WHO ARE YOU, POLLY MAGGOO? (Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo?)

(director/writer: William Klein; cinematographer: Robert Boffety; editor: William Klein; music: Michel Legrand; cast: Dorothy MacGowan (Polly Maggoo), Jean Rochefort (Grégoire Pecque), Sami Frey (Prince Igor ), Philippe Noiret (Jean-Jacques Georges), Grayson Hall (Miss Maxwell); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Delpire; Eclipse from the Criterion Collection; 1966-France-in French with English subtitles)

“An overload of charming and zany lightweight sight gags that are more silly than funny in their ripping of both French and American cultures.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s the directorial debut of William Klein (“Muhammad Ali The Greatest 1964-74″/”Mister Freedom”/”In and Out of Fashion”), the American expatriate living in Paris who was a former fashion photographer. It’s a goofy satire shot in the style of the French New Wave. It takes its time to present an overload of charming and zany lightweight sight gags that are more silly than funny in their ripping of both French and American cultures and trashing the glamor scene as run by money grubbing phonies. The tame satire can’t hold a candle to Godard, who did the same type of film but is far more political, interesting and world savvy.

Polly Maggoo (Dorothy McGowan, real-life model in her one and only movie role) is a guileless Brooklyn born model with a blank stare who is suddenly famous in France, and a TV program is making a documentary on who is this Polly Maggoo. The producer hopes that the profile will unmask her as a superficial personality with skin-deep beauty. An interviewer Jean-Jacques Georges (Philippe Noiret) asks her a string of banal questions hoping to trip her up, the TV journalist Grégoire Pecque (Jean Rochefort) tries to hit on her as he’s so taken with her beautiful emptiness, and strange men in the street are so taken with her looks that they hit on her with all sorts of offers. But the model dreams of a Prince Charming sweeping her off her feet and taking her to live in his fairytale kingdom. Well, that turns out to be the lovesick Prince Igor (Sami Frey), a Ruritanian prince, whose mom gets two twisted secret service agents to make sure the model hooks up with her lonely son after he falls in love with the model by seeing her photograph in a magazine. Miss Maxwell (Grayson Hall) is the editor of an influential French fashion magazine, whose opinion makes fashion and after she approves of a fashion show where Polly modeled these hideous impractical sharp-edged dresses made of sheet-metal, Polly becomes a household name in the fashion biz world (the opening scene of that fashion show with a snooty audience of women eyeballing the latest rage, was a gem). Ms. Hall’s know-nothing character is based on Klein’s former boss Diana Vreeland, the editor of Vogue.

Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? Poster