Watch Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll Fall In Love In 'Paris Blues'

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by Sergio
November 8, 2012 12:01 AM
6 Comments
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My recent post about Diahann Carroll's enchanting cameo in the 1961 film. Goodbye Again (HERE). got me thinking of about that other black and white film shot in Paris that she was in that same year, Paris Blues.

Like Goodbye Again, Blues was produced by United Artists, and no doubt, Carroll shot her cameo in Again at the same time thst she was working on Blues. Directed by Martin Ritt, a great American director who I still think is terribly underrated (Hud, The Molly Maguires, Norma Rae, Sounder), the film is admittedly rather thin, plot-wise. More of a souffle than a full course meal.

But it's made with real style and has a wonderful vibrant feel to it, no doubt, in large credit to a great score by Duke Ellington. And besides, what city in the world looks more beautiful in black and white than Paris?

The film revolves around two struggling jazz musicians, played by Sidney Poitier and Paul Newman, and their entangled romances with two visiting tourists, played by Newman's real life wife Joanne Woodward and Carroll.

The story involving Newman and Woodard is admittedly not that interesting; its the storyline involving Poitier and Carroll that is the more intriguing. 

Poitier is a sax player who's been living in Paris for the past five years, fleeing the racism he encountered in the States. Carroll is a young teacher who, of course, is immediately smitten with him. But being more socially conscious, she wants Poitier to go back to the states to fight conditions there, instead of what she sees as taking the easy way out and living a carefree life in Paris.

Their scenes together are romantic and charming, and there's a genuine real chemistry and subtle sensuality between them. That shouldn't be surprising, considering that the film was made when both the married Poitier and Carroll were almost two years into an intense private affair, which lasted another seven, disastrously ending in bitterness and both their marriages. Though they made up years ago, and have remained close friends ever since.

The only problem is that one wishes there were more scenes of them together, instead of the dull ones with Newman and the droopy Woodard. Even better, just a film about them alone.

Still it's rare to see a film involving a serious romance between two mature, adult, intelligent black people, and I found the entire film posted on You Tube so you can see for yourself.

It's not a classic in any way, but it sure is refreshing to see to a pair of adult black people in love in a movie.

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6 Comments

  • Ava | November 13, 2012 7:17 PMReply

    I love the look of these Black and White films from the early 60s! I am going to take another look at this one and just feast my eyes on the aesthetics.

  • A. Alyce Claerbaut | November 9, 2012 9:22 AMReply

    Yes, Billy Strayhorn wrote the soundtrack to Paris Blues. I was sitting with him at the piano as he was composing some of that score.

    As President of Billy Strayhorn Songs, Inc., it is my job to enlarge the public's knowledge about Billy Strayhorn. Recent research, a critically acclaimed biography and Emmy Award winning documentary documents the major role of Billy Strayhorn.

    You must remember that Duke Ellington was not only a giant of jazz but he was also a publisher. He controlled all of the music that was created by those who worked for him. Because of this dual relationship, he was able to develop a great catalog that has been passed down through the generations.

    To learn more there is must reading.
    David Hajdu's LUSH LIFE: A BIOGRAPHY OF BILLY STRAYHORN (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1996)
    And for those in academia Walter van de Leur's SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR: THE MUSIC OF BILLY STRAYHORN is a ten-year study of original manuscripts that reveals the extent of the contribution that Strayhorn has made to the Ellington catalog.

    Strayhorn's Centennial is in 2015. Billy Strayhorn Songs invites anyone to participate in some way. Visit our Billy Strayhorn Centennial 2015 Facebook page. Our website is being revised at this time but will soon launch with up to date information on our efforts.

    A. Alyce Claerbaut
    President
    Billy Strayhorn Songs, Inc.

  • jan | November 8, 2012 1:02 PMReply

    Billy Strayhorn also compose the soundtrack not just Duke Ellington! Its common knowledge about Duke taking credit for most of Billy's work!

  • sergio | November 8, 2012 1:28 PM

    You're right about that but Ellington's name is the only one up there on the credits. They had a strange relationship. Why didn't Strayhorn take more credit for his work?

  • HarveyDent322 | November 8, 2012 11:11 AMReply

    Love this movie but I disagree with the write up because the Newman-Woodward romance was just as interesting and even more in some ways with Woodward's character being a divorced mother who was ready to be anything Newman's character wanted to keep him.

    I also liked how originally in the movie that Newman's character was interested in Carroll's more than Woodward's. Great movie all around though with the cinematography, the score, and of course Satchmo's performance.

  • cinexa | November 8, 2012 8:57 AMReply

    This is a great movie. Newman and Poitier are great, so is Dianne Carroll.

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