Directed by Martin Ritt • 1961 • United States
Starring Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, Joanne Woodward
In PARIS BLUES, Ram Bowen (Paul Newman) and Eddie Cook (Sidney Poitier) are two expatriate jazz musicians living in Paris, where racism is less pervasive than in America. When they meet and fall in love with two young American girls, Lillian and Connie, who are vacationing in France, Ram and Eddie must decide whether they should move back to America with them, or stay in Paris for the freedom it allows them. Ram, who wants to be a serious composer, finds Paris more exciting than America and is reluctant to give up his music for a relationship, and Eddie wants to stay for the city’s more tolerant racial atmosphere. A love letter to the City of Light, Martin Ritt’s film, like a great jazz composition, develops several themes simultaneously: it riffs on Eddie’s reluctance to face his roots as well as Ram’s conflict between his love for Lillian and his need to live the artist’s life. With its excellent cast and an Oscar-nominated score by Duke Ellington, PARIS BLUES is both an excellent drama and a must-see film for any jazz lover.