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The Last Time I Saw Paris
The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954)
  • Director:
    Richard Brooks
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Julius J. Epstein,Philip G. Epstein
  • Cast:
    Elizabeth Taylor,Van Johnson,Walter Pidgeon
  • Time:
    1h 56min
  • Year:
Charles returns to Paris to reminisce about the life he led in Paris after it was liberated. He worked on "Stars and Stripes" when he met Marion and Helen. He would marry and be happy staying in Paris after his discharge and working for a news organization. He would try to write his great novel and that would come between Charlie, his wife, and his daughter.
Complete credited cast:
Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth Taylor - Helen Ellswirth
Van Johnson Van Johnson - Charles Wills
Walter Pidgeon Walter Pidgeon - James Ellswirth
Donna Reed Donna Reed - Marion Ellswirth
Eva Gabor Eva Gabor - Lorraine Quarl
Kurt Kasznar Kurt Kasznar - Maurice
George Dolenz George Dolenz - Claude Matine
Roger Moore Roger Moore - Paul
Sandy Descher Sandy Descher - Vicki
Celia Lovsky Celia Lovsky - Mama
Peter Leeds Peter Leeds - Barney
John Doucette John Doucette - Campbell
Odette Myrtil Odette Myrtil - Singer (as Odette)

The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954)

Lester Cowan had previously tried to make the film in the 1940s, with Cary Grant and Shirley Temple as father and daughter. He originally planned to co-produce with his partner Mary Pickford.

This is one of a handful of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer productions of the early 1950s, whose original copyrights were never renewed, and are now in the Public Domain. For this reason, this title is now offered, often in very inferior copies, at bargain prices, by numerous VHS and DVD distributors, who do not normally handle copyrighted or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer material.

The film is loosely based upon F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story "Babylon Revisited".

While the "mystery challenger" on What's My Line?: Elizabeth Taylor (1954), Elizabeth Taylor was asked why this movie was renamed. She replied that the studio was afraid audiences would assume that a movie titled "Babylon Revisited" was about Biblical subject matters.

Variety reported that William Wyler would direct the film for Paramount Pictures, with Gregory Peck as Charles Wills.

Independent Producer Lester Cowan bought F. Scott Fitzgerald's film adaptation of his short story "Babylon Revisited", which the author had retitled "Cosmopolitan" for the screen, for a bargain price, and hired Fitzgerald's services as Screenwriter. Cowan was frustrated in his attempts to make the film, and eventually sold it to MGM, who updated it from the 1920s.

This was Sir Roger Moore's first American release.

February and May 1954 Hollywood Reporter news items include Carlos Thompson and Murray Pollack in the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.

Sandy Descher, seen here as Van Johnson's precocious, ballet-dancing daughter, is best remembered for one of her other roles: She played the little girl found wandering in the desert who spoke the immortal line "Them!" In the 1954 sci-fi classic about giant ants, Them.

The Japanese title translated in English is "Died in Paris in the Rainy Morning".

Helen paraphrases Thomas Wolfe, "You can never go home again," a reference to one of his novels, "You Can't Go Home Again" (1940).

First shown on network television after being telecast on local stations for years.

This marked Philip G. Epstein's last release. He died in February 1952.

A Daily Variety news item reported that Bernard Smith would produce the film, and that Screenwriters Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein would co-direct.

The plot element of Taylor's character contacting pneumonia interestingly foreshadows the actress' real life battle with the disease several years later. Taylor always insisted it was her near-death experience and resultant tracheotomy, and not her performance, that won her an Oscar for Butterfield 8.

It's so easy
It's so easy
The Last Time I Saw Paris was the second of two films that Elizabeth Taylor and Van Johnson co-starred. What a difference in four years from The Big Hangover where Johnson was billed ahead of Taylor.

Which is odd in this case because the film is really about Johnson. It's based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's story, Babylon Revisited which takes place in Paris after World War I. MGM apparently thinking that the audience would be more amenable to a story taking place after World War II, so the plot was updated for France of the Fourth Republic.

It doesn't quite work though, France of that era was a whole lot different than France of the Roaring Twenties. They partied then also when Paris was liberated and the Germans chased out of their country, but on the whole it was a time for more sober reflection of what France's role in the post war world would be. The Roaring Twenties that Fitzgerald wrote about were not the Roaring Forties.

Van Johnson is a GI who comes upon a family of expatriates who lived in Paris right through the occupation. Walter Pidgeon and his two daughters, Donna Reed and Elizabeth Taylor. They both are interested, but Johnson has eyes only for Liz. And the film is their story.

