Cast & Crew
Ram Bowen and Eddie Cook are two expatriate American jazzmen working in a Left Bank nightclub in Paris. Ram is there hoping to attain stature as a musician, and Eddie has come to escape the racism a Negro encounters in the United States. Among their friends are Wild Man Moore, a trumpeter helping Ram with his concerto; Marie Seoul, who owns the club and is having a casual affair with Ram; and Michel Duvigne, a Gypsy guitarist addicted to drugs. One day Ram and Eddie meet two American tourists, Lillian Corning and Connie Lampson, who are on a 2-week vacation in Paris. Eventually the two couples pair off, and Eddie decides to marry Connie and return to the United States, despite the discrimination he will face. Though Ram falls in love with Lillian, he is reluctant to give up his independence and become a second-rate trombone player in the States. When an impresario rejects his concerto, Ram at first decides to leave Paris and marry Lillian; but ultimately he realizes that he must stay until he can determine whether he has a real talent for composing. Sadly he says goodby to Lillian and returns to his music.
Jo De Bretagne
Best Music Original Dramatic Score
On-screen in Paris Blues, their romantic fate worked out a lot better. The plot featured Poitier and Newman as American expatriate musicians living in Paris after World War II. Newman is studying classical music while earning a living playing in a jazz club owned by a woman with whom he is having a casual affair. Poitier enjoys life abroad as an escape from the racial hatred he experienced at home in America. They meet two young vacationing schoolteachers, Carroll and Joanne Woodward, and pair off. Carroll eventually convinces Poitier it's better to return to the States and face bigotry head-on rather than hiding out in a foreign country. They leave together with plans to marry. Newman gives up his bachelor status and casts his fate with Woodward after it becomes clear his classical music career is going nowhere. But at the last minute, he meets her at the train station to tell her he won╒t be going back to America with her after all. In real life, the situation was completely reversed. The couple had been married since 1958, the same year they co-starred in two movies, The Long Hot Summer and Rally Round the Flag, Boys!. Prior to Paris Blues, they also appeared together in From the Terrace (1960). They continue to have one of the longest personal and professional partnerships in Hollywood, and have acted together in seven other films. Newman also directed his wife in four feature films and one made-for-TV movie. This was the pair's second film under Martin Ritt's direction. Newman would go on to make four more films with Ritt, including his Oscar-nominated performance in Hud (1963). Woodward worked with Ritt on three previous pictures, including the screen adaptation of William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (1959).
Poitier had also worked with Ritt before, on the director's first feature, Edge of the City (1957), a movie dealing with tough racial themes. It was the experience of working with the liberal, socially conscious Ritt and the examination of race in that film that likely attracted Poitier to this project, in spite of his concerns about working with Carroll again. Poitier's beautiful co-star almost didn't take it for the same reason, but Carroll couldn't resist the script because although it was a contemporary love story, "it showed some social and political awareness and presented black people as normal human beings." Largely because of Poitier's breakthrough in the 1950s, black actors were beginning to be seen as viable stars for feature films (although some critics carped that with her appearance in this picture, Carroll was transformed into a boring, middle-class white version of a modern black woman). Still, things weren't entirely equal. In the Harold Flender novel on which the movie is based, the story centered only on a black jazz musician who falls for a black schoolteacher vacationing in Paris. For the screen, producers hedged their bets by adding a white couple and casting the very popular Newman and Woodward team. Some viewers have suggested that the film might have been an even stronger examination of race (and a more interesting love story) if the black man had paired off with the white woman and vice versa. There was even a rumor that that was the intention going into production but it's never been confirmed.
In spite of Paris Blues' star power and racial themes, it was not a success on its release and critics found more merit in the music featured in the film. Duke Ellington was commissioned to write the score, which won an Oscar nomination for Best Scoring of a Motion Picture. At least one biography of Ellington claims he went to Paris to work on it with longtime friend and collaborator Billy Strayhorn, but the composer of "Lush Life" and "Take the A Train" is not credited on the final film. Also singled out for praise was Louis Armstrong who plays a musician named Wild Man Moore, one of the few times in his film career (of more than 30 movies) that he did not play himself.
