The Last Time I Saw Paris is a 1954 #Romantic Drama made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.It is loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story "Babylon Revisited." It was directed by Richard Brooks, produced by Jack Cummings and filmed on locations in Paris and the MGM backlot. The screenplay was by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Richard Brooks.
The film starred Elizabeth Taylor and Van Johnson in his last role for MGM, with Walter Pidgeon, Donna Reed, Eva Gabor, Kurt Kasznar, George Dolenz, Sandy Descher, Odette, and (a then-unknown) Roger Moore in his Hollywood debut.
The film's title song, by composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, was already a classic when the movie was made and inspired the movie's title. Though the song had already won an Oscar after its film debut in 1941's Lady Be Good, it is featured much more prominently in The Last Time I Saw Paris. It can be heard in many scenes, either being sung by Odette or being played as an instrumental.
Paris, France. After the success of his first book, famous American writer Charles Wills (Van Johnson) returns to Paris, and visits a local cafe named Café Dhingo where he chats with the bartender about his life. Charles flashes back to his past....
In May 1945, just as World War II was ending in Europe, Charles was on the streets of Paris, covering the city-wide V-E celebration. He was suddenly grabbed by the most beautiful woman he ever saw, she kissed him on the lips and disappeared.
Charles followed the crowd to Café Dhingo and met another pretty woman named Marion Ellswirth (Donna Reed). The mutual attraction was instant, and he was invited to join the party her father was throwing in celebration of the end of the war. Charles, Marion, and her persistent French suitor Claude Matine (George Dolenz) arrived at the Ellswirth household, only to find that the woman who kissed Charles was Marion's younger sister Helen (Elizabeth Taylor).
During drinks, Charles learned that Marion and Helen's father, James Ellswirth (Walter Pidgeon), came out of World War I alive and promptly joined the drifter generation. Unlike most drifters, he never grew out of it; even went as far as raising his two daughters to desire such lifestyle. Helen took after her father and used her beauty to sustain a life of luxury even though James was flat broke. Marion went the other way, and looked for serious-minded and conventional young men such as Claude the aspiring prosecutor and Charles the future novelist.
Charles and Helen fell in love and started dating. After Helen recovered from a near-death case of pneumonia from being out in the rain, they got married and settled in Paris. James had hoped that Helen would marry rich, but having taken a liking to Charles, he good-naturedly joined the happy family of Charles. One year later, Helen got pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, whom they name Vickie. Marion, having lost Charles to Helen, agreed to marry Claude around the same time.
They also each took on other interests: Helen started to flirt with handsome English tennis player named Paul Lane (Roger Moore). Charles asked professional divorcee Lorraine Quarl (Eva Gabor) to join him as he competed in a local Paris-to-Monte Carlo race.
After the race, Charles returned to Paris to patch things up with Helen, only to find her sitting in Café Dhingo with Paul. A fight broke out between Paul and Charles, an angry Charles went home first and bolted the door. Helen ended up having to walk all way to Marion's place in the snow. She caught pneumonia again and this time... she didn't make it. Charles hears about her hospitalization the next day and races to the hospital to be at her side when she dies.
After Helen's funeral, Marion petitioned for and got full custody of Vickie, Charles went back to his hometown of to Milwaukee to deal with the loss of both his wife and daughter.
A few years later in the present day 1954, having straightened out his life and quit drinking, Charles returns to Paris (where the movie begins) and finished telling his story to the Café Dhingo bartender. Charles then goes to Marion's house, hoping that his reformation would have softened Marion, and give nine-year-old Vickie (Sandy Descher) back to him. Still feeling resentful towards Charles for having fallen for Helen instead of her, Marion refuses. Seeing that Charles and Vickie belong together, Claude finally stepped in and told Marion off.
In the final scene, Marion and Claude bring Vickie to Café Dhingo to look for Charles. And in front of the painting of Helen, the family is finally reunited again. Charles and Vickie then walk off together to go back to America.
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