It's a tragic story, you can see Fitzgerald himself in Van Johnson, the would be writer who becomes a dissolute playboy. Partying right along with him is Taylor who is the image of Fitzgerald's party girl wife Zelda.

MGM did this one on the cheap. There are some shots of Paris, but on the whole the Paris you see is the Paris that was created by the studio for their classic musical An American in Paris. View the films side by side and you'll have no doubt.

Look for Eva Gabor as a divorcée who likes Johnson and a very young Roger Moore as a tennis pro who'd like to be a kept man by Taylor.

It's a nice story, but it could have been a whole lot better if MGM had actually shot the film in Paris completely and really set in the period it was written.
watching to future
watching to future
Advancing F. Scott Fitzgerald's Babylon Revisited from the jazz-age Paris of the `Lost Generation' to the late 1940s and early 1950s looks logical enough, one World War being much like another, but a certain piquant period flavor gets lost. The madcap behaviors and post-Victorian motivations that made sense in the age of corset-free flappers and expatriate wastrels seem dated in the more efficient, streamlined age of jet travel. The way the characters ruminate about life back home in the United States, you'd think they'd colonized Mars rather than taken lodgings near the Eiffel Tower.

Amid the city-wide orgy of V-E Day, Army correspondent Van Johnson meets two sisters: Donna Reed, who gives him the eye, and Elizabeth Taylor, who catches his. Their happy-go-lucky father (Walter Pidgeon) isn't rich but lives like it (`It's cheaper that way,' Taylor explains). Taylor and Johnson marry, have a daughter, and party in an upper-crust social whirl, while he types out multiple drafts of The Great American Novel. How they (or Pidgeon) can afford their high life goes unmentioned, and when they suddenly come into money, thanks to some Texas oil wells that start gushing, there's little detectable change in the texture of their lives.

Except for disaffection. Johnson drinks more heavily as the rejection slips pile up (Pidgeon advises him that the secret to success is mediocrity). Taylor starts ditching the kid at bistros while she's off jumping into fountains. Three sheets to the wind, Johnson speeds off in his sports-car with Eva Gabor riding shotgun, but his reckless driving comes to naught (twice). Both partners play at adultery but never actually engage in it. Occasionally Reed, a frosty smile frozen on her face, pops up to register her smouldering resentment against Johnson. But then Taylor, of such delicate constitution that she has been known to contract ‘flu not from microbes but from a gentle rain, gets soaked to the skin when she's locked out of the house at dawn and slogs her way through the slush...

Given these melodramatic excesses, Richard Brooks keeps the movie refreshingly low-key; he draws a subdued and affecting performance from Taylor (at the dizzying pinnacle of her young beauty). There are some missteps (Johnson having a drunken argument with himself; Roger Moore as a tennis-pro gigolo; a comfy wrap-up that comes off as forced and abrupt), but Brooks keeps the proceedings passably watchable. This heady, romanticized peek into the life of Americans abroad has its allure, and, though you don't believe it for a minute, it makes you want to sip a Pastis and light up a Gitane.
"The Last Time I Saw Paris" converted the author's sensibility downward, to compassion and soap opera… The movie therefore betrayed the dry-eyed spirit of the original material… The first mistake, though, was in changing the era from the Lost Generation Twenties to post-World War II… The jazz age ambiance, recollected in the story, the mystique of Paris in the Twenties—these key tokens of Fitzgerald's sensibility were missing…

Even more damaging than the switch in era is the attempt to expand the characters whose motivations are only sketched lightly in the short story… Told in flashback, the story centers on a successful American novelist (Van Johnson) who returns to Paris and a reunion with the child he left in the custody of his sister-in-law (Donna Reed), since the death of his wife...

The movie and the actors do not move the characters from point A to point B: why, for instance, do husband and wife reverse roles, she transformed from party girl to sober wife who wants to go home to America, he collapsing from serious writer to disappointed drunk…

Van Johnson lacks the mythic stature to suggest other than a poor man's version of the great, doomed Fitzgerald… And Liz was too young and inexperienced at the time to embody an arch-neurotic, part a malicious temptress, and part an aiding angel…

The role is a cumulation of the Taylor ingénue: the goodtime flirt, cunningly stealing a man from her older sister; the spoiled daughter of a fast living phony; the irresponsible party girl with a good heart underneath it all; the sober young mother and wife; the defiant adulteress; the frail spirit cut down by the forces of nature…

