Wednesday, 21 January 2015

It Happened in Paris (1935)

As I sat down to watch this film, my wife (no fan of old British films) said she was going to have a bath - anything rather than watch "a load of old nonsense" (followed by her bad impression of Moore Marriott). I tried to explain this could be a cut above our normal fare, protesting "But it was directed by Carol Reed!" Her reply said it all: "Who's she?"

You can't win that type of argument!

John Loder & Nancy Burne
But yes, it was directed by Carol Reed, from a screenplay adapted by John Huston. So, even if you don't like this type of film, it does an historic importance: two soon to be notable young film makers working their way up in the industry.

Was there ever any doubt what was going to happen in Paris? It was always going to be romance, but fortunately for the viewer this is romantic comedy at its typically silly, 1930s British, best (well, almost).

When we Brits traditionally thought of Paris it conjured up the image of glamorous women with, we hoped, a far less staid outlook on life and love than their British counterparts. We thought of artists and their models, of the Bohemian life. And sex. You just can't forget the sex.

Therefore, it will come as no surprise to discover this film opens with a view of a some silky underwear hanging on a washing line:

Of course, this being the 1930s, these have to be thrown comically in as a plot device. When fashion model, and would-be designer,  Jacqueline's knickers fall from the washing line she finds herself chasing them through the streets until she finds them in a man's shopping basket where they've been hidden by a monkey (don't ask). When Jacqueline (Nancy Burne) ...
Nancy Burne
... confronts the man, Paul (John Loder) a would-be artist,
John Loder
...we immediately know they are going to fall in love. And, this being a romantic comedy, we also know it won't be long before they have some major fallings out, split up, then are reunited after a series of mishaps that involve Jacqueline designing the wedding dress for Paul's fiancée:
Loder & Burne

That Paul isn't really a struggling artist, but is the son of a billionaire who just wants to build his own life away from his family, is also no surprise. This is the regular stuff of cinema.

When Paul asks Jacqueline to pose for him he delivers a fine portrait ...
John Loder
... although she is less than impressed to find that he has also been watching her through her bedroom window and sketching her as she dresses. Cue obligatory scene of young woman in her underwear:
Nancy Burne

The audience knows everyone will end up happy but what does that matter? This was never going to be high art.

Who else appears?

Bill Shine

Jean Gillie (right) as an artist's life model who spends most of the film wrapped in a bedsheet:

Dorothy Boyd

Edward H. Robins

Esme Percy

Lawrence Grossmith

Although he isn't credited (or listed on the usually reliable IMDB) this appears to be a young John Boxer

Roy Emerton (left)

Finally, here's John Loder wearing a splendid 'Teddy Bear' coat:

Although he also combines a black homburg hat with a casual, soft wool suit:

It's not such a good combination.

The film is currently available in Volume 13 of the Ealing Studios Rarities Collection:

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