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A war correspondent who was stationed in Paris during WW II married a French girl who was murdered by the Nazis. After the war he returns to to try to find his son, whom he lost during a bombing raid but has been told is living in an orphanage in Paris.
nIn October 1948, while flying to Paris, American Bill Wainwright re-reads the telegram sent to him by his friend, Pierre Verdier, encouraging him to come to France, and recalls events leading up to the trip: In the summer of 1938, Bill is working as a radio reporter in Paris when he meets French singer Lisa Garret. Mutually attracted, Bill and Lisa begin dating and are soon married. On the same day that Lisa gives birth to a son, Germany invades Holland, and Bill, now a war correspondent, is advised to get Lisa and the baby out of the country. Because of her difficult labor, however, Lisa cannot be moved for several days, so Bill leaves on an assignment at the front. Bill is wounded and sent to England, and by the time he recuperates, France has fallen to the Nazis. While continuing to report from London, Bill, frustrated in his attempts to reach Lisa, monitors her performances on Nazi-controlled French radio. During one broadcast, her singing is cut off, and Bill later learns that she was shot by the Gestapo for sending messages to the Resistance through her songs. Bill also discovers that after Lisa's death, their son, Johnny, was turned over to a member of the Resistance. After a fruitless search for Johnny, Bill returns to live in the States. Back in the present, Bill lands in Paris and goes with Pierre to a tracing service. There, Bill is directed to see Mme. Quilleboeuf, a laundress who, during the war, worked with a priest to keep orphans out of the Nazis' hands. After Mme. Quilleboeuf tells Bill about a young boy she cared for and then sent to a small-town orphanage, he heads for the town. At the Catholic orphanage, the seemingly tough Mother Superior warns Bill not to get too emotional about the boy, but to study him carefully. The Mother Superior then introduces Bill to Jean, a thin, pale eight-year-old, calling Bill a friend of Mme. Quilleboeuf, whom Jean knows as his grandmother. As instructed, Bill studies Jean while they stroll through town, but finds little that is familiar about him. After promising to take Jean to see the elephants at the circus, Bill escorts the boy back to the orphanage. There the Mother Superior persuades Bill to go with Jean to Paris to see if he recognizes anything from his son's known past, noting that smells are especially memorable to children. On the train to Paris, Bill gives Jean a pair of gloves, his first present, and even though they are too small for him, Jean covets them. When Jean then mentions that he does not know his birthday, Bill suggests that he use his brother's, which he claims is the next day. Later, at Jean and Bill's Paris hotel, Pierre questions Bill about his love life. Although Bill denies that he is still grieving for Lisa, Pierre knows better and advises his friend to stop dwelling on the past. Bill then sings Jean a nonsense song that Lisa's father had taught her, but Jean does not recognize it. The next day, Bill, Jean and Pierre go to see Mme. Quilleboeuf, and while she and Jean become reacquainted, Pierre mentions to Bill that he has arranged for them to visit the apartment where he and Lisa used to live, which is now occupied by an American Air Force lieutenant. Recalling the unusual perfume that Lisa liked to wear, Bill then takes Jean to a perfumerie and has him sniff the scent. When Jean remembers smelling the perfume on a woman who used to hold and sing to him, Bill is ecstatic and takes the boy to see the elephants at the zoo. Afterward, they visit the lieutenant, and Jean points out several familiar sights in the apartment. When Jean recalls looking out the window at the bike shop, however, Bill's face falls, and he makes an excuse to leave. Bill goes back to Mme. Quilleboeuf's and, noting that the bike shop is new, accuses her of coaching Jean. The laundress admits that she told Jean what to say, but angrily justifies her actions by pointing out the desperate poverty that Jean must endure. Crushed, Bill returns Jean to the orphanage, where the Mother Superior criticizes Bill's lack of empathy. After Bill says he needs time to consider whether to adopt Jean, he wanders around the village and winds up at a cafe. There, he runs into Nelly, the hotel proprietor's flirtatious niece, who suggests that he go to Paris with her that evening. Bill agrees, then lets Nelly drag him to a carnival shooting gallery, where he wins a stuffed dog that looks exactly like Binky, a toy dog he once won for Lisa. Before leaving for Paris, Bill, who has written a dismissive letter to the Mother Superior, tells Pierre that he has to go on searching for Johnny. Pierre denounces Bill for being a slave to the past and avoiding the grim truth about Lisa's death. Determined to force Bill to lay Lisa to rest, Pierre then reads aloud the witness report describing her execution, which Bill had earlier refused to look at. Numb with pain, Bill orders Pierre to leave and sends his letter and the stuffed dog to the orphanage. At the train station, however, Bill recalls a nightmare that Lisa had had while pregnant, in which she was tormented by the cries of a little lost boy she was powerless to help. Finally realizing what he must do, Bill returns to the orphanage, arriving just as the Mother Superior is giving Jean the stuffed dog. Like an old friend, Jean embraces the dog joyfully and calls it Binky. His deepest wish unexpectedly fulfilled, Bill hugs Jean and declares they are going to the circus after all.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||World premiere in Los Angeles: 3 Sep 1953; New York opening: 21 Sep 1953|
|Release Date:||1953||Production Date:||
The Perlberg-Seaton Production
EB (Loaner #1406 or 2438)
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Paramount Pictures Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Paramount Pictures Corp.|
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deserves to be on dvd
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