Naive, by the book French police officer Nester Patou, is transferred to the Red Light district. Upon witnessing what must be a brothel, he calls the station and organizes a raid, transporting all the ‘ladies’ to the jail. This unfortunately disrupts the well organized system of the police and the Pimps union. Not to mention inadvertently netting his station superior at the brothel. Fired, he goes to a bar to drink, is befriended by Irma, beats up her pimp, and finds he is now Irma’s new pimp. Nester’s doesn’t like the thought of his girl seeing other men, so comes up with a plan.
In Paris, after six months working with children, the decorated rookie policeman Nestor Patou (Jack Lemmon) is assigned to work in the red light district on the Casanova Street, a place crowded of streetwalkers, pimps and corrupt police officers. The honest Nestor, who is naive and strictly by the book, notes the movement of couples in the Casanova Hotel and befriends the prostitute Irma La Douce (Shirley MacLaine) believing that she is a lady. When he discovers that she is also a streetwalker, he calls the central station for a raid in the hotel. However, among the arrested costumers is the corrupt Chief of Police Lefevre (Herschel Bernardi) that has a scheme with the pimps union. Nestor is fired with a dirty record and has difficulties to find a new job; he goes to the bistro of the versatile and experienced Moustache (Lou Jacobi) to drink, and he starts a conversation with Irma La Douce. However, her bully pimp Hippolyte (Bruce Yarnell) fights against Nestor, but he beats him up. Irma brings Nestor home and he becomes Irma’s pimp. However he falls in love for her and he is jealous when she meets a client. He decides to create the wealthy British Lord X to be the only regular client of Irma. But things go wrong when Nestor is jealous of Lord X and decides to end his character.
“Irma la Douce” is a delightful fairytale of the fantastic Billy Wilder, certainly one of the five top-directors of Hollywood ever. Based on a play, this delicious romantic comedy has witty and cynical screenplay and dialogs, supported by the chemistry of the charming and gorgeous Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon, who had worked together three years ago in the masterpiece “The Apartment”. Lou Jacobi plays a skilled man in hilarious situations. The lines of Jack Lemmon playing a British lord are very funny. My vote is eight.