Bon Voyage! Reviews
I spend, as may be evident, a lot of time online, to the extent that internet access is a requirement for my daily life. I couldn't cope without it. It would drive me crazy. The thing I have noticed in the places I spend the most time is that people from the United States tend to assume that everyone they interact with online is, too. Now, as it happens, one of the reasons text-speak is rude on the Bad Astronomy/Universe Today forum is that more than a few of our members are from various non-English-speaking countries. Even a lot of our native speakers are native speakers from other continents. (Many discussions have arisen about slang that's relatively inoffensive in one country and horribly, horribly rude somewhere else.) Similarly, many Americans think they can get by in other countries by speaking loudly and slowly and pointing a lot.
The Willard clan is off to Paris! When Katie (Jane Wyman), many years ago, married Harry (Fred MacMurray) of Terre Haute, Indiana, her family and friends despaired of her deplorable taste. After all, my dear, he's a plumber! But the Willards were happy. They had three children. There's the oldest, Amy (Deborah Wally), and sons Elliott (Tommy Kirk) and Skipper (Kevin Corcoran, apparently contractually forbidden from playing anyone with a name for humans). Finally, Harry is able to afford to take the whole family off to France, a trip he's been promising Katie for years. They take five days to sail across the Atlantic, which was presumably cheaper at the time than flying. They go to Paris. They go to the Riviera. Amy falls in love with Nick O'Mara (Michael Callan), the child of wealthy but lousy parents. Elliott falls in love with falling in love. Skipper basically remains twelve. Or thirteen, possibly.
Nobody in a movie from 1962 would say this, but Nick really would have benefited from some intensive therapy. He really does have serious parent issues. His father is essentially irrelevant to the story. His mother, the Comtesse (Jessie Royce Landis), shouldn't raise a cat, much less a son. We are all of us shaped by our parents' relationships, among other things, and it's no mystery why Nick has such a sour perspective on marriage. His mother has, he says, been married three times, or is it four? Now, that in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but I don't think it's much of a good one, either. It's also quite clear that she's never sat down with him and talked about what makes a successful relationship, because I don't think she'd know a successful relationship if you hit her over the head with it. It would occur to her no more than it did to Nick that you could be in love with your spouse as long as the Willards have been in love.
While I disagree with the judge they met on the ship, who went on about parents' spoiling their children, I do think the Willards were awfully willing to let their children run about in a strange country. Skipper was forced to stay with them, and a good thing, but I'm sorry. Even if you don't want to do the touristy thing, it's not unreasonable of your parents to require it of you if you're all in a foreign country. "I'm going to go have lunch on the Left Bank instead of to the Louvre with you" is not, to me, an acceptable answer. If Nick wants to see Amy, Nick may come along with the family or at very least discuss his plans with her parents in advance. Elliott may not go gallivanting about the city in pursuit of girls. I mean, leaving aside that there are doubtless plenty of girls at the Louvre, and leaving aside that Tommy Kirk was a legal adult at the time, if they're young enough so you're all on one passport, they're not old enough to travel all over Paris without you.
This is, shall we say, not a complicated movie. It was a little alarming to see Fred MacMurray slamming back absinthe like it was water; well, his character didn't know how potent it is, which is of course the joke. Jane Wyman was not an unattractive woman, so it's hardly surprising that Rudolph Hunschak (Ivan Desny) would fall for her, though someone suggests to Harry that it's because he's trying to prove he's better than the husband. It's also worth noting that half the characters in the movie make the automatic assumption that American tourists are rich. Now, compared to people in a lot of parts of the world, American tourists are very rich indeed. However, Paris really isn't one of them. Then again, a lot of the "rich American tourist" references are there to set up disappointment for people who fall for it, such as the probably-prostitute (Françoise Prévost?), who is the most surprising part of the movie, if you think about it.