At each "station," she is on home ground, but the part comes out in bits and pieces rather than a coherent whole: the character, finally, does not add up… It may be partly Taylor vapidity (Beverly Hills didn't prepare her for Paris), but it's also the script and the direction: that saintly woman, forgiving all, has very little connection to the blithe spirit who steals her sister's man and parties with non-stop frenzy…
Here in The Last Time I Saw Paris an interesting thing happens. Elizabeth Taylor becomes a woman. Before this picture there were really only two other outstanding performances by Miss Taylor. Or I should say where she was allowed to rise above the material. The first being of course the rhapsodic National Velvet and the second the astonishing A Place In The Sun. The films in between those and The Last Time I Saw Paris were mostly along the `Isn't she beautiful?' line of movie making, and, why not? That was the main engine of most Hollywood star vehicles of the day. A Star didn't have to be a talent. But it was essential to possess a presence that reached out from the screen and touched the audience in a primal way. Miss Taylor had that in spades but she had much more that was often eclipsed in the dazzling explosion of her extraordinary almost alien beauty. But here in the hands of director Richard Brooks (who would later lead her to her triumph in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof) Miss Taylor finds a new level in her abilities as an actress. Her Helen is a woman of many layers and dark corners, of mercurial flights and deep sadness. Elizabeth at the tender age of 22 grasps all the aspects of this tragic woman and illuminates not only the screen with them but the whole enterprise as well. She shows us where she, as an actress is going in the future. And who she will become in her later films, one of the best screen actresses of the twentieth century. This is the real beginning of the Elizabeth Taylor of legend. She fills the role as no one of her generation could. Never again after this film would she sleepwalk through a film, a beautiful shadow to dream over. She is aided in what is perhaps one of Van Johnson's best performances. Donna Reed scores high in the role of Helen's bitter sister and Walter Pidgon is a delight as her roguish father. A standout cameo is presented by Eva Gabor, (not Zsa Zsa) the only one of the famous sisters who had any real talent. The only false performance in the film comes from child actress Sandy Descher. When you compare her forced and overly cute performance to that of the child Elizabeth Taylor in `Jane Eyre' then you see what a treasure Miss Taylor has always been. There is something so essentially wonderful in this gem from MGM and it is this. The Last Time I Saw Pairs is the perfect example of the last flowering in the 50's of the `woman's picture'. Films where women could be multi faceted and complex and drive the story on under their own steam as whole human beings. This is a window to the 50's and a style of filmmaking that seems gone forever, great stories of strong women who fill the screen with power and grace. But with `Far From Heaven' and `The Hours' I may be wrong about forever. I recommend this admittedly dated but charming film for anyone who wants to see what screen acting is all about. It is about thinking and Miss Taylor is a master at the craft.
A great romantic classic. I saw it again now in 9/2001. Some would say that it is a little slow. I still loved it. Liz Taylor looks as beautiful as ever. But the real star is Van Johnson. Great acting. The emotion that he shows is outstanding and very real. I am an older man now...57 years old. I had to reach for my hanky several times. The love...the joy...the tears... and the sorrow of a man for his wife and his child. Well...well...it is too bad they don't have movies like this anymore. I miss them. This is one I will save and enjoy seeing again someday....
A successful writer ( Van Johnson) remembers about his love story with a gorgeous American girl ( Elizabeth Taylor ) in post WWII Paris . As we watch bright scenarios from Paris as the Arc of Triumph , river Sena , Cathedral of Notre Dame , promenade of Eliseos ; furthermore a horsemen race and Montecarlo car race , among others . Based on a semi-autobiographic novel titled ¨ Babylon revisited ¨ by F. Scott Fitzgerald who is well incarnated by Van Johnson and in which Helen played by Elizabeth Taylor represents Zelda , Scott's wife .

This interesting movie reminisces the love affair between a wealthy war reporter and a feisty young woman ; it packs romance , drama , and colorful scenarios . Good support cast as Donna Reed , Eva Gabor , Kurt Kasznar , John Ducette and Walter Pidgeon who steals the show as joyful and sponger father . Glamorous cinematography in glimmer Technicolor by Joseph Ruttemberg and adequate musical score .

The motion picture is professionally written and directed by Richard Brooks . He's an American filmmaker and screenwriter who won an Oscar for ¨ Elmer Gantry ¨ writings ; Brooks so consistently blended the good with average which it became quite impossible to know what to expect from him next . In the 50s , the harder his movies impacted , the more successful they were ; and the gentler they were , the less effective as ¨The last time saw Paris ¨ . Thus , the Brooks pictures that have the biggest hit in the 50 are the following : ¨Blackboard jungle ¨, ¨Something of value ¨ ¨The Brothers Karamazov ¨ , and in the 60s are ¨ Sweet bird of youth¨, Cat on a hot tin roof ¨, ¨In cold blood ¨ and ¨ The professionals ¨ ; in addition during the 70s a special mention to ¨ Bite the bullet ¨. Rating : : Good film that appeal to Elizabeth Taylor fans .
The Last Time I saw Paris

Reviewed by Dan Cooper

This film was made in 1954, and by virtue of its age it becomes an easy target for those who would use it as a vehicle to pump up their own egos with a verbal bashing that will likely go unchallenged. The film has indeed been bashed, here on this database among other places, as unimportant and unworthy of your time as a possible rental choice.

