Sunday, January 4, 2015

Silent Sundays: So This is Paris (1926)


“It’s always fair weather when good liars get together.”

            Whenever I think of Paris in the 1920s I think of a few things: Surrealism, Ernest Hemingway, jazz, and booze. If it is anything like what literature and the movies portray sign me up for time travel! I probably sound like every other girl or person out there who has romantic dreams of what Paris was like in the 1920s. I like to study Surrealist photography from the 1920s which included Man Ray and Salvador Dali so I have learned some very interesting things about their lives during that time and somewhat of what Paris was like. It always seems like Paris was one continuous care-free party after another. I am sure it was if you had money or came from money or just wasted your money.
            I also like to imagine what it must have been like to be a wife of a wealthy man back then. Since I would most likely not have been the partying type I like to think I would have been a great patron of the arts and my collection would have consisted of Monets, Picassos, Matisses, and Dalis. Maybe even some great works by nineteenth century artists (I have a degree in Art History mid-late nineteenth century European art is my favorite). But, on the other hand, I would like to think I would be a party animal with or without my husband going out to clubs dancing and drinking until all hours of the morning. But in today’s world I am not much of a party animal so I am sure I would have been the type of girl who dreams about being a party animal much like I do now (I have friends and cousins who are very social and go out and my current idols/obsessions are Grace Helbig, Mamrie Hart, and Hannah Hart who all like to drink. I guess I live vicariously through all of them…. For now. It takes money to go out, people, and I do not have that or the alcohol tolerance unfortunately).
            What old films have taught me over and over is that when a woman or man is rich they get bored. And when they become bored with their lives they seek out adventure and lust. That is something I would never want to happen to me if I was in Paris in the 1920s or any other time before World War II. It does happen to the four main characters in the silent Ernst Lubitsch film So This is Paris.
            Georgette and her husband Maurice are dancers. They had been practicing an Arabian style dance when they decided to take a rest. Maurice took his rest in a chair by the window. Across the way in another building, Suzanne Giraud had just finished reading her book about a sheik. She looks out her window and sees Maurice sitting across the way without his shirt on. Suzanne is appalled. When her husband Paul comes home she demands him to go have a talk with the man to tell him to put his shirt on.
            With hat and cane Paul walks over the other building. When he is introduced to Georgette they know each other. The old friends share some wild stories with each other. Paul is standing with his back to the window where his wife can see him and he is laughing. To his wife across the way it looks as though Paul is having a fight with Maurice. When he goes home Paul pretends to look miserable because of his fight and wants to be alone. He tells Suzanne he smashed Maurice to bits with his cane. Maurice brings Paul cane over since he left it at his house. While Paul stays in his room too afraid to come out, Maurice kisses Suzanne. He wants to see her again.
            The following day, Georgette calls from a payphone to Paul’s house pretending she needs Paul, a doctor, to tend to her sick husband. Suzanne tells him about the call and where to go. Paul speeds away into town. On his way to the hotel he gets pulled over. He tells the officer that he is a doctor but he cannot prove that because he forgot his papers. The officer follows him to the hotel where he sees Paul hugging Georgette and laughing. The officer becomes upset and writes Paul a ticket. Paul yells at him and causes the officer to become even more upset and writes a ticket for Paul to show up for jail time.
            Suzanne cannot believe that Paul was given a ticket and has to report for jail time. She tries to call the house with the name of the patient Paul had said he was tending to. When Suzanne dials the number of the name in the phone books a woman answers and says her husband died. Instead of looking worried or upset Paul looks relived. He races out of the house across the street to Georgette and tells her he wants to go get a drink to celebrate the poor man’s death.
            Paul has to report for jail but instead he goes out to an Artist’s Ball with Georgette. He dresses up in his finest suit which confuses Suzanne. He reassures his wife he is wearing his suit because he is a genius and no one else will be wearing one. Across the way, Maurice pretends to be sick so he can go and see Suzanne.
            Later that night a detective comes looking for Paul because he did not report to jail. So as not to cause a scandal Suzanne nudges Maurice to go with the detective pretending to be Paul. When the detective and Maurice leave Suzanne puts a radio program on that is broadcasting from the Artist’s Ball. Paul and Georgette are announced the winners of a competition. Suzanne is furious she gets dressed up to go to the party to retrieve. When they come home Suzanne belittles her husband telling him she got him a pardon from jail and that she will be handling everything in the house from now on.
            Maurice is put in jail for Paul’s crimes. He writes to Georgette that the doctor has ordered him to go to a sanatorium for his health. In the papers the morning after the party, Paul and Suzanne read that he was arrested and as he was being arrested Suzanne cried for him. Paul just starts laughing at how no one should ever trust what they read in the papers.

            So This is Paris was alright. It was not what I was expecting. I was hoping it would be a crazy non-stop party type of film set in Paris. I was not crazy about the whole husbands and wives cheating storyline but at times it was funny. I watched the film to see Myrna Loy. She played a maid and I must have completely missed her very small part because I do not recall seeing her. Ernst Lubitsch is a genius. His direction adds so much to the characters and the stories of his films. If Lubitsch had no made So This is Paris, to me, it would have bombed.