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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ooo-La-La On Columbia's Backlot

Paris Model (1953) Is Strictly Off The Rack

The progress of a Paris dress that graces a quartet of wearers, each displaying hubris the garment itself seems to provoke. Do good clothes make people do bad things? Eva Gabor uses the creation to ensnare maharajah Tom Conway, but is trumped by Laurette Luez. Paulette Goddard wants it toward stealing office employer Leif Erickson from a dowdy wife, who checkmates PG by donning the same outfit. Marilyn Maxwell dresses to seduce her husband's boss Cecil Kellaway (be warned ... they kiss), and finally, good girl Barbara Lawrence is tempted by turbaned Conway to ditch fiancĂ©e Robert Hutton, the nightspot they visit none other than cheap-rendered soundstage knock-off of "Prince" Michael Romanoff's famed Hollywood eatery, where Bogey used to 50's-go for ham and eggs. Paris Model is miserly cheap, produced by Albert Zugsmith, and itself a knock-off of Tales Of Manhattan from ten years before. You may watch, as I did, with grim fascination for has-beens and never-weres plunged to basement level. Single-day thesping abounds: El Brendel yumpin' at yiminys as ever, a sickly Florence Bates in her final feature appearance, and of course, poor Tom Conway, who seems confused as to why he's here at all. Paris Model is as punishing as must have been case for Columbia when domestic rentals came to but $195K. All in all, an absolute must-see. There are occasional sightings on TCM, whose transfer is excellent. I hope Columbia On-Demand will release this on DVD.


Blogger The Metzinger Sisters said...

This sounds like a great film. I love those man-hunting women's pictures of the 1950s. Thanks for introducing me to a title I never even heard of.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Never heard of it! You make this close-out clearance item sound mighty tempting! And yeah, just reading the cast names makes me smile (Marilyn Maxwell billed over Paulette Goddard... ha!) Let's hope this one pops up as a made-to-order soon!

9:03 AM  
Blogger iarla said...

I'm interested in major stars whose fall from grace was as unexpected as it was instant - but Paulette Goddard deserves a special prize in this regard. Others fled - Luise Rainer, Deanna Durbin - and the changing tastes of the post war era did not favour the likes of Garson, Sheridan, Fontaine, Lamour,or Lake- but one gets the impression that Goddard would like to have remained at least awhile longer, though she did accept the decline in her fortunes in high good humour. That Davis, Crawford, Hayworth, Turner, and a few of the other clever ladies endured as long as they did (in admittedly gradually declining vehicles) is testament to a stamina and career drive Paulette seemingly abandoned at this point in her life.

12:32 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Craig Reardon has some interesting takes on "Paris Model," Paulette Goddard and related make-up folk:

Your review of "Paris Model" is the instigation. This is 'classic' John McElwee writing. You paint a perfect picture of a real bomb in every detail and then cap it with, "This is an absolute must-see!" And we understand completely! And what I like about your take on old movies is that although you're copping here to the kind of car wreck rubber-necking that far too many old movies afford unintentionally (though I doubt Albert Zugsmith gave a damn one way or the other!), I also know you love those old timers the same as I do and you feel for them as much as you can't help being tempted, at least, to mockery when they have to sell outdated or badly manufactured goods, as in this apparent tainted turkey.

I respond to a couple of things on the sadistic end of it, and that's the image of Paulette Goddard for one, a lady who sometimes seems to have had a shorter shelf life in movies than equivalent beauties, already looking 'old' by the mid-to-late 1940s after only REALLY launching on film via paramour Chaplin's "Modern Times" in the mid-'30s. (From paramour to Paramount...!)

Then, the kind of chubby-cheeked image of Robert Hutton, on the poster. My darling daughter Dana (alliteration alert, too late) and I both enjoy the old WB corn-on-the-cob "Hollywood Canteen", which is both semi-egregious and strangely touching. Hutton in that is almost an early Jimmy Stewart clone, and incredibly naturalistic in his acting. So much so, in fact, that when I first saw it I almost wondered if they'd recruited an actual soldier! But, man, did he ever lose that particular image and allure, soon thereafter, gaining weight and sporting an not-particularly-helpful mustache. I haven't actually toted up a great number of viewings of his subsequent film work, for good reasons, but I did happen to see "Cinderfella" (which certainly sort-of helps chart his descent!) when it was new in '59 or '60, I frankly forget which. (He was one of the evil/oafish 'evil step brothers' in this riff, as you probably know; ironically I later worked with the other one, Henry Silva, on "Dick Tracy" in '89.)

I also worked with a good [female] hairdresser some twenty years ago who regaled me with stories of working on stuff like "Sex Kitten Goes to College", I think it was called, which was (I hope I'm not wrong?) produced by the philistine Zugsmith. She even referred to him by name, so one assumes he did not remain in his office all the time, though he may only have come to set to ogle the dames! And even this hairdresser herself was pretty cute back then, based on a later photograph I saw of her. But, like Paulette Goddard you might say, she too was mortal and got older, and I met her then.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Gotta follow up on my follow up after reading Craig Reardon's astute observations about Robert Hutton's transformation (well, I call 'em 'astute' since I've wondered about the same thing myself for years!) In 1943's DESTINATION TOKYO rail thin Hutton's Jimmy Stewart-ness in appearance and manner teeters on parody! Not sure how his co-stars like Cary Grant kept a straight face. But by the end of the decade, he looks and acts like a totally different guy. And by the time he was making genre cheapies like SLIME PEOPLE and THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE... well, one can't wrap one's brain around the fact that this puffy faced slicker was once a ringer for Tom Destry!

9:20 AM  

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