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Irma La Douce (United Artists 1963, Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine)



Based on the stage musical of the same name, director and co-writer Billy Wilder’s screen adaptation of Irma La Douce scuttles the music in favor of even greater emphasis on comedy.

Re-teaming the romantic duo from The Apartment, Jack Lemmon is a Parisian gendarme who falls under the spell of a prostitute from Place Pigalle, played by Shirley MacLaine. Like Pretty Woman, this is a movie about a streetwalker and an upright man who fall in love. But where the more recent film ends on that note, here that’s just the beginning of a story filled with slapstick, sweet deceit and romantic raillery.

Some of the most entertaining action revolves around a convincingly disguised Lemmon going totally unrecognized by his amour. This film won Andre Previn an Oscar for Best Score and MacLaine a nomination for Best Actress.

The set of the bistro in Irma La Douce was built as a 360-degree circle, with rotating walls, so the crew could shoot from any direction.

production details
USA | United Artists | 135 minutes | 1963
Director: Billy Wilder
Script: Billy Wilder, I. A. L. Diamond, Alexandre Breffort,

Jack Lemmon as Nestor Patou
Joan Shawlee as Amazon Annie
Lou Jacobi as Moustache
Hope Holiday as Lolita
Bruce Yarnell as Hippolyte
Shirley MacLaine as Irma La Douce
Cliff Osmond as Police sergeant
Herschel Bernardi as Insp. Lefevre
Paul Dubov as Andre
Howard McNear as Concierge
Tura Satana as Suzette Wong