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  • "Paris Interude" is just a factory-line MGM programmer despite it's origins from an S.J. Perelman play. This "Paris" is little more than a bar set with the occasional scene in an apartment or office. Otto Kruger is a World War I "hero" (losing one arm in the war) now a famous newspaper reporter. Trouble is the hero has little honor and literally steals stories in addition to having other people write them uncredited. He also steals girls like American tourist Madge Evans, a new romance of Robert Young's. Young "hero worships" Kruger and gladly writes his stories and steps aside so Kruger can have Evans, much to the disgust of mutual acquaintance, magazine illustrator Una Merkel, the only person who sees Kruger for what he is. Madge falls in love with Otto who is only toying with her and leaves her high and dry once he gets an offer to cover a story out of the country. Crushed and penniless, Madge is befriended by Una who gets her a job writing of Paris fashion shows for American magazines and cheered by Robert, who now realizes he is in love with her. Madge, however, is still pining for Otto but when the news comes that he his plane has been shot down in China and he is listed as dead, a devastated Madge leans more heavily on Robert and eventually falls for him as well and they plan to marry. Meanwhile, Una receives a disturbing telegram...

    This romantic melodrama (with several nice comic Perelman bits) is fairly predictable at every turn and not particularly helped by the cast with the notable exception of Una Merkel, who is always a delight, here as the good friend who knows men like the back of her hand. Madge Evans is quite attractive but she's a rather lightweight actress and screen personality; it's hard to understand why MGM gave her so many more opportunities than the more talented Karen Morley or the more charismatic Anita Page. Otto Kruger was a middle-aged character actor whom MGM briefly considered star material but he's rather theatrical here, most especially in his "sick" sequence where he uses the same tiresome low-scratchy voice shtick he does in THE WOMEN IN HIS LIFE from this same period. Robert Young, on the other hand, is quite good as as the playful but heartsick friend dealing trying to deal with an unrequited love. "Paris Interlude" is a decidedly minor MGM film perilously close to a "B" movie and in truth deserves no better a grade than a C.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    'Paris Interlude' is based on a play by S.J. Perelman and his wife Laura (nee Weinstein). Laura Perelman's chief claim to fame was that she was the sister of the grossly overrated cult author Nathanael West. S.J. Perelman is remembered for co-authoring two Marx Brothers movies and 'Around the World in 80 Days', for which he won an Oscar (which he used as a doorstop). In my opinion, S.J. Perelman is the greatest author in the history of the written word, but that greatness is conveyed in his brief humour pieces ('feuillettes', he called them) in the New Yorker magazine. Perelman's stage plays are negligible, and most of his screenplays are no better.

    'Paris Interlude' takes place on the Left Bank of that city, but all the main characters are American expats with brittle sophistication. Julie Bell is attracted to Pat Wells, a genial toper who will probably never amount to anything. She realises she'd do better to marry Sam Colt, a macho war correspondent who lost his left arm during a previous assignment. When Colt goes off to cover the war in China (there's always a war in China), Julie stays in Paree to become a fashion reporter until Colt's return. She makes the acquaintance of Cassie Bond, a wisecracking clothes designer. (I'm astonished that any American would move to Paris to become a fashion designer, with any expectation of beating the French at their own game ... but plausibility is not this film's strong suit.) When Colt is reported killed in action, Julie reluctantly accepts a marriage proposal from Rex Fleming, a pompous golf pro.

    The best things in 'Paris Interlude' are two supporting performances. Ted Healy shines as the wisecracking publican of the Brass Monkey, the American bar where all the expats soak up the atmosphere (among other things). The great character actor Edward Brophy is a notch below his usual standard as Ham Farnsworth, a befuddled Yank reporter whose editor has assigned him to go to Russia to cover the brilliantly successful five-year plan. Brophy's character seems to have been inspired by Walter Duranty, the N.Y. Times correspondent who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reports about the wonderful land reforms in the Soviet Union. It's now known that Duranty lied about genocides and famines in the Ukraine, and recently (as I write this) his Pulitzer was posthumously rescinded. But Duranty was a deliberate liar, whereas Brophy's character in this movie is just a poor sap who doesn't know what to believe. Still, he's funny. I wish I could say as much for Una Merkel ... who has never impressed me in any film, and who here does her usual turn (with her annoying voice) as the dame who's seen it all, dearie.

