Irma La Douce, 1963

Jack Lemmon stars as Nestor Patou the policeman, Nestor the pimp, and Lord X the wealthy man who visits Irma occasionally.

Shirley MacLaine stars as Irma La Douce. Only one role for her. That’s all she needed to keep this movie tumbling forward through the ups and downs of her romance with Nestor.

This movie, set on a Paris street full of prostitutes, features Nestor masquerading as an elderly English lord to keep her from working the street by paying her a substantial amount for her “services”. It’s the only way he can think of to keep his girlfriend to himself. However, he’s using borrowed money and must work to pay it back while Irma sleeps.

The poor hero can’t keep up the ruse for long because of his need for sleep. She sees him coming home after she’s already awake and guesses he’s been seeing someone else. He won’t tell her he’s really been sacrificing his sleep so she wouldn’t have to work the street with the rest of the prostitutes.

Then she comes up with the idea to run away with Lord X, and Nestor realizes she’s going to leave him. So he throws the Lord X disguise in the river. But he’s seen leaving the river, yelling at the half-sunk clothes, and he’s arrested for murdering Lord X.

There’s a happy ending to this movie, directed by Billy Wilder, which ties up the loose ends and feels like a sweet dessert after the main course. Good ol' Nestor gets to be a real hero instead of down-trodden and overlooked.

I love Jack Lemmon. His acting is full of humor and charm. I couldn’t help but be moved at his character’s love for Irma and his sacrifice to free her of a job she didn’t need.

The film gave James Caan his debut performance and gave Bill Bixby a role as a tattooed sailor.

Were any of the Academy Awards thrown their way? Yes: Andre Previn for Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment. Shirley MacLaine was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, but she won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical or Comedy.

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