The Last Time I Saw Paris


Drama / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 70% · 10 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 49% · 2.5K ratings
IMDb Rating 6.1/10 10 4270 4.3K


Top cast

Elizabeth Taylor as Helen Ellswirth
Roger Moore as Paul Lind
Walter Pidgeon as James Ellswirth
Angela Stevens as Pert Young Girl
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.04 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 56 min
Seeds 6
1.93 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 56 min
Seeds 8

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bmacv 6 / 10

False and dated Fitzgerald but hard to resist nonetheless

Advancing F. Scott Fitzgerald's Babylon Revisited from the jazz-age Paris of the 'Lost Generation' to the late 1940s and early 1950s looks logical enough, one World War being much like another, but a certain piquant period flavor gets lost. The madcap behaviors and post-Victorian motivations that made sense in the age of corset-free flappers and expatriate wastrels seem dated in the more efficient, streamlined age of jet travel. The way the characters ruminate about life back home in the United States, you'd think they'd colonized Mars rather than taken lodgings near the Eiffel Tower.

Amid the city-wide orgy of V-E Day, Army correspondent Van Johnson meets two sisters: Donna Reed, who gives him the eye, and Elizabeth Taylor, who catches his. Their happy-go-lucky father (Walter Pidgeon) isn't rich but lives like it ('It's cheaper that way,' Taylor explains). Taylor and Johnson marry, have a daughter, and party in an upper-crust social whirl, while he types out multiple drafts of The Great American Novel. How they (or Pidgeon) can afford their high life goes unmentioned, and when they suddenly come into money, thanks to some Texas oil wells that start gushing, there's little detectable change in the texture of their lives.

Except for disaffection. Johnson drinks more heavily as the rejection slips pile up (Pidgeon advises him that the secret to success is mediocrity). Taylor starts ditching the kid at bistros while she's off jumping into fountains. Three sheets to the wind, Johnson speeds off in his sports-car with Eva Gabor riding shotgun, but his reckless driving comes to naught (twice). Both partners play at adultery but never actually engage in it. Occasionally Reed, a frosty smile frozen on her face, pops up to register her smouldering resentment against Johnson. But then Taylor, of such delicate constitution that she has been known to contract 'flu not from microbes but from a gentle rain, gets soaked to the skin when she's locked out of the house at dawn and slogs her way through the slush...

Given these melodramatic excesses, Richard Brooks keeps the movie refreshingly low-key; he draws a subdued and affecting performance from Taylor (at the dizzying pinnacle of her young beauty). There are some missteps (Johnson having a drunken argument with himself; Roger Moore as a tennis-pro gigolo; a comfy wrap-up that comes off as forced and abrupt), but Brooks keeps the proceedings passably watchable. This heady, romanticized peek into the life of Americans abroad has its allure, and, though you don't believe it for a minute, it makes you want to sip a Pastis and light up a Gitane.

Reviewed by SimonJack 5 / 10

A heavy melodrama, well below its cast capabilities

"The Last Time I Saw Paris" was a hit in 1954-55, mostly because of the rising super star, Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor was the lead female, Helen Ellswirth, but her role and part in the story were second to the male lead, Charles Wills, played by Van Johnson. The fact that the 22-year-old Taylor was billed ahead of Johnson shows her star status and MGM's promo to cash in on the movie.

While it was a success at the box office - bringing in just under $5 million on a budget just under $2 million, the film finished 36th for the year. Considering its star content that included Walter Pidgeon, Donna Reed, Eva Gabor, and the rising Roger Moore, "The Last Time I Saw Paris" might have finished much better. There were many good movies in 1954, the year that "White Christmas" topped them all at the box office, and got just one Academy Award nomination. It was also the year of "Rear Window," "The Caine Mutiny," "The Glenn Miller Story," "On the Waterfront," "Magnificent Obsession," and a host of musicals, comedy romances, dramas, Westerns and war films that all fared better than this film.

