Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Ernest Hemingway

Vacation Getaways – Gay Paree!


Continuing on with our series on experiencing the world’s best vacation spots vicariously through the use of books and movies, now let’s take a sojourn to Paris the City of Lights. With its fantastic food, its café culture, its world famous museums, historic architecture and so much more, it is arguably the Ultimate Destination City. Let us explore.

Five Great Movies to See That Were Filmed in Paris

An American in Paris (1951) Vincente Minelli directed this classic movie musical based on the composition of George Gershwin. Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly) is a WWII vet struggling to make it as an artist while romantically involved with Lise (Leslie Caron). Oscar Levant, Georges Geutary, and Nina Foch also starred. It was a huge box office smash and was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won six. It is ranked #9 on the AFI’s list of Best Movie Musicals.

Belle de Jour (1967) Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel directed and co-wrote this film based on the Joseph Kessler novel of the same name. Severine (Catherine Denueve, in one of her most acclaimed roles) is a young and beautiful housewife married to physician Dr. Pierre Serizy. She loves her husband, but is sexually frustrated and finds release by working as a high class prostitute while he’s at work. Many of Denueve’s costumes were designed by Yves St. Laurent himself and the film won the Golden Lion and Passinetti Award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival.  

Amelie (2001) Audrey Tatou shines in the title role as a shy young waitress living in Montmarte who decides to devote herself to promoting the happiness of others. Along the way of course she finds love for herself as well. The movie was a global smash and the highest grossing French language film released in the U.S. to date. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, won two BAFTA awards, four Cesar Awards including Best Film and Best Director, and won Best Film at the European Film awards.

Ratatouille (2007) Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol) directed this animated Pixar offering.  Remy the rat (Patton Oswalt) is an idealistic and creative soul who yearns to become a great chef but finds it hard to do because…well he’s a rat. Until that he is forms a partnership with bumbling garbage boy Linguini (Lou Romano).  Janeane Garafolo, Ian Holm, Brian Dennehy, Brad Garrett, and Peter O’Toole lend their voices as well. To create the food animation Bird interned at The French Laundry restaurant and the production team consulted with numerous chefs. The end result was a visually spectacular and hilarious movie that rightly won the Academy Award for Best Animated Picture.

Midnight in Paris (2011) Woody Allen wrote and directed this comedic fantasy. Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a screenwriter and would be novelist besotted by Paris while his fiancée Inez (Rachel MacAdams) is less enamored. One night Gil discovers a way to travel back in time to Paris in the 20’s allowing him to hobnob with figures like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein. The movie is essentially a love letter to Paris and its charms and enchantments which helped win a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Screenplay.

Five Great Books Set in Paris

Le Pere Goriot (1835) by Honore de Balzac. Set in Paris during the Bourbon Restoration, the novel follows how three characters lives intertwine: criminal in hiding Vautrin; idealistic young law student Eugene de Rastignac; and the titular Goriot, an elderly man who dotes on his spoiled and ungrateful daughters. While it received mixed reviews at the time it is now widely considered to be Balzac’s most important and influential novel that gave rise to the term ‘Rastignac’ to denote a social climber who’d do anything to advance their position.

A Moveable Feast (1964)  By Ernest Hemingway. A memoir of Hemingway’s early years as a struggling expatriate journalist and author in the 20’s when he was married to his first wife, Hadley. It was published posthumously by his fourth wife and widow, Mary Hemingway, three years after his death based on his manuscript and notes. Hemingway provides specific details on many Parisian streets and cafes still in existence today as well as featuring such notable figures as Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Aleister Crowley, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Gertrude Stein and many more.  For anyone interested in Paris OR literary history it’s a must read.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog (2006) By Muriel Bayberry.  Renee Michel is a brilliant and sensitive woman who hides her genius under a shade while working as a concierge at a ritzy apartment building.  She is befriended by the precocious and unstable 12 year old Paloma Josse and one day the cultured Japanese businessman Kakuro Ozu begins to take an interest in Renee as well.  An publishing phenomenon it became an international best-seller and won the 2007 French Booksellers Award, the Prix du Rotary International in France, and the Brive-la-Gaillarde Reader’s prize.  A movie adaption starring Josiane Balasko as Renee was released in 2009.  

