Sunday, January 17, 2010
"Paris, it's all so wonderful and exciting," Ann-Margret gushes as she cruises past preposterously fake sets inside an MGM soundstage, "postcards don't do it justice!" Trying hard to seem like this movie's Good Girl Who Longs to Go Bad in Paree (but coming across instead, as in all her '60s movies, like a Go-Go Girl Gone Hollywood), she coos while being wooed on a tacky mock-up of a Seine riverbank, "It's all so lovely and unexpected --" then bats her six-inch-long false eyelashes at Louis Jourdan, and whispers, "Please don't make fun of me!" But who can help it? Made in Paris exists to be chortled over, for, like all the very best Bad Movies, it thrusts forward its obvious deficiencies, as if sporting them flashily -- like a zircon-encrusted ring -- might deceive the viewer into thinking they're anything other than dementedly funny.
Nowhere is this more true than in the film's splashy fashion show, since it's a Bad Movie fact that giving lots of screen time to the deliriously dreadful couture of talented-costume-designers-run-amok is always a surefire laugh-getter. With Made in Paris, designer Helen Rose leaped onto our list of first-class offenders, which includes Moss Mabry (The Love Machine) and Edith Head (Lucy Gallant), among others. You'll guffaw while watching A-M, cast here as a fashion buyer, solemnly viewing the long parade of couturier Jourdan's fashion disasters, while Jourdan intones such indispensable tidbits as, "I believe the woman enters the room first, then the gown." (Funny, we'd always thought they more or less showed up together.)
The costume designer isn't the only criminal on the loose here, however -- not for nothing does one screen credit announce, "Special hairstyles by Sydney Guilaroff." Yes, well, "special" is one way to describe the two-story coiffures that A-M must balance on her head while dancing the frug.
Whenever A-M finishes dancing and starts acting again, it's clear that screenwriter Stanley Roberts is at the forefront of the contributors who ought to be lined up and shot. Ready for samples of his dialogue? "I'd like to be judged by what I do between 9:30 and 5:30," A-M snaps after her boss, Chad Everett, gets amorous, "not after hours!" In another scene, Edie Adams advises A-M, "Pay no attention to all that hand-kissing jazz -- the only difference between a Paris salon and a Seventh Avenue showroom is the accent." When Jourdan proposes that they have an affair, A-M gasps, "What gave you the idea that I'd consider such a thing?" His reply is one for the ages: "Do you know what you really want? A thrilling evening of almosts--almost romance, almost love, almost sex!" When A-M wails to reporter Richard Crenna, "They think I'm a swinger!" we long to tell her, "No, that's another Bad A-M Movie We Adore."
It all ends, as unintentionally funny sex farces did back in 1966, with A-M being saved from a Fate Worse Than Death by Everett, who offers marriage and the suburban safety of a station wagon filled with sheepdogs -- and he's not kidding, they're right outside! They drive away, leaving us to ponder a remark made earlier by Everett's father: "If this girl is as respectable as you say," he asked Everett, "why are you interested in her?" Search us.
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