Friday, November 06, 2009

Tonight's Movie: I Met Him in Paris (1937)

I MET HIM IN PARIS reunites Claudette Colbert and Melvyn Douglas, stars of the 1935 comedy SHE MARRIED HER BOSS (1935).

Colbert plays Kay Denham, who is happy to leave her devoted but boring beau (Lee Bowman) at home in the U.S. while she takes a three-week vacation in Paris. Kay promptly meets Americans George (Melvyn Douglas), a dour playwright, and Gene (Robert Young), an energetic playboy who quickly professes his love to Kay...but unbeknownst to her, Gene is already married. The threesome enjoy each other's company, first in Paris and later in Switzerland. Every time Gene tries to romance Kay, their increasingly cranky chaperone, George, manages to turn up...

Kay, a department store employee, has supposedly saved for the trip for years, which somehow enables her to afford dazzling gowns designed by Travis Banton. (I couldn't help thinking of Alice Faye's equally well-dressed Macy's salesgirl in WEEK-END IN HAVANA a few years later.) Colbert is her usual charming self, playing a woman who thinks she loves one man yet seems happiest with the man who annoys her. Like Irene Dunne, the elegant Colbert deserves to be much better remembered by modern audiences, who perhaps know her best as the creative hitchhiker of IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934).

Douglas is particularly good as George, whose acerbic wit and crankiness mask his true feelings for Kay. Young also does a good job, first appearing to be a dashing young romantic but gradually revealing a sleazy side. The film, in fact, is a bit risque for the Production Code era, as it's clear Gene has in mind a love affair, not matrimony.

The film benefits greatly from extensive location shooting in Idaho, doubling for Switzerland. Thanks to the principal actors being filmed on location, with minimal use of back projections, the film has a crisp, open-air feel somewhat unusual for its era; a scene with Douglas and Colbert doing their own ice skating -- and very well! -- is particularly enjoyable to watch.

All in all, I MET HIM IN PARIS is a solid piece of entertainment made by people who knew their business.

I MET HIM IN PARIS was directed by Wesley Ruggles, the younger brother of actor Charlie Ruggles. It runs 86 minutes.

The black and white cinematography was by Leo Tover, a two-time Oscar nominee for the Olivia deHavilland films HOLD BACK THE DAWN and THE HEIRESS. His many credits include THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, and THE PRESIDENT'S LADY.

I MET HIM IN PARIS is available on DVD as part of the brand-new six-film Claudette Colbert Collection. The print is outstanding; some of the bright, airy snow scenes look as though they could have been filmed yesterday. The other films in the set are THREE-CORNERED MOON (1933), MAID OF SALEM (1937), BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE (1938), NO TIME FOR LOVE (1943), and THE EGG AND I (1947). (Update: This film is now also available as a single-title DVD in the Universal Vault Series.)

Claudette Colbert movies previously reviewed here at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: TORCH SINGER (1933), SHE MARRIED HER BOSS (1935), BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE (1938), MIDNIGHT (1939), BOOM TOWN (1940), THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942), NO TIME FOR LOVE (1943), THE SECRET HEART (1946), TOMORROW IS FOREVER (1946), WITHOUT RESERVATIONS (1946), THE EGG AND I (1947), and LET'S MAKE IT LEGAL (1951).


Blogger athomeinrome said...

Hi Laura,
I just saw this movie and really enjoyed it. What I love about movies like this is that incidental to the plot are countless little things that show a glimpse of what life was like in this era. e.g. the waiter on skates who takes the order for cofee and orange juice while skating backwards so that Melvyn and Claudette never have to stop what their doing. Aren't these movies wonderful. If life wasn't quite the way they portray it, they certainly paint a pretty picture. Cheers,

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Karen said...

Hi Laura,
Just watched this movie, I enjoy the old movies, and I completely enjoyed the ice skating segment with Colbert and Douglas
I was really impressed with them, they looked as if they were at home on the ice and were having a good time.

8:19 PM  

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