I disagree completely with the uncalled for bashing, and with the judgement that the movie is unworthy of your time. See it for yourself. And if you are young enough to be completely unfamiliar with all of the actors, so much the better for you to judge it fairly on its merits rather than be snowed by the reputations of Hollywood personalities.

The plot has depth and very few weaknesses, the acting is good to very good, and the story has interest value in both historical and social frames of reference.

The plot concerns the uniting of two people whose tragic flaws are not well matched, with the obligatory tragic results. The pair gets together spinning out of a near-miss love triangle. The man (Van Johnson) has no idea of the existence of the triangle, as he is completely taken with Taylor and just as completely forgets his earlier attraction to the other woman (Donna Reed). Reed, the rejected third wheel, is actually not rejected, per se, but becomes the "odd man out" none the less when her sister (Liz Taylor) successfully steers the affections of the duped Johnson in her own direction instead.

Reed adopts the persona of the rejected party to a relationship that never was, and exacts her revenge later in the film.

While the big name actors of the day are no longer influencing moviegoers today, they undoubtedly sold the film in 1954. I find some weaknesses in both acting and directing, but the film is definitely worth seeing if you have never had the pleasure. Van Johnson's role is that of a fairly shallow character with a good heart but no follow-through to carry him to victory until way too late to do much good. Johnson possibly could have done more with the role, but the weakness of the character should not be confused with some partially perceived weakness in Johnson's delivery of the part.

Taylor does a nice job as the sly and experienced older sister, the one with the better looks and the Machiavellian technique to get whatever she wants, again at the expense of little sister Reed. The film is actually carried more by the acting of the supporting cast than by the efforts of the leads. Two very strong performances are put forth by Walter Pidgeon and George Dolenz. Pidgeon plays the opportunistic pretender to wealth and father of the two women. Dolenz is the earnest lover of Reed, who inherits her full-time attentions only after Johnson is fully occupied with Taylor. Dolenz marries Reed and in the end does a very nice job of becoming the film's heroic figure.

Eva Gabor at the peak of her youthful beauty does a good job as yet another love triangle component for the easily side-tracked Johnson after his marriage to Taylor. Another triangle develops with a very young Roger Moore finding the eye of Taylor.

Do yourself a favor and see this movie.

Dan Cooper is a freelance writer/editor. He has been writing for over 30 years and has done book and movie reviews sporadically since the 1970's.
Elizabeth Taylor, Donna Reed, and Walter Pidgeon turn in fine performances in this updated adaptation of F.Scott Fitzgerald's short story, BABYLON REVISITED. Two serious flaws keep this good movie from succeeding completely. One is a seriously miscast Van Johnson. His limited talent does not include the ability to portray a writer, much less one who struggles with intellectual despair. The second and more serious flaw is the movie's ending. The happy ending constructed for the movie is completely out of line with the story's point of view and makes no sense for the motivations of all the characters as written by Fitzgerald or adapted by the screenwriter. The title song is nicely sung by Dinah Shore.
and this film, while dated, captures some of its aura. I am saddened as I write this, realizing a no-talent celebrity has marred the name "Paris" in America, but perhaps Americans will soon come to their senses.

But I digress. Other reviewers have analyzed Ms. Taylor's performance, and she does quite well; her father is portrayed by Walter Pigeon as a shallow lothario, Donna Reed is the angelic sister, and Van Johnson the writer/husband. While I agree with a previous review that the persona of F. Scott Fitgerald is not completely manifested, Johnson does a good job of being a conflicted writer, loves his wife, but needs more, eventually spiraling downward into alcoholism.

One scene with their young daughter is particularly touching, she is on a merry-go-round in the park, near the Seine, it is cold, Johnson is trying to reconcile with Elizabeth Taylor; He will change, he will stop drinking, he will redeem himself;(he promises, to no avail).

The hope and sadness are projected on screen. The moods and cinemascope coloring from 1954 are classic. We do not see such subtlety today. The incidental music is also haunting. Highly recommended, especially if you love Paris.
Though downbeat and sometimes sad, this is a generally well-crafted human drama that explores several aspects of family life and relationships. Elizabeth Taylor is the standout in a good cast, with Van Johnson also getting some good scenes. The postwar Paris setting is used in a number of well-conceived ways in the story.