Other reviewers have noted the characteristic of this film that sets it back. It's heavy melodrama, fodder for the daytime TV soap operas that were airing at the time. It's slow and drawn out. And, the fact that the main cast are almost all dysfunctional characters, puts a moribund pall over the film. It even starts off that way. So, the gaiety and excitement of the main period in the life of Charles Wills (Van Johnson) and Helen Ellswirth (Elizabeth Taylor) don't come off as fun at all. More pall descends on the film.

Walter Pidgeon's James Ellswirth interjects some light comedy in his hedonistic, irresponsible character. A young Roger Moore has the role of a tennis bum gigolo, Paul. And the capable Donna Reed is seen mostly as a sour, snippy woman with a huge secret that she can't hide from her husband, Claude Matine (George Dolenz), or the audience.

Van Johnson's role is strange, and one can't imagine why Helen would fall for him. Except for a little smiling and openness early, his character becomes moribund through most of the film. There are no exceptional or even very good portrayals in the film - perhaps Taylor's is the best as just okay.

I think this film had possibility, but the writers would need to put some life and spunk into Johnson's Wills. His self-pity wears very thin very fast; then his alcoholism and the very strange marital relationship of the two weighs down this film.

I strain to give the film five stars, so that's a credit as much to the decent but minor portrayal by Pidgeon. As the totally irresponsible head of the Ellswirth family, his witty philosophy at times provides the only spark for this film.

Here are the best lines of this movie, set in Paris just after the end of World War II.

James Ellswirth, "Your sister has made me very proud. We couldn't tell you the good news before, but Helen has been expelled from the university."

James Ellsworth, "Oh, now look, let her alone. After all, I was expelled from Harvard once, and why shouldn't a girl follow in her father's footsteps?"

Helen Ellswirth, "We're not rich either. We just live that way. Daddy says it the same thing, only it's much cheaper."

Helen Ellswirth, "Daddy says, it isn't what you have, it's what you owe."

James Ellswirth, "Helen getting married. Marion getting married. Father abandoned in middle age." Exhales, "Hmph. What man could ask for more?"

Charles Wills, "Is it Sunday already? What happened to Friday and Saturday?"

Charles Wills: "What'd I do?" Helen Ellswirth, "That, I'd be very interested to know."

Charles Wills: "Well, where are you going?" Helen, "To do something important - buy a new hat."

Reviewed by bkoganbing 6 / 10

The Last Time, the billing was reversed

The Last Time I Saw Paris was the second of two films that Elizabeth Taylor and Van Johnson co-starred. What a difference in four years from The Big Hangover where Johnson was billed ahead of Taylor.

Which is odd in this case because the film is really about Johnson. It's based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's story, Babylon Revisited which takes place in Paris after World War I. MGM apparently thinking that the audience would be more amenable to a story taking place after World War II, so the plot was updated for France of the Fourth Republic.

It doesn't quite work though, France of that era was a whole lot different than France of the Roaring Twenties. They partied then also when Paris was liberated and the Germans chased out of their country, but on the whole it was a time for more sober reflection of what France's role in the post war world would be. The Roaring Twenties that Fitzgerald wrote about were not the Roaring Forties.

Van Johnson is a GI who comes upon a family of expatriates who lived in Paris right through the occupation. Walter Pidgeon and his two daughters, Donna Reed and Elizabeth Taylor. They both are interested, but Johnson has eyes only for Liz. And the film is their story.

It's a tragic story, you can see Fitzgerald himself in Van Johnson, the would be writer who becomes a dissolute playboy. Partying right along with him is Taylor who is the image of Fitzgerald's party girl wife Zelda.

MGM did this one on the cheap. There are some shots of Paris, but on the whole the Paris you see is the Paris that was created by the studio for their classic musical An American in Paris. View the films side by side and you'll have no doubt.

Look for Eva Gabor as a divorcée who likes Johnson and a very young Roger Moore as a tennis pro who'd like to be a kept man by Taylor.

It's a nice story, but it could have been a whole lot better if MGM had actually shot the film in Paris completely and really set in the period it was written.

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