French Postcards (1979)

PG | 94 mins | Romantic comedy | 19 October 1979

Director:

Willard Huyck

Producer:

Gloria Katz

Cinematographer:

Bruno Nuytten

Editor:

Carol Littleton

Production Designer:

Jean-Pierre Kohut-Svelko

Production Company:

NF Geria III mbH
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HISTORY

While actress Véronique Jannot has her name spelled correctly at the beginning of the end credits, her last name is misspelled later onscreen in the cast list as "Janot."
       End credits include the written acknowledgement, "Special thanks to the American students in Paris, 1978-1979."
       The film marked the feature film directorial and production debuts of writers Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, respectively. The married couple had collaborated on previous scripts, most notably American Graffiti (1973, see entry). According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the story of French Postcards was inspired by their personal experiences abroad as young adults. Huyck studied in Paris, France, during his junior year of college and Katz was traveling through Europe around the same time. While conducting research for the film, they interviewed Huyck’s former French instructors as well as American students currently studying in Paris. Huyck noted that the play performed in the film was the same “sophomoric” play that he penned for his school in Paris.
       As described in a 13 Oct 1978 DV article, the project was financed through an arrangement between Paramount Pictures Corp. and Geria, a film-investment consortium based in Munich, West Germany, backed by German tax shelter groups.
       During the two and a half months of casting in CA, NY and Paris, approximately four hundred actors auditioned for the student parts. In the role of “Alex,” David Marshall Grant made his motion picture debut.
       Katz and Huyck intentionally assembled a small crew of young local technicians who had never worked on an American picture, but were experienced within the French film ... More Less

