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Festival Year Festival Section
2008 The French Touch (1915-1929) - Prog. 3

Alternative Title 1 Cinque giorni a Parigi
Alternative Title 2
Alternative Title 3
Country France
Release Date 11 September 1925
Production Co. Films Albatros
Director Nicolas Rimsky, Pière Colombier

Format   Speed (fps)
35mm   18
Footage   Time
1572 m.   77'

Archive Source Cinémathèque Française, Paris
Print Notes Didascalie in francese / French intertitles.

Nicolas Rimsky (Harry Mascaret), Dolly Davis (Dolly), Sylvio de Pedrelli (Count de Costa Corvinatza), Madeleine Guitty (Grace Pumpkin), Pierre Labry (Jerry Bennett), Irma Gray (sua moglie/his wife), Max Lerel (Lloyd, loro filgio/their son), Valeska Rimsky (Mistress Cool), Léon Courtois (Ted Broadcast, la guida/the tour guide), Émile Saint-Ober (capo contabile/chief accountant), Louis Monfils (ufficiale di polizia/police official), Hubert Daix (l'altro americano/the other American)
Other Credits
scen: Michel Linsky, Nicolas Rimsky; didascalie/intertitles: Raoul Ploquin; f./ph: Paul Guichard, Gaston Chelle, Nicolas Roudakoff; scg./des: Lazare Meerson
Other Information
riprese/filmed: 6-8.1925 (Paris; Studios Albatros, Montreuil)
Program Notes
In Jean-Luc Godard's 1964 Bande à part, there's a famous gag in which the three footloose young protagonists visit the Louvre in a record-breaking 9 minutes 43 seconds. But 40 years earlier, a Cook's Tour of middle-class Americans had already hoofed it through the galleries in a breathless 15 minutes in Paris en cinq jours, probably the first movie comedy about tourists. Godard may have seen this long-forgotten film at the Cinémathèque, but it is more likely that he remembered Jacques Feyder's crib on the same joke in his first Hollywood (and last silent) movie, The Kiss (1929).
The Louvre scene is one of the more genial set-pieces in this breezy, scattershot farce co-directed by Nicolas Rimsky and Pière Colombier, and starring Rimsky as a Chicago accountant named Harry Mascaret who has a passion for all things French, especially “The Three Musketeers”. When he comes into some money, he leaps at the chance to offer himself and his sweetheart (Dolly Davis) a five-day visit to Paris, on the last day of which he plans to officially propose to her in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Complications arise out of hapless Harry's misadventures with Paris landmarks and the French language (in Raoul Ploquin's perky intertitles). One scene finds Harry, an opera fan back home, looking for the Paris Opera House, only to lose himself on the steps of the Metro's Opéra station, asking passers-by in broken French: “Metropolitan Opera?”
The script, by a now-forgotten Russian humorist named Michel Linsky, doesn't have much story sense, especially in the subplot about the aristocratic libertine (Sylvio de Pedrelli) who joins the tour merely to seduce Dolly. The musketeer leitmotif is introduced with excessive screen time and then simply forgotten. (But criticism of the script must be conditional: the preserved Cinémathèque Française print we are showing is a shorter silent version of the 1930 sound reissue of the film.)
The film's central weakness is Rimsky himself - his bumbling and grimacing are mostly uninspired mimicry of American models. Still, Rimsky enjoyed popularity among French cinema audiences of the 1920s. An obscure supporting actor in pre-Revolutionary Russian films from 1915, he emigrated to France with producer Joseph Ermolieff and his company in 1920, and immediately became one of the troupe's leading players at the Montreuil studios. Though physically unassuming, he could interchangeably play romantic leads and exotic villains. Then, in 1923, he co-wrote and starred in Viacheslav Tourjansky's Ce cochon de Morin, based on Maupassant's short story, whose success immediately pointed Rimsky in a new direction as a comic actor (and allowed him to shelve his hair-pieces). Benefiting from the 1924 defection of talent from Alexandre Kamenka's Films Albatros, Rimsky stayed on as the studio's only regular star, adding additional hats as co-writer and co-director to maintain control over his films. But the Albatros dream collapsed in 1926 just as Kamenka was grooming René Clair. Rimsky briefly returned to dramatic roles, made some last silent comedies, and bravely but ill-advisedly took on the talkies with one last folly, the first French screen adaptation of classic operetta, Pas sur la bouche (1931) - which he co-directed with Nicolas Evreinoff! Rimsky proved that not only could he not act in French, but he couldn't sing either. Reduced to bit parts (sometimes as a Russian taxi driver), Rimsky died in 1942, asphyxiated in his sleep by a gas leak. - LENNY BORGER