Foreign Film Friday -La Parisienne (1957)

SUMMARY

Brigitte Laurier (Brigitte Bardot) is the precocious daughter of France’s president. She has fallen in love with her father’s employee, the handsome womanizer Michel Legrand (Henri Vidal). Not only does she arrange to become Michel’s secretary, but she sticks like glue to him outside the office despite his apparent lack of interest in her.

On a weekend when President Laurier is hosting various government officials at his home, Brigitte contrives to be found in Michel’s bed. Her furious father insists they marry. Once she has caught him, Brigitte isn’t as eager for the union since the marriage was forced upon Michel.

However, Michel surprises her by displaying a previously hidden appetite for his sexy new wife. But Brigitte hasn’t forgotten Michel’s past as a notorious ladies man. She is convinced it is only a matter of time until he cheats on her. When an old mistress phones their home, Brigitte decides two can play that game. She resolves to have an affair of her own. The problem is she has chosen an aging married prince as her partner, who is on a diplomatic trip to Paris.

Michel has no specific intentions of cheating on his wife and at first doesn’t take her stated payback seriously. But when Brigitte and the Prince Charles (Charles Boyer) both happen to disappear on the same day, his suspicions are aroused. Not only that, but if Brigitte and the Prince are linked together, it could create an international incident. Will this husband and wife reconcile before they create a political scandal?

MY THOUGHTS

You guys. How have I never seen a Brigitte Bardot film before? She is absolutely charming as the young determined wife of a more mature playboy in La Parisienne. Bardot’s character is a cross between Doris Day and Marilyn Monroe, innocence mixed with an innate sexiness. So yes, she does act immature at times, which annoyed me, but she is playing a twenty year old character, so that is to be expected.Brigitte Bardot & Charles Boyer

Of course Charles Boyer is a perfectly cast as the aging Prince who may or may not be taking Brigitte’s desire for an affair seriously. Though he is willing to play along to make her husband jealous,  I never could quite determine if he would actually have an affair with Brigitte given the opportunity. This ambiguity kept me guessing throughout the film.

Henri Vidal is new to me. I thought he struck just the right balance between wolfish playboy and serious politician. He provided a great counterpoint to Bardot’s sex kitten with his gravitas.

Brigitte BardotI would classify La Parisienne as a screwball comedy. And as I adore screwball comedy, so I fell hard for this crazy story. Even though I love classic film and have branched out into foreign films, I’ve hesitated in watching classic foreign films. I don’t know why. I had the unsubstantiated feeling that I wouldn’t enjoy them. How stupid can I be?? Anyway, that ridiculous bias has now been shattered.

Not only did I enjoy the acting and the comedic story line, but I loved seeing 1950’s Paris, in color. Until time travel is possible, this is the best method I know of seeing this fashionable, chic setting.

La Parisienne will never be listed among the great films, but it is something infinitely better in my book -fun and entertaining. I can certainly guarantee that I will be seeking out more Bardot films after this.

Though I watched this when it aired recently on TCM, it is only available through the streaming service FilmStruck.

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