Johnson plays the main character, a reporter and would-be novelist who begins the movie with a trip back to Paris, and begins reminiscing about the past. The character's career disappointments and family crises give much of the story a markedly pessimistic (if not depressing) tone, yet Johnson plays the part believably, and the story brings out some worthwhile thoughts, as his character gradually loses his perspective on things.

As his wife, Taylor's appeal and energy stand out every time she is on screen, but more importantly, she develops the character consistently throughout the story, often in interesting contrast to Johnson's character. She starts out as a rather spoiled, fun-loving young woman, then gradually takes on more depth and character. Her performance adds considerable meaning to the rest of the movie, and it also help in making the other characters more believable.

Walter_Pidgeon (sorry, otherwise can't get it past the spell-checker) seems to be having fun as the easygoing father, and Donna Reed does a solid job in a rather thankless role as Taylor's more serious, sometimes envious sister. Eva Gabor and a young Roger Moore play characters who are one-dimensional yet important to the plot.

Overall, everything works pretty well. The pace is just a bit slow at times, which occasionally makes for heavy going during the sadder stretches. But these always have a point, and as a whole it is a worthwhile drama with some interesting characters.
energy breath
energy breath
Writer of The Last Time I saw Paris, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940) and director Richard Brooks (1912 - 1992) brings us this star-studded cast unto the streets and hearts of the city of amor. With bright young things such as a very beautiful Elizabeth Taylor (aged 22 years) and Van Johnson taking the lead roles as the poor but vitality filled youths who must, and in the case for poor Charles Wills retrace his paths and once again revisit this Babylon city.

Filled with the likes of Walter Pidgeon, Donna Reed, Roger Moore and a young Eva Gabor (sister to Zsa Zsa), and too, the tiny tot Sandy "THEM!" Descher, this fairytale of love, relationships, resentment, jealously and rude awakenings is a glam fest of lost love, missed opportunities and bitter rivalries; these are, at times, shallow people who have to deal with deeper consequences that climaxes into a most touching ending indeed. Each has their own skeletons hiding, and what makes this movie work is the way in which the bitterness shows no remorse for its self-inflicted victims, and too, the excellent acting from all, bare with it till the end, and you will see alcoholic Van Johnson begging for his young daughters return both captivating and his breathtakingly agonising plight only builds up the finale to a higher level. Wonderful stuff.

Great performance's from all; tight, constant and believable, and given a script and dialogue that can be both acid tongued and emotional from the very start, we also see, very quickly, that this movie belongs to Elizabeth Taylor. As movie legend denotes MGM bought into this project from Paramount to propel this evergreen beauty further into the glamour and beauty that is the Elizabeth Taylor myth, no expense spared; the best gowns, chic hairstyles and the look of the Goddess Aphrodite, oh, and her acting is also superb, playing the lovelorn woman with graceful respect of her role and showing depth and maturity to boot. Ms. Taylor's script, Ms. Taylor's role, is empty of the panache of the Hollywood style of being over-produced, but it is a lovingly small and tender rendition of how one can turn less into more. Tremendous stuff.

Working on human emotion rather than gimmicky egos, The Last Time I Saw Paris is a charming novella that will take you far beyond the walls of Babylon and have you reminiscing the beautiful nights in the City of Love. Have you your one-way ticket bought yet?
How anyone could indicate that Van Johnson is "wooden" or miscast in this film is an incredible conumdrum. With his usual innocent charm, he builds the character with an authenticity which is totally suited to the screenplay. He is totally credible and authentic. If no other success can be perceived, surely the later scenes with his concern for both wife and daughter are amazingly touching; his tears are touching and beautifully demonstrated as no actor in my memory. The breadth of his performance stands out, with this character being fleshed out and fully developed. I hope that in his later years at the nursing home he did not read some of the uncharitable reviews of his performance. A highly underrated actor who deserved better. This is his very best role which he embraced fully, sensitively and beautifully. What a guy!
It is the end of WWII. Van Johnson, a reporter in the military, celebrates together with all of Paris. At a café he meets a friend and his girlfriend. The girl, played by Donna Reed, immediatly fells in love with Van Johnsson. Unfortenatly for Donna Reed, Van Johnsson is bound to meet her sister, a young beautiful girl played by Elisabeth Taylor. There is love at first sight, They get married and their marriage has its ups and downs but results in a baby girl. In the most troubled period in their marriage, Van Johnsson no longer works as a reporter but as a novelist. All he gets is rejections and this affect both of them to that he moves back to the states. After a year he understands where he went wrong and goes back to France for his daughter.

