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Monday, December 19, 2011

The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954)

At the end of WWII in Paris, a G.I. (Van Johnson) meets an attractive American (Donna Reed) in a bar but when he meets her sister (Elizabeth Taylor), it's love at first sight. Based on the short story BABYLON REVISITED by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the film has been updated from its 1920s "lost generation" setting to post WWII Paris. Yet the setting seems wrong because the characters themselves still feel like they walked out of his TENDER IS THE NIGHT. That aside, the film remains a glossy and lush melodrama of a free spirit (Taylor) mismatched with a buttoned down newsman (Johnson, the film's only weak link). Taylor is at her most movie goddess beautiful here and looks terrific in her Helen Rose gowns. In contrast, Reed overdoes the bottled up, resentful sister. The Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein song The Last Time I Saw Paris is lovely but overused in the underscore to the point of distraction. It could use a remake but this time utilizing the original 1920s setting. Directed by Richard Brooks. With Walter Pidgeon, Roger Moore, Eva Gabor, George Dolenz, Kurt Kasznar, Sandy Descher, Celia Lovsky, John Doucette and Ann Codee.

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