OnFilm online:Paris vu par Hollywood

November 20, 2012

PARIS — One of our rules of travel is that you don’t spend precious moments of vacation standing in line. And so it took us a couple of attempts to make it inside the Paris vu par Hollywood (Paris seen by Hollywood) exposition at the Hôtel de Ville. The first time we aborted our mission when we realized there was approximately a two-hour wait to get inside the exhibit. We made it on our second attempt — it took only about 20 minutes.

(And while your monkey is quite aware that at most Paris museums he can gain immediate entrance to the exhibit simply by flashing his laminated press card (and he is not above doing just that), Mrs. Monkey is no longer in possession of a laminated press card — though me and the inkjet printer intend to remedy that before our next trip abroad).

You might divine that it’s an enjoyable exhibit from the clip above (the French weren’t allowing cameras when we visited, so I wonder if the footage was shot surreptiously) if not terribly enlightening for anyone conversant with cinematic history. It’s a survey course on Paris in the movies. It’s fun. The exposition focuses on Hollywood’s romanticized view of Paris, with still photos and film clips from about 100 of themovies about or set in Paris — shot on location or on backlot sets. The films range from The Girl from Paris, made by the Edison Manufacturing Company in 1900, to last year’s Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen, including along the way movies by Ernst Lubitsch, George Cukor, John Huston, Howard Hawks, Vincente Minnelli, Stanley Donen, Billy Wilder, Robert Altman and many others. Nearly 400 documents, from French and American archives, such as the French Cinematheque, the Oscars Library (Margareth Herrick Library), Warner Archive and private collections, are also on display.

Paris is the foreign city represented the most often in Hollywood cinema with, over the past century, an estimated eight hundred American films set — though not necessarily filmed — there. Until the 1950s, Paris was reconstituted in the studios of the United States.In the 1950s, American directors finally began shooting films in Paris, which became a playground for many of them (Blake Edwards, Stanley Donen, Alfred Hitchcock…). During the 1980s, Paris became the place for big budget action and detective films. Admission is free.

Hôtel de Ville, Salle Saint-Jean, 5 rue Lobau, 4th, Métro: Hôtel de Ville. Sept 18–Dec 15. Open daily except Sundays and holidays, 10 am to 7 pm.

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