Is Paris Burning?
|Is Paris Burning?|
|Directed by||René Clément|
|Produced by||Paul Graetz|
|Written by||Gore Vidal
Francis Ford Coppola
|Music by||Maurice Jarre|
|Edited by||Robert Lawrence|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||173 minutes|
Is Paris Burning? (French: Paris brûle-t-il ?) is a 1966 film directed by René Clément, starring an ensemble cast, about the 1944 liberation of Paris by the French Resistance and the Free French Forces during World War II. The script was based on the book of the same title by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre.
Shortly after the failed 1944 20 July plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler (Billy Frick), he appoints General Dietrich von Choltitz (Gert Fröbe) as military governor of occupied Paris. Hitler believes von Choltitz will obey his order to not let the Allies capture Paris without the Germans destroying it completely, similar to the planned destruction of Warsaw.
The French Resistance learn that the Allies aren't planning to take Paris, but are heading straight for Germany instead. The two factions within the Resistance react to this news differently. The Gaullists want to wait and see, while the Communists want to take action. The Communists force the issue by calling for a general uprising by the citizens of Paris and by occupying important government buildings. The Gaullists go along with this plan of action once it is set in motion.
Initially von Choltitz is intent on following his order to level the city. After his troops fail to dislodge the Resistance from the Prefecture of Police, he orders the German air force to bomb the building but withdraws the order at the urging of the Swedish Consul, Raoul Nordling (Orson Welles) who points out that bombs that miss the Prefecture risk destroying nearby culturally invaluable buildings such as the Notre Dame Cathedral. von Choltitz accepts a truce offer from the Resistance (conceived by the Gaullist faction), but the Communists want to keep fighting (in spite of a lack of ammunition). The truce is therefore shortened to one day and the fighting resumes.
After learning that the Germans plan to destroy Paris (the Eiffel Tower and other landmarks are rigged with explosives), a messenger from the Resistance is sent across enemy lines to contact the Americans. He implores the Allies to act and afterwards General Eisenhower gives the Free French Forces under General Charles de Gaulle the go-ahead to move on Paris.
As the military situation deteriorates, von Choltitz delays the order to destroy Paris, believing that Hitler is insane and that the war is lost, making the destruction of Paris a futile gesture. He instead chooses to surrender shortly after the Allies enter the city.
As the Free French Forces and de Gaulle parade down the streets of Paris, greeted by cheering crowds, a phone receiver off the hook is seen with a voice in German repeatedly asking "is Paris burning?" From the air, Paris is seen, its buildings still standing.
The film is based on the best-selling book by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre and was directed by René Clément, from a screenplay by Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola. The music is by Maurice Jarre. Jarre's music for "The Paris Waltz" later had words added by Maurice Vidalin and became a patriotic anthem sung by Mireille Mathieu under the title Paris en colère.
Is Paris Burning? stars Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Gert Fröbe, Orson Welles, Anthony Perkins, Robert Stack, Charles Boyer, Yves Montand, Leslie Caron, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Simone Signoret, and Alain Delon. It was filmed in 180 sites. Claude Rich plays two parts: General Leclerc, with a moustache, and Lt Pierre de la Fouchardière, without a moustache. He is credited at the end only with the part of Leclerc. His role as the young lieutenant is not by chance; Claude Rich, as a teenager, was watching soldiers in the street when the real-life Pierre de la Fouchardière called him into a building to protect him.
The film is almost entirely in black and white, presumably to better blend the documentary stock footage that is included in the film (the film was shot in black and white mainly because, although the French authorities would allow swastika flags to be displayed on public buildings for key shots, they would not permit those flags to be in their original red color; as a result, green swastika flags were used, which photographed adequately in black and white but would have been entirely the wrong color), but the closing credits feature aerial shots of Paris in color. The entire film was shot on location in Paris.
- Alain Delon as Jacques Chaban-Delmas
- Jean-Paul Belmondo as Morandat/Pierrelot
- Charles Boyer as Monod
- Gert Fröbe as Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz
- Leslie Caron as Françoise Labe
- George Chakiris as G.I. in tank
- Jean-Pierre Cassel as Lt. Henri Karcher
- Anthony Perkins as Sgt. Warren
- Kirk Douglas as Gen. George Patton
- Simone Signoret as Cafe proprietress
- Orson Welles as Consul Raoul Nordling
- Glenn Ford as Gen. Omar Bradley
- Yves Montand as Marcel Bizien
- Robert Stack as Gen. Edwin Sibert
- Marie Versini as Claire Morandat
- Skip Ward as GI with Warren
- Bruno Cremer as Col. Henri Rol-Tanguy
- Claude Dauphin as Colonel Lebel
- Pierre Dux as Parodi/Cerat
- Daniel Gélin as Yves Bayet
- Michel Piccoli as Edgard Pisani
- Sacha Pitoëff as Frédéric Joliot-Curie
- Claude Rich as Gen. Jacques Leclerc
- Jean-Louis Trintignant as Capt. Serge
- Pierre Vaneck as Maj. Roger Gallois
- Ernst Fritz Fürbringer as von Boineburg
- Jean-Pierre Zola as Cpl. Mayer
- Pascal Fardoulis as Gilet
- Jo Warfield as Major with Chaban-Delmas
- Henia Suchar as Prefecture switchboard operator
- Clara Gansard as Wife of Col. Rol
- Joelle Latour as Young girl with Warren
- Michel Puterflam as Laffont
- Felix Marten as Landrieu
- Roger Lumont as "Jade Amicol"
- Jean-Pierre Honore as Alain Perpezat
- Karl-Otto Alberty as SS officer, Bayeux Tapestry thief
- Aime DeMarch as Roland Pre
- Hubert DeLapparent as Huissier Matignon
- Pierre Mirat as Cafe proprietor
- Jean Negroni as Villon
- Peter Neusser as SS officer, Bayeux Tapestry thief
- Konrad Georg as Model
- Claus Holm as Huhm
- Joachim Hansen as Commandant, Fresnes prison
- Georges Géret as Cmdr. George
- Billy Frick as Adolf Hitler
- Hannes Messemer as General Alfred Jodl
- Harry Meyen as Lieutenant von Arnim
- Peter Jacob as Gen. Burgdorf
- Billy Kearns as Patton aide
- Michel Lonsdale as Jacques Debu-Bridel
- Pierre Collet as Resistance policeman
- Georges Claisse as Intern with Monod
- Bernard Fresson as Liaison agent
- Michel Etcheverry as Prefet Luizet
- Paul Crauchet as the Curé
- Suzy Delair as a Parisienne
- Jean Valmont as F.F.I. bazookaman
- Serge Rousseau as Col. Fabien
- Albert Rémy as the Gendarme
- Wolfgang Preiss as Capt. Ebernach
- Georges Staquet as Capt. Dronne
- Jean-Michel Rouziere as Gentleman with the dog
- Helmuth Schneider as German metro Adjutant
- Maria Machado as Stella
- Günter Meisner as SS Commandant Pantin
- E.G. Marshall as Intelligence Officer Powell
- Georges Poujouly as Landrieux
- Del Negro as Officer with Chaban-Delmas
Awards and honors
In popular culture