Producer: Sam Shaw
Director: Martin Ritt
Screenplay: Lulla Rosenfeld, Walter Bernstein, Irene Kamp, Jack Sher, based on the novel by Harold Flender
Art Direction: Alexandre Trauner
Cinematography: Christian Matras
Film Editing: Roger Dwyre
Original Music: Duke Ellington
Principal Cast: Paul Newman (Ram Bowen), Joanne Woodward (Lillian Corning), Sidney Poitier (Eddie Cook), Louis Armstrong (Wild Man Moore), Diahann Carroll (Connie Lampson), Moustache (Drummer), Barbara Laage (Marie Seoul), Serge Reggiani (Michel Duvigne).
BW-99m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Rob Nixon
TCM Remembers Paul Newman (1925-2008) - Important Schedule Change for Paul Newman Tribute
Sunday, October 12
Sunday, October 12 Program for TCM
6:00 AM The Rack
8:00 AM Until They Sail
10:00 AM Torn Curtain
12:15 PM Exodus
3:45 PM Sweet Bird of Youth
6:00 PM Hud
8:00 PM Somebody Up There Likes Me
10:00 PM Cool Hand Luke
12:15 AM Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
2:15 AM Rachel, Rachel
4:00 AM The Outrage
TCM Remembers Paul Newman (1925-2008)
Paul Newman, with his electric blue eyes and gutsy willingness to play anti-heroes, established himself as one of the movies' great leading men before settling into his latter-day career of flinty character acting. Born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, in 1925, Newman studied at the Yale Drama School and New York's Actors Studio before making his Broadway debut in Picnic.
Newman's breakthrough in films came in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), in which he played boxer Rocky Graziano. He quickly reinforced his reputation in such vehicles as The Rack (1956) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), for which he won the first of nine Oscar® nominations as an actor.
In 1958, while shooting The Long Hot Summer (1958) - which earned him the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival - in Louisiana, he became re-acquainted with Joanne Woodward, who was the film's female lead. The two soon fell in love, and after divorcing Jackie, Newman and Woodward were married in Las Vegas in 1958. The couple appeared in numerous films together and had three daughters, which they raised far from Hollywood in the affluent neighborhood of Westport, CT.
The 1960s was a fruitful decade for Newman, who starred in such hits as Exodus (1960), Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969); and scored Oscar® nominations for The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963) and Cool Hand Luke (1967).
Newman's political activism also came to the forefront during the sixties, through tireless campaigning for Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential campaign. His association with McCarthy led to his being named on future President Richard Nixon's infamous "Opponents List;" Newman, who ranked #19 out of 20, later commented that his inclusion was among the proudest achievements of his career.
Newman's superstar status - he was the top-ranking box office star in 1969 and 1970 - allowed him to experiment with film roles during the 1970s, which led to quirky choices like WUSA (1970), Sometimes a Great Notion (1971), Pocket Money (1972), and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) - all of which he also produced through First Artists, a company he established with fellow stars Sidney Poitier and Barbra Streisand.
After coming close to winning an Oscar® for Absence of Malice (1981), Newman finally won the award itself for The Color of Money (1986). He also received an honorary Oscar® in 1986 and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1994. A producer and director as well as an actor, Newman has directed his wife (and frequent costar) Joanne Woodward through some of her most effective screen performances [Rachel, Rachel (1968), The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972)].
He remained active as an actor in his later years, playing the Stage Manager in Our Town on both stage and television, lending his voice to the animated features Cars (2006) and Mater and the Ghostlight (2006). Off-screen, Newman set the standard for celebrity-driven charities with his Newman's Own brand of foods, which brought $200 million to causes, and the Hole in the Wall Gang camp for seriously ill children.
TCM Remembers Paul Newman (1925-2008) - Important Schedule Change for Paul Newman Tribute Sunday, October 12
I want to give you a going away present. You may not like it, but I don't care. It's just this: you're never going to forget me. You're going to walk down the streets wherever you happen to be and you're going to see me, whether you want to or not. No one's ever going to be as right for you as I am. Twelve days in Paris.- Lillian Corning
This romance is doomed.- Ram Bowen
Why?- Lillian Corning
We get up too early.- Ram Bowen
You just do everything I say, don't you?- Ram Bowen
No, I wanted to stay.- Lillian Corning
You're a nut. I ain't getting involved with no nut!- Ram Bowen
You know, everybody's always waiting for everybody else to take a chance because they're so afraid!- Lillian Corning
Location scenes filmed in Paris.
Released in United States Fall October 1961
Released in United States Fall October 1961