The movie features good actors, especially Walter Pidgeon as the father of the two sisters. We also get to see a young Roger Moore in his first American movie. sadly the movie suffers from its lenght, almost two hours. At times it seems dull and uninteresting. 4/10
This is a rather annoying film. After all, the first 80% of it is very good--with nice acting and a very compelling story. Then, oddly, the last portion of the movie seems to fall apart and is a bit of a confusing and saccharine-like mess.

The film begins with Van Johnson meeting and falling in love with Elizabeth Taylor. Considering how incredibly beautiful and sweet she was, it was easy to see why he dumped Donna Reed to pursue Taylor. Johnson's ambition it to publish a novel, but in the meantime he has married Taylor, has a lovely little girl and a well-paying job in Paris. What more could he want? Sure, his book has been rejected by some publishers, but considering everything he is still clearly a lucky man. But Johnson is NOT happy and is a self=indulgent idiot (to put it mildly). All he can do is feel sorry for himself for not being published. To bruise his shallow ego, he begins taking Taylor for granted and spends way too much time with his new friend--sultry Eva Gabor. Gabor is NOT the 'just friends' type, as she's been married multiple times. How any sane man could chose her over the sweet wife is beyond me and you really, really hate Johnson's character--a big switch for the guy who usually played such likable guys.

All of this drama was compelling and I really got into the film--and wondered why the film had a mediocre score on IMDb. But then, late in the film, I saw exactly what the problem was. The film began to make no sense at all and decided to use clichés instead of decent writing. Out of the blue, Johnson locks Taylor out of the house and it's raining. In the real world, she'd get mad but that's all. Here in this Bizarro World, instead she gets sick and dies!!!! Folks, in real life standing in the rain does NOT cause death! And how she died with him rushing to her and having her die in his arms was dreadfully schmaltzy and stupid. And, what happened next was worse. Not one minute of the last portion of the film rang true or made sense. Considering that Johnson was cheating on his wife and locked the wife out in the rain, you'd THINK Taylor's father (Walter Pidgeon) would be at least a tiny bit angry--but he wasn't!! And, when Johnson CONTINUES to feel sorry for himself and neglects his daughter (necessitating her being cared for by others), you think this guy is a total bum--and yet they have them reunite at the end of the film and there's a 100% phony Hollywood ending!!! The first portion of the film I give a 9--it's that good. The last, I'd give a 2 or a 3--at best. An overall score of 5 seems reasonable as the actors do a nice job with a bubble-headed script--but frankly, the end just ruins the film for me.
Lush not terribly faithful rendition of Fitzgerald's Babylon Revisited is hampered by the miscasting of Van Johnson in the lead. There is no way other than script demands that Elizabeth Taylor would pick the vapid Johnson let alone stay with him throughout the increasingly boorish behavior he subjects her too. Donna Reed fulfills the requirements of her part but it asks little of her skill. The film is beautifully shot with that MGM sheen and Walter Pidgeon gives a terrific performance as Elizabeth's madcap father. Fitzgerald is hard to adapt to begin with and the script writers don't have a firm grasp on the material so it becomes a colorful soap opera but little else.
I went into this one not expecting much, and I wasn't disappointed. Basically you have a pleasingly low-key performance by Van Johnson as a hard-working American G.I. who decides to stay in Paris, under the spell of a lovely bohemian (Liz Taylor) and her anti-pragmatic father (Walter Pidgeon), but his performance eventually veers too deeply into the maudlin as we're expected to believe that his inability to write a successful novel has brought about an existential crisis for the protagonist as well as a marriage crisis for the couple.

The most irritating thing about the movie is the way that the writers tried so hard to make sure that the audience wouldn't blame either of the lovers for any of the bad things that are happening, all the while expecting us to buy that each lover blames the other at least at one point or another. That makes me suspect more than anything that some radical changes must have been made to F. Scott Fitzgerald's original story.

It's even hard to say if the film has any visual beauty to compensate for the lack of believable characters, at least on the DVD I saw (where it was coupled with "Father's Little Dividend") the colors were very faded and there were visible scratch lines and so forth indicating that this DVD was made from a print and not a negative. So I couldn't possibly take away or add any credit to the film because of photography because it's very hard to judge the quality of the images. However I found the directing in general to be good with regards to the actors' performances but pretty nondescript in terms of visual sensibilities.
What a terrible case of bad casting. Van Johnson has the emotional range of Herbie the Love Bug. There is no chemistry between him and Taylor, who is as gorgeous as ever and makes you wonder why SHE could fall so hard for HIM. Why in the HELL is HE in this movie!!

