Mademoiselle from Armentières

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

"Mademoiselle from Armentières" was a song that was particularly popular during World War I. It is also known by its ersatz French line, Hinky Dinky Parlez-vous (variant: Parley voo).


Mademoiselle from Armentières was considered a risqué song, and when sung on the radio and TV, as in The Waltons, typically only the first verse was sung. The lyrics on which this opinion is based are recorded in the Gordon "Inferno" Collection.

It is also the third part (the first two being "Has Anyone Seen the Colonel?" and "It's a Long Way to Tipperary") of the regimental march of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

The tune of the song was believed to be popular in the French army in the 1830s, and the original words told of the encounter of an inn-keeper's daughter, named Mademoiselle de Bar le Duc, with two German officers. During the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, the tune was resurrected, and again in 1914 when the Old Contemptibles got to know of it.

Mademoiselle from Armentières was also the name of a 1926 British film directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Estelle Brody.

During World War II the comic duo Flanagan and Allen had a hit with Mademoiselle from Armentières [A. K. A. "If a grey-haired lady says 'How's yer father?'"] (1940), with other music and lyrics written by Ted Waite, referring to the original song.

When Lindisfarne played their song We Can Swing Together on stage in the early 1970s, it developed into a lengthy harmonica medley which included a verse and chorus from this as well as several other songs, some also traditional.

Three German Officers Crossed the Rhine is a song with much more ribald set of lyrics, but sung to the same tune. It was originally sung in the trenches during the First World War.[1]


There are several claims to having written the lyrics for this song:

  • Edward Rowland and a Canadian composer, Gitz Rice
  • Harry Carlton and Joe Tunbridge
  • the famous British songwriter Harry Wincott
  • Alfred Charles Montin wrote "Mademoiselle Fram Armentières" while stationed in France and composed the music for "The Caissons Go Rolling Along" at Fort Sheridan, Ill., shortly before his unit was transferred to Fort Sill. The lyrics for the artillery march were written by Brig. Gen. Edmund L. Gruber, when he was a second lieutenant. Montin was born and raised in Nice, France. He migrated to the United States and started a tour of duty as an army band director in the days when the band was an important regimental organization. Also included in his music career was a tour with the famed John Philip Sousa Band.”,[2][3]

The song was first recorded in 1915 by Jack Charman.

Television references[edit]

On I Love Lucy, with Fred Mertz a veteran of the First World War, the song is referenced several times including the episodes entitled Equal Rights and The Passports.

Lucy Carmichael (Lucille Ball) references the song in "Lucy and the French Movie Star", the third episode of the sixth season of The Lucy Show.

In season 3 episode 3 of Malcolm in the Middle, Roy the truck driver makes Francis sing this song while wearing a red clown wig.

In episode 113 of The Golden Girls, entitled "Ebb Tide," Sophia sings a variation of the song with a group of guests, to whom she is renting rooms while Blanche and Dorothy are out of town.

"The first Marine, he found the bean, parlez-vous.
The second Marine, he cooked the bean, parlez-vous.
The third Marine, he ate the bean and blew apart the submarine.
Inky dinky parlez-vous."

The song is sung at the very end of the serial Parade's End.

In episode 612 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the song is started by the "United Servo Academy Men's Chorus", only for Mike Nelson to try and stop them from singing the song just as the show goes to commercial break.

The song was the tune of Clarabell's theme song from Howdy Doody.

A variation of the song's tune was the theme song for the early 1970s cartoon series, Around the World in Eighty Days.

On season 1, episode 11 of Cheers, a garbled first verse was attempted by the gang of Cheers to lighten the spirits of a World War I veteran who had realized that he was the only member of his unit to appear at their scheduled reunion.

In Season 8 Episode 12 of M*A*S*H, a suggestion is made to find a song to describe the Korean conflict, to mirror the songs from World War II and World War I. B.J. Hunnicutt comically suggests a variant of this song, changing the lyrics to "There's Mademoiselles in Panmunjom uijeongbu".

Fred Sanford sings the song in the season 2 Sanford and Son episode "Whiplash."

See also[edit]

Wally Bastian


  1. ^ "The First World War Poetry Digital Archive – Three German Officers crossed the Rhine". 
  2. ^ "In Years Past - - News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Jamestown - Post-Journal". 
  3. ^ "Eureka Humboldt Standard from Eureka, California · Page 7". 

External links[edit]