Le petit café (1931)

83 mins | Musical comedy | 1931

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HISTORY

This was the French-language version of the 1930 film, Playboy of Paris , which was directed by Ludwig Berger and starred Maurice Chevalier and Frances Dee (eee entry below). Both versions were produced at Paramount's Hollywood studios. While Var lists the running time of Le petit café as 64 minutes, this is probably incorrect, as FD lists 83 minutes and the running time calculated from footage given in NYSA records is 87 minutes. The French version did not open in Paris until 8 May 1931. Var commented about the French version, "It is so much better than the original English version and Chevalier's work in it is so much superior to that in any of his American films in English....He is more at ease in his own language, acts with more abandon, does the same Chevalier tricks with a more Chevalierish air. His best American appearances result as imitations of the real Maurice."
       Var noted that the French version contained several songs that were not in the English-language version. Chevalier, who attended the New York premiere, and actress Yvonne Vallée were married at the time of this film. According to modern sources, this was the only film Vallée made in the U.S. In 1919, a comedy based on the same source was made in France starring Max Linder and directed by Raymond Bernard, the son of playwright Tristan Bernard. According to modern sources, Chevalier, desiring to remake the Linder film, encouraged Paramount to purchase the ... More Less

This was the French-language version of the 1930 film, Playboy of Paris , which was directed by Ludwig Berger and starred Maurice Chevalier and Frances Dee (eee entry below). Both versions were produced at Paramount's Hollywood studios. While Var lists the running time of Le petit café as 64 minutes, this is probably incorrect, as FD lists 83 minutes and the running time calculated from footage given in NYSA records is 87 minutes. The French version did not open in Paris until 8 May 1931. Var commented about the French version, "It is so much better than the original English version and Chevalier's work in it is so much superior to that in any of his American films in English....He is more at ease in his own language, acts with more abandon, does the same Chevalier tricks with a more Chevalierish air. His best American appearances result as imitations of the real Maurice."
       Var noted that the French version contained several songs that were not in the English-language version. Chevalier, who attended the New York premiere, and actress Yvonne Vallée were married at the time of this film. According to modern sources, this was the only film Vallée made in the U.S. In 1919, a comedy based on the same source was made in France starring Max Linder and directed by Raymond Bernard, the son of playwright Tristan Bernard. According to modern sources, Chevalier, desiring to remake the Linder film, encouraged Paramount to purchase the property. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
25 Jan 1931
p. 11.
New York Times
25 Jan 1931
Sec. VIII, p. 5.
Variety
28 Jan 1931
p. 40.
Variety
27 May 1931
p. 57.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Le petit café by Tristan Bernard (Paris, 12 Oct 1911).
SONGS
Music by Richard A. Whiting and Newell Chase, lyrics by Jacques Bataille-Henri.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Playboy of Paris
Release Date:
1931
Premiere Information:
San Francisco opening: 15 January 1931
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
83
Length(in feet):
7,839
Country:
United States
Language:
French
SYNOPSIS

[The following plot summary is based on the English-language version of this film, Playboy of Paris ; character names refer to that version.] Yvonne, daughter of Philibert, a Paris café owner, is in love with dreamy, blundering Albert, a waiter, though he pays little attention to her. Philibert plans to marry his daughter to a wealthy Parisian, but upon learning that Albert is to come into a large inheritance, he conspires to place him under a longterm contract, confident that he willingly will pay a forfeit to break it. Albert, however, elects to remain a waiter by day and devote his nights to a gay social life with Mlle. Bérengère, a gold digger; he drops dishes and insults patrons, but Philibert will not discharge him. Angrily, Yvonne follows him to a rendezvous with Bérengère at a restaurant and denounces him as a waiter, precipitating a fight between the two girls. Albert defends Yvonne against another gentleman and is challenged to a duel--but the man refuses to fight a waiter. Insulted, Albert slaps him, but Yvonne faints from fright, and all ends happily as Albert realizes his love for ... +


[The following plot summary is based on the English-language version of this film, Playboy of Paris ; character names refer to that version.] Yvonne, daughter of Philibert, a Paris café owner, is in love with dreamy, blundering Albert, a waiter, though he pays little attention to her. Philibert plans to marry his daughter to a wealthy Parisian, but upon learning that Albert is to come into a large inheritance, he conspires to place him under a longterm contract, confident that he willingly will pay a forfeit to break it. Albert, however, elects to remain a waiter by day and devote his nights to a gay social life with Mlle. Bérengère, a gold digger; he drops dishes and insults patrons, but Philibert will not discharge him. Angrily, Yvonne follows him to a rendezvous with Bérengère at a restaurant and denounces him as a waiter, precipitating a fight between the two girls. Albert defends Yvonne against another gentleman and is challenged to a duel--but the man refuses to fight a waiter. Insulted, Albert slaps him, but Yvonne faints from fright, and all ends happily as Albert realizes his love for her. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.