While actress Véronique Jannot has her name spelled correctly at the beginning of the end credits, her last name is misspelled later onscreen in the cast list as "Janot."
       End credits include the written acknowledgement, "Special thanks to the American students in Paris, 1978-1979."
       The film marked the feature film directorial and production debuts of writers Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, respectively. The married couple had collaborated on previous scripts, most notably American Graffiti (1973, see entry). According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the story of French Postcards was inspired by their personal experiences abroad as young adults. Huyck studied in Paris, France, during his junior year of college and Katz was traveling through Europe around the same time. While conducting research for the film, they interviewed Huyck’s former French instructors as well as American students currently studying in Paris. Huyck noted that the play performed in the film was the same “sophomoric” play that he penned for his school in Paris.
       As described in a 13 Oct 1978 DV article, the project was financed through an arrangement between Paramount Pictures Corp. and Geria, a film-investment consortium based in Munich, West Germany, backed by German tax shelter groups.
       During the two and a half months of casting in CA, NY and Paris, approximately four hundred actors auditioned for the student parts. In the role of “Alex,” David Marshall Grant made his motion picture debut.
       Katz and Huyck intentionally assembled a small crew of young local technicians who had never worked on an American picture, but were experienced within the French film industry and brought a “quick and very free style,” allowing the production to adapt more easily to changing circumstances. The filmmakers felt that the “film school” atmosphere behind-the-scenes complemented the young cast and enhanced the story on screen. Editor Carol Littleton was the only American crewmember who accompanied Katz and Huyck to France.
       Following six months of pre-production, principal photography began 2 Oct 1978 and continued until late Dec 1978, as mentioned in production notes and a 14 Aug 1978 DV brief. The film was shot at approximately sixty locations in and around Paris.
       As noted in a 23 Aug 1979 article from Toronto, Canada’s The Globe and Mail, the world premiere occurred at the 1979 World Film Festival in Montreal, Canada. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
14 Aug 1978.
---
Daily Variety
13 Oct 1978
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 1979
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
26 Oct 1979
Section G, p. 23.
New York Times
19 Oct 1979
p. 8.
The Globe and Mail
23 Aug 1979
p. 15.
Variety
12 Sep 1979
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Katz/Huyck Film
A Geria Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Apprentice dir
Asst unit mgr
Apprentice unit mgr
Apprentice unit mgr
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam op
2d asst cam op
Still photog
Apprentice op
Gaffer
Key grip
ART DIRECTORS
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop buyer
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus ed
Loc mus arr
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup
Asst makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Casting
Casting
Loc auditor
Extra casting
Dial coach
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod secy
Prod secy
Laboratory processing
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Do You Believe In Magic," by John Sebastian, French language translation by Molly Ann Leikin, sung by Richard Anthony
"J'Ecoute De La Musique Saoule," by M. Jonasz and G. Yared, performed by Françoise Hardy, courtesy of Pathé Marconi EMI
"Just One Look," by Gregory Carroll and Doris Payne, performed by Linda Ronstadt, courtesy of Elektra/Asylum Records
+
SONGS
"Do You Believe In Magic," by John Sebastian, French language translation by Molly Ann Leikin, sung by Richard Anthony
"J'Ecoute De La Musique Saoule," by M. Jonasz and G. Yared, performed by Françoise Hardy, courtesy of Pathé Marconi EMI
"Just One Look," by Gregory Carroll and Doris Payne, performed by Linda Ronstadt, courtesy of Elektra/Asylum Records
"Rock And Roll Never Forgets," written and performed by Bob Seger, courtesy of Capitol Records
"(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman," by R. D. Davies, performed by The Kinks, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
"Ou Est Ma Ch'Mise Grise (You're The One That I Want)," by John Farrar, performed by Patrick Topaloff and Sim, courtesy of Bigoudi Music
"Bernard's Song," written and performed by Véronique Sanson, courtesy of WEA Filipacchi Music
"French Waltz," by Adam Mitchell, performed by Nicolette Larson, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
"Keh Keh Dar Mizane," by Nacer Cheshmazer, courtesy of Soundex Enterprises, Inc.
"The Thing Of It Is," by John Kander and Fred Ebb
"Take Five," by Paul Desmond, performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet, courtesy of Columbia Records and Kadan, Ltd.
"Oui, Va Plus Loin (Walk On By)," by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, performed by Richard Anthony, coutesy of Pathé Marconi EMI
"You Don't Know Paree," by Cole Porter
"Doggy Rock," by Patrick Fierry
"Lotta Love," by Neil Young, performed by Nicolette Larson, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
"Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" by Carole King and Jerry Goffin, sung by Jeane Manson.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
19 October 1979
Premiere Information:
World Premiere in Montreal, Canada: 1979 World Film Festival
New York opening at the Baronet Theater: 19 October 1979
Los Angeles opening: 26 October 1979
Production Date:
began 2 October--late December 1978 in Paris, France
Copyright Claimant:
N F Geria III, Filmgesellschaft m.b.H.
Copyright Date:
16 January 1980
Copyright Number:
PA54754
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
94
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
France, Germany, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1978, Joel, Alex and Laura are among the American college students who enroll at the Institute for French Studies in Paris, France, for their junior year abroad. During orientation, they are addressed by the stern Monsieur Albert Tessier, a former Sorbonne professor, who now runs the Institute along with his elegant wife, Madame Tessier. Although Albert is disgruntled about educating American youth, he also enjoys the profitable earnings from the school, which afford him and his wife a luxurious lifestyle. Meanwhile, Laura obsessively explores France's historical sites on her own since her boyfriend was unable to join her in Paris as she had hoped. Initially, Joel has a difficult time adjusting, but his culture shock eases when he encounters Toni, an attractive young French woman, who works at a stationery store. In contrast, Joel’s roommate, Alex, an aspiring songwriter, envisions the school year as a romantic European adventure. When Madame Tessier reprimands Alex for neglecting his studies, he becomes infatuated with the directress and later secretly follows her shopping. He is surprised to learn that behind her stylish French facade, Madame Tessier adores American products and owns a Corvette sports car. Arriving home from a night on the town, Alex finds Joel watching an episode of “Star Trek” on television dubbed in French. After Alex urges his “shut-in” roommate to explore Paris instead, Joel calls the stationery shop to ask Toni for a date. However, another clerk answers the telephone and plays a practical joke by pretending to be Toni. When Joel arrives at Toni’s apartment, he is humiliated to discover that she is not expecting ... +