The rest of the cast is near perfect by comparison. The story... er, well... it's terribly contrived and predictable. Aside from Johnson making his character a big baby, I could follow most of it with my disbelief suspended. This role calls for someone who 1) is loveable, 2) is a rake, 3) is a believeable drunk, 4) is physically at least half as attractive as Taylor, and lastly, 5) can act worth a damn. Needless to say, the person they chose fits none of these characteristics. William Holden would have been perfect in this role. I'd like to hear the back story of how Johnson got the part, because he must have been blackmailing someone.
This "adaptation" of one of F. Scott Fitzgerald's greatest short stories is a conglomeration of every bad melodramatic plot twist known to the movies. You have to keep watching just to see what they'll throw in next. Van Johnson is perhaps even more wooden than usual and Donna Reed has little to do in a thankless role. Walter Pigeon does as well as could be expected, considering his one-note bluff and hearty character. But Elizabeth Taylor manages to seem genuine and natural most of the time, despite being saddled with a perplexing character whose ever-changing motivations seem to come out of nowhere. Especially during her serious scenes with Johnson in the first half of the movie, she manages to hint at a believable inner complexity.
The Last Time I Saw Paris- Starring Elizabeth Taylor and Van Johnson with Walter Pidgeon,Donna Reed,Eva Gabor and Roger Moore- from a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald with music by Jerome Kern- we track a reporter from Post WWW2 Paris and his relationship with a family with 2 lovely daughters and an eccentric father(he drinks and gambles)- The reporter chooses the carefree Helen as his life partner and then tries his hand at being a reporter and novelist(he has 3 novels rejected)-finally the family lucks into money through Texas oilwells- but there is disension cuz they are rich and bored and cuz Charlie feels like he is a failure- clocking in at 116 minutes- this movie tires to tell several stories-some are romantic,others are vaguely tawdry and some are tragic- but in the end the movie feels like a pretty outline of a deeper story- I got the general idea of the plot- but I was left apathetic towards the characters by the end.
Seeing this on the shelf of my local library,I decided to give this movie a chance and hope for the best. The title first of all told me that this would be a "tear-jerker",the kind of movie I'm not really into but I checked it out just the same.

No doubt after it started I could certainly see why men in Hollywood wanted to be with Liz. I asked myself while watching though,why would a free spirit like her want to tie herself down with an overly-serious person like Van Johnson's character?

I'm not saying he doesn't show emotion but sharing a kiss on the street hardly seems a plausible way for two to fall in love with each other. (Then again,in life,strange things do happen.)

I did get caught up in their romantic and idealistic ways but of course was waiting for the disaster to strike.

Then they hit : His inability to sell a novel to a publisher. Her still carrying on as if she weren't married. His friendship with Eva Gabor making her (Taylor) jealous for no good reason. His alcoholism and (what we're clued into in the first scene of the movie) her untimely demise from pneumonia. Quite the soap opera.

I found Taylor's character dying from this to be a bit ridiculous. Okay,she got locked out and caught in the rain and the cold with snow on the ground. She gets to her sister's place soaking wet and passes out. Now,why not just get her upstairs and into a hot bath for Pete's sake?!

Any believability the film had before that went out the window for me and after her character is gone,the only thing one is left with is Johnson's character getting his daughter back from Donna Reed. I couldn't stand her character at all for she seems to hate Van Johnson's character without good reason,though she has one later.

I will admit when it comes to scenes of parents and kids,I do get sentimental & a little emotional but then seeing Johnson & daughter reunited is a wonderful touching end to the film.

One laughable scene in the movie is when Johnson & Gabor are in the Monte Carlo car race and they skid in the rain into a wooden fence. The skidding is clearly a stock-recorded sound effect,that sounds like it's from a Warner Brothers cartoon!

I rate five stars for the above listed reasons,the acting is good here but some aspects are just too unbelievable to accept. (Beware of $1 DVD copies of this movie,their quality is poor.) (END)
The story is not so in depth to allow it to come to life as a novel or a feature length movie.

It is interesting to read the reviews after seeing the movie. No 2 reviews are alike. This speaks volumes as to how the film actually affects those who see it. The viewers take away vastly different aspects of the film to discuss.

The opinion this reviewer has is that the film is not as drudgingly long as some reviewers have noted. Also, while Van Johnson is always a bit wooden in his roles, he is not as awful as he is made out to be in some other reviews. The film boasts a fine cast and had some money behind it and there are some nice aspects to the story. This reviewer did not particularly mind watching the film.

