a foreign characters comedy that really zings, we'll believe him. Though really in CC's opinion, you shouldn't let Wilder's artistic bias against one of his lesser films keep you from enjoying the nubile Shirley in those snazzy green tights.

Posted by karen at January 29, 2006 12:21 PM