O la la! Romance in France conjures up all kinds of visions! Eating croissants in a cafe on the Left Bank, sipping champagne on a tour at the great houses of Mumm or Taittinger, holding hands with your sweetie on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees… kisses in a horse-driven carriage… shall I go on?
Unfortunately, the closest some of us will get to Paris is visiting its namesake in Ontario. Not the same thing, alas. (And don’t even mention that other Paris…) But we always have our movies, don’t we? So forget about calories! Pop down to the local bakery for your favourite French pastries, sip a glass of bubbly even if it’s not Mumm’s then sit back and enjoy “a romance in France”. C’est tres bon, mes amis!
Arch of Triumph (1948)
Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer star in this flick set in Paris just before the start of World War II. Ingrid is the shady lady with a past and Boyer a refugee doctor hiding from the Nazis. Based on a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, this dark story of murder and a doomed love affair isn’t the cheeriest flick around. (In 1985 it was remade for television and starred Anthony Hopkins and Lesley-Ann Down in the Boyer/Bergman roles.) Whip out the tissues and have another glass of champagne.
Paris When It Sizzles (1964)
William Holden plays a scriptwriter who spent his writing time with wine, women and song instead of slaving away at the typewriter. Now his deadline’s a few days away. So he hires Audrey Hepburn to boost his writing skills in this story-within-a-story romantic comedy. While imagining various romantic scenes for the screenplay, they fall in love of course. Watch for cameos by Tony Curtis and Marlene Dietrich.
A Little Romance (1979)
Thirteen-year-old Diane Lane finds romance with a French boy who loves everything American, especially its films. They meet on the set of a movie that just happens to be shot by Lauren’s (Lane’s) father. It’s love at first sight for the teenagers and they agree to meet later in Paris. Renowned actor Laurence Olivier hams it up as the lovable old codger who buys the kids hot chocolate and weaves romantic stories about his own beloved wife, among others. Sweet and innocent, not for the cynics among us. Definitely not the movie “Thirteen”.
Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and Valmont (1989)
Both movies are based on the same French novel but have a different flavour about them, probably because of the different direction by Stephen Frears and Milos Forman, respectively. Jaded aristocrats, played by Glenn Close and (a miscast) John Malcovich in the 1988 film, and Annette Bening and (a better cast) Colin Firth in the 1989 film, compete to seduce and ruin the innocent, just for the fun of it. But falling in love with one's intended victim does ruin the best-laid plans. Why not watch both and decide which is better?