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Paris Blues

"Sydney Poitier and Diahann Caroll on the steps of rue Chappe in the movie Paris Blues"

Where Paris Blues was Shot

This is the movie that got away: the only major Hollywood movie with a Parisian theme that I failed to include in the book. At the time, it was not available on DVD, not even in the US, so I had no choice but to give it a bye.

Later, I caught the final two minutes a couple of times by chance on TCM, and although it was too late to cover the film for the book, I looked frantically each time for the next repeat in the channel’s schedules – everything on TCM is repeated – only to find that it would be screened next on a Thursday morning three weeks hence at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Finally, I found the film, again by chance – on YouTube. I did not even know they were showing films on YouTube, but it seems it is a real paradise for lovers of old movies. (Check it out if you don’t believe me.)

Paris Blues is certainly an old movie (it was made in 1961) and, quite frankly, best enjoyed as a period piece.

Its main interest – apart from the original . . . → Read More About Hollywood’s Love Affair with Paris: Paris Blues

Hugo Cabret

"Place Edouard in Paris"

Where Hugo Cabret was Shot

Hugo Cabret, Martin Scorsese’s latest film, is set in Paris, but nearly the entire movie was shot on a studio stage, in the spirit of George Méliès, one might say, on whose life story much of the film is based. (The silent movie pioneer, a master of the “artificial”, the fantastic and surreal, really did operate a toy shop in the Gare de Montparnasse for several years after WWI.)

The puzzle is not so much why Scorsese preferred to recreate 1920s Paris in a studio but why he bothered to shoot on location at all, and then only for scenes that are of secondary importance to the narrative and that do not enrich or embroider the film’s visual impact in any meaningful way.

The two scenes in question were shot on Place Edouard VII – we can clearly see the king’s statue behind the two youthful protagonists – and, just fifty metres away, on Square de l’Opéra Louis Jouvet where Hugo and Isabelle sneak into a cinema.

Scorsese could easily enough have done for these two scenes what he did for all the others: shoot them on a . . . → Read More About Hollywood’s Love Affair with Paris: Hugo Cabret

The Tourist

"Cafe Nemur in Paris"

Where The Tourist was Shot

For most of The Tourist’s 103 minutes, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck bravely struggles to commandeer the disparate elements of the film – the reworked script, the leading couple with little or no obvious personal chemistry, the glamorous locations – into a coherent whole.

I leave it to you to judge how well he ultimately succeeds, but one thing is for sure: the walk through Paris on which Angelina Jolie takes us at the beginning of the film, trying to shake off the police, has been very well laid out and does not violate the city’s geography.

This may be damning with faint praise, but praise it most certainly is. After all, everybody who is familiar with Paris knows films where people whose apartment has a view on the Eiffel Tower slip into their morning gown…

– Cut! –

…to buy a pair of croissants in a bakery underneath the Sacre Coeur (3 miles to the north).

Whatever you can say about The Tourist, no topographical logic was violated in the making of this film. After all, it is at least conceivable that a lady with an apartment at the Place de Victoire …

… would take her . . . → Read More About Hollywood’s Love Affair with Paris: The Tourist

Midnight in Paris

If you love Paris, you should see this movie. From Midnight in Paris’ opening medley of postcard views to its romantic finale on the Pont Alexandre III, there is much to admire about the scenery, and you will be walking out of the cinema saying to yourself: Yes, Paris really is a very beautiful city.

. . . → Read More About Hollywood’s Love Affair with Paris: Midnight in Paris

Taken

"rue des Pretres Saint Germain l’Auxerrois in Paris"

. . . → Read More About Hollywood’s Love Affair with Paris: Taken