Here I am in Paris. I tried earlier last month to make it here but a MacGuffin with my passport kept me in Palm Springs for another month. Now with a brand-new passport in hand and a re-scheduled ticket, I finally made it to Paris.
Sitting with my friend Tom at a café in Place Saint Michel, we are celebrating with a glass of wine our being in Paris at the same time. Tom works for PBS in Los Angeles and as we sip our wine we catch up on our two favorite topics: Paris and Film.
The spot where we are sitting is very close to Notre Dame and this area is, one could say, the crossroads of Paris—or where most visitors end up. So many tourists are here. In fact the place is teeming with mainly Americans but you can hear people from every part of the world talking excitedly in their native languages.
At any rate, Tom and I are trying to figure out why Paris is flooded with so many visitors. As we look around us, we can remember seeing this city in countless films—people eating in fancy restaurants, artists, dancers, painters, models, writers, cooks, sidewalk cafes, bad guys chasing good guys, good guys chasing bad guys, showgirls, spies, wartime and music. We also have seen the famous architecture that has served as a backdrop for so many films. Wine is a whole world unto itself. All of these components of Paris have been brought to us via the medium of film.
We decided that everyone we see walking around us is here due to some movie showing the glory and adventure that is Paris. We then begin naming off movies that have influenced us and most likely are the cause for our sitting at this outdoor café having an excellent glass of wine.
The art of cooking was almost invented here. Fancy pastries are works of art. A grocery store (Fauchon, and Bon Marché or even a little Mom and Pop store ) are an adventure and feast for the eyes. Food becomes beautiful. The world of fashion alone brings tons of people here. Writers and poets flood this city to kick-start their careers. From showgirls to opera singers, theater is an entire sub-culture. Sidewalk cafés in Paris are wonderful for people watching. All of these elements have spawned numerous films which have been the magnets drawing us and countless others.
Tom and I could not think of any other city that has attracted so many visitors. Of course other cities like New York, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Tokyo, Rio, Hong Kong and Rome are very good places to visit but Paris beats all of them for having a magnetic personality. Each of these cities has had films made about them but Paris has had at least 25 times more English language films than the others. So many films have been made about Paris that little wonder there is a universal desire to visit this city. Nearly 1,000 films worldwide have been made that are totally set in Paris or partially set here. Nearly five hundred English language films are set in this city or contain some element of Paris culture. Nearly fifty films have Paris in their title.
That’s a lot of Paris. No wonder so many people arrive here and seem so familiar with the city. Via films they know The Champs Elysees, The Eiffel Tower, The Arch de Triumph, Notre Dame, The Latin Quarter, The Opera, Rue St. Honoré, the big name perfume houses, the three-star restaurants, (Tour d’Argent etc.), the Louvre Museum, Pigalle, The Paris Flea Market, Pere La Lachaise cemetery, the River Seine, Follies Bergere, Sacre Coeur and the Artists sector, etc. etc. If given a quiz about these areas, most people would get an A. Given a quiz about Tokyo, Berlin, and Hong Kong most people would get a D. If the quiz were held on London, New York or Rome, people would get a B minus or C plus. But Paris, ooh la la, your A is almost assured—and all due to the movie industry.
Most films about Paris do amazingly well at the box office. If you’re writing a screenplay, novel or even a song, you could choose Paris for your setting and most likely do quite well.
Here are some films which you might easily recall and a few you’ve never heard of.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILMS WITH PARIS IN THE TITLE:
1917 The Darling of Paris (silent)
1923 A Woman of Paris (Charlie Chaplin silent)
1926 Paris (silent with Joan Crawford
1942 Joan of Paris (English with Michelle Morgan)
1946 Scandal in Paris (with Claudette Colbert)
1951 An American in Paris
1952 April in Paris
1053 Innocents in Paris
1954 The Last Time I Saw Paris
1955 So This is Paris
1958 Paris Holiday
1961 Paris Blues
1066 Made in Paris
1991 Paris is Burning
1995 Jefferson in Paris
1997 An American Werewolf in Paris
2010 From Paris with Love
2022 Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
HERE ARE SOME WELL KNOWN FILMS WITH A PARIS SETTING:
1942 Casablanca (“We always have Paris.”)
1958 Gigi (Leslie Caron)
1963 Charade (Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn)
1982 *La Nuit de Varennes (That Night in Varennes) (See next blog September Sept 29, 2016.)
1998 Frantic (with Harrison Ford)
1994 Pret a Porter (Ready To Wear)
1972 Las Tango in Paris (Marlon Brando)
2001 Moulin Rouge
2007 The Red Baloon ( A rooftop view of Paris)
2007 La Vie En Rose (The life story of Edith Piaf)
2008 Taken (with Liam Neeson)
2009 Julie & Julia (The story of Julia Child in Paris)
Be sure to read the September 29th blog entitled ANATOMY OF A FILM. It discloses some interesting information about the film LA NUIT DE VARENNES. In the meantime, I lift my glass to you, my faithful readers.