Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Lou Jacobi, Bruce Yarnell, Herschel Bernardi, Hope Holiday, Joan Shawlee, Grace Lee Whitney, Paul Dubov, Howard McNear, Cliff Osmond, Diki Lerner, Herb Jones
Written by: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, based on a play by Alexandre Breffort
Directed by: Billy Wilder
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 144
Date: 06/05/1963

Irma la Douce (1963)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Lady of the Night

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Billy Wilder somehow sustains the lively pace and humor for the two-and-a-half hour color comedy Irma la Douce (1963) in which Shirley MacLaine stars as a popular Paris hooker who falls in love with squeaky-clean beat cop Jack Lemmon (the pair re-teaming after the highly successful The Apartment). This was perhaps Wilder's last modest hit, but it's also one of his lesser films; it's difficult to entirely justify the overwhelming length. André Previn won an Oscar for his score. MacLaine was nominated for Best Actress, as was Joseph LaShelle's color cinematography. Look for Tura Satana (future star of Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) in her first role.

Kino Lorber released the film on Blu-ray in 2018 with a respectable widescreen transfer that preserves the film's bigness and colors; things like apples and the women's dresses are bright against the drab streets. It includes two scholarly commentary tracks, one by Kat Ellinger and one by Joseph McBride, plus a whole batch of trailers for other Wilder features.

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