APRIL IN PARIS (director: David Butler; screenwriters: Jack Rose/Melville Shavelson/story “Girl from Paris” by Jack Rose & Melville Shavelson; cinematographer: Wilfred M. Cline; editor: Irene Morra; music: E. Y. Harburg/Vernon Duke/Sammy Cahn; cast: Doris Day (Ethel S. ‘Dynamite’ Jackson), Ray Bolger (S. Winthrop Putnam), Claude Dauphin (Philippe Fouquet), Eve Miller (Marcia Sherman), Paul Harvey (Secretary Robert Sherman), George Givot (François, busboy); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Jacobs; Warner Bros.; 1952)
“Mediocre star driven musical.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Director David Butler (“Tea For Two”/”Calamity Jane”/”Lullaby of Broadway”) helms this mediocre star driven musical, whose best highlight is its theme song. It’s based on the story “Girl from Paris” by Jack Rose and Melville Shavelson. Done in by poor production values, a thin plot and that Ray Bolger and Doris Day as the featured romantic couple showed no chemistry togethera casting decision that didn’t work. The fault is mainly Bolger’s, as the former Scarecrow is a joyless figure who makes for an unsuitable suitor for the perky Doris.
Fast talking Broadway chorus girl Ethel ‘Dynamite’ Jackson (Doris Day) mistakenly receives an invitation from the State Department to represent the American artist in Paris at the International Festival of Arts. The pompous, officious Assistant Secretary to the Assistant to the Undersecretary of State, Samuel Winthrop Putnam (Ray Bolger), who sent the invite to Ethel Jackson instead of to Ethel Barrymore, is told by his boss, Secretary Robert Sherman (Paul Harvey), that the mistake is actually good politics. Sailing to Paris on a luxury French liner is Ethel, who is surrounded by the other American reps. They are all distinguished, middle-aged and haughty white men who do their best to curb Ethel’s natural ebullience. Also on the ship is charmer Philippe Fouquet (Claude Dauphin), a womanizing French entertainer and nightclub owner. Philippe must work as a waiter for his return passage to France, as he’s broke because his money has been frozen for back taxes in the U.S.
Philippe plays matchmaker when he notices Sam is smitten with Ethel. The two lovebirds dance through the night, even though career-minded Sam’s engaged to the boss’s daughter, Marcia Sherman (Eve Miller). The couple decide to be secretly married by the ship captain, and the helpful Philippe makes the arrangements for them. Philippe soon discovers that the “captain” is really François (George Givot), a busboy who was stealing liquor from the captain’s room when Philippe mistook him for the captain.
The farce continues in Paris with the couple realizing their marriage is not official, and they part ways in order to see if they still love each other. Things get more complicated when Marcia flies to Paris to be with Sam, and an angry Ethel pretends to be having a romance with Philippe to get Sam jealous.
It wasn’t that lively, funny or witty. But it was tacky, dumb and artless. Bolger has a good solo dance moment in the energized number called “We’re Going to Ring the Bell Tonight.” While Day sings such genial tunes as “Life Is Such a Pleasure,” “Give Me Your Lips,” “I’m Gonna Ring the Bell Tonight,” “The Difference,” “I Know a Place,” “That’s What Makes Paris Paree,” “Who Needs It?” and “I Ask You.” The more you like the way Day sings, the more bearable becomes the film.
REVIEWED ON 4/12/2009 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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