Paris Blues (1961)

Two young  women (Diahann Carroll and Joanne Woodward) are on vacation in Paris, where they meet two fellow Americans, both jazz-musicians (Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier). Diahann's character soon falls for the difficult to pin down Eddie (Poitier), who has moved to Paris because, as he says "Here in Paris I'm Eddie Cook, musician - period; not Eddie Cook, Negro musician". Diahann's character, wrapped up in civil rights issues, wants him to come back to America with her, and fight to make things better, instead of flee from the problems.  The other main plot is of course the romance between Newman and (his real-life wife) Woodward, but here the story is more like "shall I stay and do my jazz-concerto, or go back to the U.S. and marry this girl I've just met".
  Based on a novel Harold Flender and directed by Martin Ritt, this 1961 UA release also co-starred Serge Reggiani and had a special appearance by Louis Armstrong.
  For Diahann Carroll this was a stormy period on a personal level. Her on-and-off relationship with co-star Sidney Poitier went through many ups and downs. They knew it was "forbidden love", as both were already married, but the attraction was overwhelming. (Ms. Carroll openly writes about this destructive relationship in her 1986 memoirs, Diahann!)  Sidney and Diahann planned to run off to Sweden to get married, and to return to New York as a couple, but this never happened. Ms. Carroll divorced her husband, but Mr. Poitier never divorced his wife.
  About Paris Blues, Diahann said in an interview for Mamm Magazine in 1998, "I think that Paris Blues is a very important film. It was very sophisticated, and Martin's [director Martin Ritt] complete lack of racism permeated the piece. Five minutes into it, no one concentrated on the fact that one couple was black and the other was white." Paul Newman flirts with Diahann in one of the opening scenes, something United Artists tried to challenge. "Marty Ritt said, 'Why is he going to walk by a woman who looks like this without even making a comment?' /../ This was at a time when movie money was being spent more foolishly, so they flew about 8 million people to Paris to look at me, and the scene stayed in."
  Also during her stay in Paris, Ms. Carroll made a guest stint in a Ingrid Bergman motion picture called Goodbye Again (see own entry).


Paul Newman ... Ram Bowen
Joanne Woodward ... Lillian Corning
Sidney Poitier ... Eddie Cook
Louis Armstrong ... Wild Man Moore
Diahann Carroll ... Connie Lampson
Barbara Laage ... Marie Seoul
André Luguet ... Rene Bernard
Marie Versini ... Nicole
Moustache ... Drummer
Aaron Bridgers ... Pianist
Guy Pederson ... Bass Player
Serge Reggiani ... Michel Duvigne

Directed by Martin Ritt
Written by Walter Bernstein
Based on a novel by Harold Flender
The film's soundrack was written by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington. Mr. Ellington was nominated for an Oscar as well as a Grammy for best score.

The movie premiered September 27, 1961.


Released on VHS:
MGM/UA Home Video #M203058, USA 1993. Re-released on VHS in 2000.
Released on DVD:
Optimum Classic OPTD1348, UK 2008

Please note that this movie has yet to be released on DVD in the USA.

The music in a movie about two jazz musicians is of course very important, and who could do the job better than Duke Ellington.The soundtrack has been re-released on CD courtsey of Ryko (RCD 10713, USA 1997), which also includes an enhanced CD feature in the form of the original theatrical trailer.


EXTERNAL LINKS (Opens in new window)

Paris Blues on
Paris Blues on Wikipedia