AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Le petit café
Alternate Title: Playboy of Paris
Director: Ludwig Berger (Dir)
Release Date:   1931
Premiere Information:   San Francisco opening: 15 Jan 1931
Duration (in mins):   83
Duration (in feet):   7,839
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Cast:   Maurice Chevalier (Albert Loriflan)  
    Yvonne Vallée (Yvonne Philibert)  
    Tania Fédor (Mlle. Bérangère)  
    André Berley (Pierre Bourdin)  
    Emile Chautard (Philibert)  
    Françoise Rosay (Mlle. Edwige)  
    Georges Davis (Paul Michel)  
    Jacques Jou-Jerville (M. Cadaeux)  
    André Baugé (Cook)  
    Sonia Sebor    

Summary: [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. 

Production Company: Paramount Publix Corp.  
Distribution Company: Paramount Publix Corp.  
Director: Ludwig Berger (Dir)
Writer: Vincent Lawrence (Adpt)
  Jacques Bataille-Henri (Adpt)
  Jacques Bataille-Henri (Dial)
Country: United States
Language: French

Songs: Music by Richard A. Whiting and Newell Chase, lyrics by Jacques Bataille-Henri.
Composer: Jacques Bataille-Henri
  Newell Chase
  Richard A. Whiting
Source Text: Based on the play Le petit café by Tristan Bernard (Paris, 12 Oct 1911).
Authors: Tristan Bernard

Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Musical comedy
Subjects (Major): Courtship
  Gold diggers
  Paris (France)

Note: 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. 

Bibliographic Sources:   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.

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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.
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