French Postcards

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For the historic postcards featuring nude women, see French postcard.
French Postcards
DVD cover for the film
Directed by Willard Huyck
Produced by Gloria Katz
Written by Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz
Starring Miles Chapin
Blanche Baker
David Marshall Grant
Valérie Quennessen
Debra Winger
Mandy Patinkin
Marie-France Pisier
Jean Rochefort
Music by Lee Holdridge
Cinematography Bruno Nuytten
Edited by Carol Littleton
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) 19 October 1979
Running time 95 min.
Country United States
Language English

French Postcards is a 1979 film starring Miles Chapin, Blanche Baker, David Marshall Grant, Valérie Quennessen, Debra Winger, Mandy Patinkin, Marie-France Pisier and Jean Rochefort about a group of American exchange students who spend a year studying in Paris. Madame Catherine Tessier (Marie-France Pisier), who with her husband, Monsieur Tessier (Jean Rochefort), directs and teaches at "The Institute", takes special interest in Alex (David Marshall Grant), whose real ambition is to experience Parisian life; Madame Tessier's interest extends beyond the classroom and into her bedroom. Debra Winger and Mandy Patinkin co-star in this comic coming-of-age tale co-written by American Graffiti scripters Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, who also directs.


The story line primarily follows three American students as they feel their ways through a year of studies at The Institute in Paris: Laura (Blanche Baker), who ostensibly narrates the goings-on of the film with the postcards she sends to her boyfriend back home; Alex (David Marshall Grant), whose interests aren't so much in studying but with love and life in Paris; and Joel (Miles Chapin), who can't quite seem to live with the courage of his convictions. Alex becomes ensnared in a tryst with his instructor (and the Institute's co-director Madam Tessier (Marie-France Pisier), while Joel falls in love with a local bookstore employee, Toni (Valérie Quennessen). Real American students were used as extras in the movie, they were selected from the Sorbonne program and most were students from the Central College (Pella, Iowa) year in France program. In fact, several of the students were followed for several months and the plot of the movie was created based on experiences that these students had during their year in Paris. For example, the student who claimed that he would speak only French was a real person named Mark from Xavier college. He did not speak a word of French when he arrived and he spoke only French when he started his year there. Another student, Lori, also from Xavier college, was the girl the story was based on who would send the postcards to her boyfriend back home. The story about the girl who has a dinner date with an older french man who seduced her actually happened. She told me all of the details of the evening. The girl who wanted to attend the Passion Play at Oberammergau was also true. She actually went to it. The story about the girls who wanted to see all of the museums in Paris was also true, we would go to a museum every weekend. We didn't know at the time that we were being watched and our stories were being recorded for this movie. At the beginning of the year we were paid $80 a day for two days to go to Orly airport and act as extras. There was one girl who didn't seem to be a regular student, her name was Monica, she would hang out with us and go on trips with us, but she never stayed in the same hotel. She was very well dressed. I always assumed it was she who was the "spy" and concocted the stories for the movie that was later released as "French Postcards". It wasn't until 1993 that I finally saw the movie and was quite shocked that the stories in the movie were the stories that I and my friends lived while in Paris.


[Lynne Chadwick] as ?


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