The problem is that the story is not fully fleshed to be a full length movie. There is no central point to the story to carry it to the length of a feature film. There is little purpose or philosophy that comes through as an overriding thematic. Van and Elizabeth play self destructive characters who suffer tragedy via doing some dumb things but...so what? Who really cares about dumb people doing dumb things? The emotional draw of the story never comes out. The emotion is stifled by the story; not by Van Johnson's acting. But...that is why this remained a short story that delved into the mind of the character pining for his lost daughter. There's just no emotional payoff with the characters that warrants nearly 2 hours of screen time.

Still, compared to most of what passes for drama these days the film is far superior to what is released today. That's a sad commentary on film making and story writing today.

One other note: For a story that is set in Paris there is little sense that any of the action occurs in Paris. This ties into the script. Rather than using known aspects of Paris to enhance the flavor of the story there is little to utilize the location. The title of the film could be The Last Time I Saw New York City and nothing would materially change in the film.

If you are interested in film and story telling and the history of cinema I recommend giving the movie a viewing to familiarize yourself with it. Some parts work well (Elizabeth Taylor as the woman in the fountain immortalized in a full wall mural in a bar) but some parts...notably the fatherdaughteraunt relationship at the end...just comes off flat. The film is a mix of good and not so good and the mix of good and not so good reviews is a good reflection of the movie.
This movie appealed so much to me initially because my mom and dad physically remind me an awful lot of Van & Liz. But after I started watching it (I first saw this movie in the 80s), I fell in love with the story itself. It will break your heart if you have one.

As most all old movies go, it glosses/speeds over a lot of the character study and plot development that we come to appreciate in today's movies, as older movies tended to pick up the pace too quickly to enjoy an in-depth look at a relationship or a particular character, but I imagine that it would really break your heart if it had dug that deep in the script.

If you want or expect the entire story to crumble at the end, you need psychological help. There was no need for a complete and total tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, and the end was very plausible and necessary and is certainly more believable than the flip side would be. It amazes me that most people look for believability in a script, including myself, as we basically go to a movie to escape believability, i.e., reality, but in this case, what you see is closer to the truth that anything. Furthermore, if my life is screwed up, I don't want to watch a story turn out just like my screwed-up life. I don't want others or the entire world around me to reflect that pain. To do so would be at least masochistic and surely heartless, petty and childish. If you're like that, do yourself and the world a favor and get some help --- we need more understanding and more happy endings in this world.

Look for Zsa Zsa (yes, she actually did act at one time) and a young Roger Moore, and for all you trivia buffs, check out the character named Claude that plays Donna Reed's husband. His name is George Dolenz. Recognize the last name? --- He's the father of Micky Dolenz from The Monkees!
Come on, IMDb-ers! Check the credits for a film before you embarrass yourselves. It was Eva Gabor, not her sister, Zsa Zsa, who had a small role in this film. Mama Jolie and her glamorous daughters are a part of the American celebrity/entertainment scene that so many of us remember rather fondly and Eva, among them, was quite a charming actress. (Check out her appearances in Minnelli's "Gigi" and the Paul Newman/Joanne Woodward clunker, "A New Kind of Love," in which Eva almost stole the show, despite the presence of Thelma Ritter who usually carried off that particular prize.)

"The Last Time I Saw Paris" was typical mid-Fifties high gloss soap opera from M-G-M, and it's a bit of a surprise that Richard Brooks was the director, since he's noted for somewhat more topical and/or hard-hitting stuff. But, as a look back at the gorgeous Elizabeth emoting most fetchingly at the peak of her camera-worthiness, this one can hardly be beat.
Donna Reed plays an American-ish girl in France whom Johnson obliviously throws aside for her slutty, bimbo sister played by Liz Taylor. The movie becomes an endless series of similar scenes that have Van Johnson meeting with Liz Taylor. It has little forward momentum.

Having never said a word to Van Johnson about her love (& the screenwriters not supplying her with a personality or any likable quality), Donna Reed carries a torch for like a decade and behaves as if Liz stole her man - despite the fact that Donna only knew him, at most, an hour longer, and only said about twelve words to him. Admittedly Liz is a crappy, evil sister, and Johnson is a heel, but Reed is passive & prematurely bitter. So no one really carries your interest. It's a rare movie that asks you to consider two figures as unlikeable as Johnson and Taylor as the leads. And it's maudlin.

The DVD transfer is very bad. It looks like you're watching the movie through wet gauze after someone punched you in both eyes.

I love Paris but there are other, better ways to enjoy a cinema trip to France.
A first-rate drama from Richard Brooks. Excellent acting. Well done, albeit a somewhat tragic ending. Van Johnson appears miscast at first, however, as the plot unfolds, he plays his part very convincingly. Liz Taylor is, as always, quite lovely. A must-see if you're a 1950's Taylor fan.