Irma la Douce

Blu-ray: Irma la Douce (1963)

Presented from a brand new 4k restoration on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK, Irma la Douce looks as good as it’s ever done as Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLane light up the screen in this Billy Willy directed adaptation of the 1956 musical for the French theatre.

French police officer Nester Patou (Jack Lemmon) is transferred to the red light district and is amazed at how openly the ‘business’ there is conducted.

Wanting to make a quick impression with his superiors, he organises a raid on one of the brothels. Unfortunately for him, this disrupts a lucrative agreement between the police and the pimps…and also catches his superior enjoying some of the fringe benefits there too.

Losing his job, he tries to find solace drinking at a bar, where he befriends the titular Irma la Douce (Shirley MacLaine: Oscar nominated for her role as the Parisian prostitute Irma), and through a series of events finds himself with a new identity and a plan to keep Irma off the streets and all to himself.

Despite being based on a musical, there are no songs in Irma la Douce, though a wonderful score by Andre Previn perfectly complements the colourful cinematography and studio based locations which give a feel of musicals gone by.

Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine are once again a wonderful pairing, and while not quite hitting the emotional heights of The Apartment, the verbal jousting between them is as watchable as ever.

Lou Jacobi steals every scene that he is in as ‘Moustache’; a friendly barkeeper whose stories about his past life get ever more intriguing, and always end abruptly with “but that’s another story…”

At almost two and a half hours in length, Irma la Douce does tend to have a few narrative bumps along the way, especially in the 2nd half of the movie where things get especially silly. It’s never too long though before something unexpected grabs you by the shoulders and pulls you back in.

A colourful and, at times, overtly sexual farce, Irma la Douce is yet another classic from Billy Wilder that demands to be seen.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
  • LPCM Mono Audio
  • Optional English SDH subtitles
  • Feature Length Audio Commentary by critic and film historian Kat Ellinger
  • Feature Length Audio Commentary by film historian Joseph McBride
  • Brand New and Exclusive Interview with film scholar Neil Sinyard
  • PLUS: A collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by Richard Combs, alongside a wide selection of rare archival imagery.

Irma la Douce is released on 18th March 2019, and you can buy it by clicking HERE. ALL money raised by purchasing from Amazon via our website is given back to our listeners and followers in upcoming competition prizes. The more people buy, the bigger our prizes.

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Eureka.