    SPOILERS COMING NOW. It's no surprise that Colt's death turns out to be a false report. Meanwhile, Robert Young (as Pat Wells) shows up on Julie's balcony, stripped to his skivvies. This is one of those annoying movies in which the heroine turns down a reliable guy in favour of a happy-go-lucky jerk whose only assets are his good looks and a charming manner ... and we're supposed to approve her choice. Robert Young and dull Madge Evans are no good in the leads. Otto Kruger (an underrated actor) gives a good performance as Colt, but must contend with some bad camera angles as he tries to conceal the fact that he's a two-armed actor playing an amputee with one arm stuffed into his coat. Still, Kruger does a better job here (concealing his left arm throughout the entire film) than Wallace Beery did (also playing an amputee) concealing his right arm for two-thirds of "O'Shaughnessy's Boy".

    I really wanted to like this film, due to my tremendous admiration for S.J. Perelman. But the best I can give 'Paris Interlude' is 5 out of 10. The biggest flaw in this movie is that - except for Ted Healy's bartender - there isn't a single character here whom I'd actually want to meet.
  • Of course Paris Interlude never got closer to France than MGM's back lot. It was highly doubtful that MGM would have laid out a lot of money for a B film taken from a flop play.

    Laura Perelman's play All Good Americans is about a Parisian expatriate company of hard partying Americans who work at all kinds of occupations to pay the rent. It ran only 40 performances on Broadway the year before and among other people in the cast in a small part was James Stewart. I half expected F. Scott Fitzgerald to pop up in a supporting role in the film.

    But the film centers around Otto Kruger with Madge Evans who's in love with him and Robert Young whom he mentors in the foreign correspondent trade. He's kind of sort of promised to marry Evans, but leaves her flat with Robert Young to comfort her while he's been transferred to American, then China.

    Need I say more than eventually the course of true love takes its course in this rather sappy and old fashioned romantic melodrama.

    Best in this film is Una Merkel, gal pal to Evans who's the only one who sees everything clearly and offers sound advice to one and all.

    Not the best work for any of the cast except maybe Merkel.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Copyright 19th July 1934 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. New York opening simultaneously at the Capitol and Loew's Metropolitan: 27 July 1934. Australian release: 6 February 1935. 73 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: A group of Americans in Paris regularly drink at Jimmy's Bar. The group includes the charismatic newspaperman, Sam Coll (Otto Kruger); young-man-about-town, Pat Wells (Robert Young); charming reporter, Julie Bell (Madge Evans); and sarcastic sob sister, Cassie (Una Merkel). Pat is in love with Julie, but she idolizes Sam. When Sam is assigned to China, Julie is heartbroken even though Sam promises to marry her on his return.

    NOTES: The play opened on Broadway at the Henry Miller on 5th December, 1933. Following unenthusiastic reviews ("Neither the plot, acting nor dialogue can pull this thin story of American expatriates in Paris, into the ranks of even the moderately worthwhile." - Theatre Arts), the play closed after 39 performances. Hope Williams, Fred Keating, Eric Dressler, Mary Philips and the then rather youngish James Stewart were in the cast. Arthur Sircom directed for producer Courtney Burr.

    COMMENT: Madge Evans and Otto Kruger are two of my favorites. And I must admit that I've always liked confident but unassuming Robert Young. Put all three players together and you've got a winner before the narrative even starts. And this turns out to be a fascinating story, peopled with realistically interesting characters.

    Despite his prominent billing, Kruger's key role actually turns out to be quite small. Yet he is absolutely marvelous. In fact, he tops his brilliant performance in Beauty for Sale. Robert Young is not outdone either, managing to carry the film quite ably during Kruger's long absence. Miss Evans, of course, is as charmingly desirable as ever, making her attachment to Kruger not only seem believable but inevitable.

    A thankfully more-restrained-than-usual Una Merkel heads a first-rate support cast, ably handled by under-rated director Edwin L. Marin, who, in collaboration with his brilliant photographer, Milton Krasner, brings both style and pace to this first-rate M-G-M gem.