In 1978, Joel, Alex and Laura are among the American college students who enroll at the Institute for French Studies in Paris, France, for their junior year abroad. During orientation, they are addressed by the stern Monsieur Albert Tessier, a former Sorbonne professor, who now runs the Institute along with his elegant wife, Madame Tessier. Although Albert is disgruntled about educating American youth, he also enjoys the profitable earnings from the school, which afford him and his wife a luxurious lifestyle. Meanwhile, Laura obsessively explores France's historical sites on her own since her boyfriend was unable to join her in Paris as she had hoped. Initially, Joel has a difficult time adjusting, but his culture shock eases when he encounters Toni, an attractive young French woman, who works at a stationery store. In contrast, Joel’s roommate, Alex, an aspiring songwriter, envisions the school year as a romantic European adventure. When Madame Tessier reprimands Alex for neglecting his studies, he becomes infatuated with the directress and later secretly follows her shopping. He is surprised to learn that behind her stylish French facade, Madame Tessier adores American products and owns a Corvette sports car. Arriving home from a night on the town, Alex finds Joel watching an episode of “Star Trek” on television dubbed in French. After Alex urges his “shut-in” roommate to explore Paris instead, Joel calls the stationery shop to ask Toni for a date. However, another clerk answers the telephone and plays a practical joke by pretending to be Toni. When Joel arrives at Toni’s apartment, he is humiliated to discover that she is not expecting him and has plans with her boyfriend Pascal. As a solution, Toni proposes that both men take her to dinner and a disco, but throughout the evening Pascal ridicules Joel and criticizes America. Upon returning to Toni’s place, she dismisses the Frenchman and invites Joel, who has charmed her with his pleasant manner, to spend the night. After class, Alex plays one of his songs for Madame Tessier, but she appears unmoved by his infatuation and advises him to finish his literature assignment. However, when she overhears her cheating husband arrange a rendezvous with another woman, she decides to take revenge by seducing Alex. While Albert is out of town, Madame Tessier invites Alex to her house, decorated in “the Eisenhower fifties style,” for an evening that begins with wine and a dip in the hot tub. However, Albert unexpectedly arrives home early as they are undressing in the bedroom. Escaping through the back door, Alex encounters the jealous husband who lunges at him. When Alex realizes that he is a pawn for Madame Tessier’s revenge, he leaves dejected. Meanwhile, Joel and Toni enjoy their romance, until Joel discovers that Toni previously dated another American student from the Institute. The couple argues, and Joel is hurt after Toni calls him a “coward.” Feeling disheartened by their love affairs with French women, Alex and Joel decide to skip classes and take a trip to Spain, but at the last minute, the indecisive Joel disembarks from the train. He returns to the stationery shop and reconciles with Toni. Meanwhile, Laura continues to visit cultural sites. After friends refuse to join her for a medieval festival in Laon, France, she accepts an offer from Darius Sayyid, an Iranian travel agent, to drive her. During the journey, Laura becomes annoyed with Sayyid as he detours to a winery and becomes intoxicated. After they check in to adjoining rooms at a Laon hotel, Sayyid tries to seduce Laura. While struggling with the travel agent, Laura tumbles and is knocked unconscious. Sayyid then flees from the hotel. After recovering, Laura runs to the town square, but the festival has already concluded. In tears and shivering, she curls up on a bench as a rainstorm erupts. Back in Paris, Alex returns from his travels and joins Joel and Toni as they visit Laura in the hospital, where she is recovering from a nervous breakdown. After Laura is released, she and Alex confide in each other about their disappointment and loneliness during the year and consequently begin a romance. At the year-end celebration, the students perform a play written by Joel, who exudes a new confidence and is thrilled that Toni has decided to return to the U.S. with him. However, the couple’s future plans are threatened when their parents surprise them at the theater. Elsewhere backstage, Alex and Laura discuss taking a trip to Greece. As the students gather for a party after the play, Madame Tessier arrives and attempts to resume her seduction of Alex, now that she is separated from Albert. Seeing Madame Tessier kiss Alex on the dance floor, Laura is hurt and leaves. After retreating to another room, Alex rejects Madame Tessier’s flirtation as well as her offer to employ him at the Institute. Meanwhile, in their determination to pursue their own agenda, Joel and Toni escape from their parents. Later, the friends arrive at the airport for their flights to the U.S. While Laura prepares to fly home alone, Alex surprises her with two train tickets to Greece, and she changes her mind to join him. On the way to the departure gate, Joel sees Madame Tessier waiting for the arrival of the next class. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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