Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bed Envy

Despite Nora Ephron's best efforts, it's been a long time since Betty liked a move in part (or in full!) because she wanted to live inside of it. But the old feeling is back big time with today's in-bed screening of Irma La Douce, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, and produced, written and directed by Billy Wilder. The music is by Andre Previn.

Like all of Wilder's films (except for the pessimistic Ace in the Hole), the film is zingy and knowing. However, this is the first color Wilder film Betty has ever seen, and what a difference it makes! Just as Mary Poppins and Oliver! made the occupations of housecleaner/babysitter and street waif seem fun, Irma's title character is a prostitute with the best apartment, and in particular the best bed (she doesn't take her clients here, but sees them in the hotel down the street) Betty has ever seen on film, or elsewhere. It has deep turquoise circles roped in beautiful vines and tiny pink flowers, which all fuse in a pink steel shell-shape over her pillows. She also has a sweet old alcoholic dog, Coquette, whom she takes with her everywhere in Wilder's Hollywood Paris. Both Irma and Coquette only wear aqua-green clothing, which match the lovely plants hanging in Irma's studio, as well as the leaves on the floral-print wallpaper. The other streetwalkers dress like pleasing wallpaper samples as well, and even Jack Lemmon's early morning shifts in the Parisian meat market allure the eye and the part of the brain that fantasizes, or at least dreams in color.

When did cartoonish urbanity in Hollywood films become so boring?

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