My recent post about Diahann Carroll’s enchanting cameo in the 1961 film. Goodbye Again (HERE). got me thinking of about that other black and white film shot in Paris that she was in that same year, Paris Blues.
Like Goodbye Again, Blues was produced by United Artists, and no doubt, Carroll shot her cameo in Again at the same time thst she was working on Blues. Directed by Martin Ritt, a great American director who I still think is terribly underrated (Hud, The Molly Maguires, Norma Rae, Sounder), the film is admittedly rather thin, plot-wise. More of a souffle than a full course meal.
But it’s made with real style and has a wonderful vibrant feel to it, no doubt, in large credit to a great score by Duke Ellington. And besides, what city in the world looks more beautiful in black and white than Paris?
The film revolves around two struggling jazz musicians, played by Sidney Poitier and Paul Newman, and their entangled romances with two visiting tourists, played by Newman’s real life wife Joanne Woodward and Carroll.
The story involving Newman and Woodard is admittedly not that interesting; its the storyline involving Poitier and Carroll that is the more intriguing.
Poitier is a sax player who’s been living in Paris for the past five years, fleeing the racism he encountered in the States. Carroll is a young teacher who, of course, is immediately smitten with him. But being more socially conscious, she wants Poitier to go back to the states to fight conditions there, instead of what she sees as taking the easy way out and living a carefree life in Paris.
Their scenes together are romantic and charming, and there’s a genuine real chemistry and subtle sensuality between them. That shouldn’t be surprising, considering that the film was made when both the married Poitier and Carroll were almost two years into an intense private affair, which lasted another seven, disastrously ending in bitterness and both their marriages. Though they made up years ago, and have remained close friends ever since.
The only problem is that one wishes there were more scenes of them together, instead of the dull ones with Newman and the droopy Woodard. Even better, just a film about them alone.
Still it’s rare to see a film involving a serious romance between two mature, adult, intelligent black people, and I found the entire film posted on You Tube so you can see for yourself.
It’s not a classic in any way, but it sure is refreshing to see to a pair of adult black people in love in a movie.