Pure (2011) By Andrew Miller. The novel centers around the efforts of engineer Jean-Baptiste Barrette who is tasked with the removal of the Les Innocentes, cemetery and church from Les Halles, France in 1786.  Barratte soon find he has both friends and enemies in this task and Miller draws a colorful cast of characters who wage against each other during a time of incredible political turmoil.  It was nominated for the Walter Scott Prize and South Bank Award, and won the Costa Book Award for ‘Best Novel’ and ‘Book of the Year.’

Paris: The Novel (2013) By Edward Rutherford. This historical novel traces the history of Paris from 1261 to 1968 thru the sagas of six core families; the Revolutionary Le Sourds, the aristocratic de Cygnes, the bourgeois merchant Renards, Napolean supporting Blanchards, the Gascons of the slums, and the Jacobs an art dealing Jewish family.  Based on real events following two different timelines and set in locales such as Montmarte, Notre Dame, and Boulevard Saint-Germain it weaves a fascinating tapestry.  

Top photo: Bigstock

The Select (The Sun Also Rises) at Shakespeare Theatre


The Select is not everyone’s cup of tea (or, more accurately, shot of whisky). The Elevator Repair Company, the group responsible for Gatz, an afternoon and evening marathon reading of The Great Gatsby, has followed up with a production of Ernest Hemingway’s masterwork that, after touring cities in the U.S, and Europe, opened in 2011 at the New York Theater Workshop. Now playing through April 2 at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre, The Select focuses on American and British expatriates living in France and Spain in the aftermath of World War I.


Susie Sokol as Pedro Romero 

In program notes, Director John Collins said that condensing Hemingway’s 260-page novel proved to be challenging. The play clocks in at around two and a half hours, and while there’s plenty of action – several lively dance sequences and a thrilling bull fight, ingeniously staged with a rolling table equipped with horns – the play is heavy on dialogue. But this is Hemingway, after all, and audience members who stay the course are rewarded with a theatrical event that is unique and inspiring. Those who have never read Hemingway, or have long forgotten his emphasis on simple prose, may find themselves on Amazon. His characters truly have stood the test of time and, brought to life on stage, prove to be as intriguing and complex as they are on the page.

The play’s narrator is Jake Barnes (a strong performance by Mike Iveson), who was injured in the war and is now impotent. He’s in love with Brett Ashley (Stephanie Hayes), who loves him, but, also loving sex, knows their relationship will never be consummated. Jake, however, is not the only one in love with Brett. In fact, virtually every many who comes into contact with her cannot resist her sexual appeal. And that’s a problem for this close knit group of friends, leading to arguments, breakdowns, and fist fights. All of this passion is fueled with copious amounts of alcohol. David Zinn’s set, meant to resemble a cafe in Paris or Spain, is dominated with bottles lining the shelves above the bar, and glasses filled with colorful liquids set up like marching soldiers on two long wooden tables. The actors are rarely without a glass or bottle in their hands. Sound designer Matt Tierney provides the special effects of liquor being poured and Champagne corks being popped.


Kate Scelsa as Frances, John Collins as Robert Cohn and Mike Iveson as Jake Barnes

Jake wears many hats – host, confidante, mediator, spectator, and good friend. When the play opens, he’s attempting to console Frances (Kate Scelsa), who is engaged to Jake’s Princeton classmate, Robert Cohn (played by Collins), but can’t get him to the altar. A Jew, Cohn never felt accepted at Princeton or among the group he’s with in Europe. His marriage to Frances doesn’t come off and his dalliance with Brett also proves to be a disaster. Brett is soon engaged to Mike (Paul Boocock), but then, intrigued with the spectacle of bullfighting, takes off with the 19 year-old matador, Pedro Romero (Susie Sokol). Finding herself alone and broke in San Sebastían, Brett sends a telegram to Jake, and he, of course, comes to rescue her.


Stephanie Hayes as Brett Ashley and Mike Iveson as Jake Barnes

Hayes’ performance as a femme fatale is brilliant. There’s no slinking around or bending over to flash cleavage. Her sexual appeal is more subtle, helped along by her appealing British accent. While a male magnet, the one thing she can’t attract is happiness. Jake and Brett are made for one another, but will never be happy together, a tragedy for both of them.

Hemingway meant The Sun Also Rises as a comment on the post World War I generation that many saw as being the “Lost Generation,” a term coined by Gertrude Stein. Hemingway scholars feel that the author was more optimistic, seeing these young people as possibly scarred, but still hopeful. Certainly that description might apply to many post-war generations.

Photos by Scott Suchman

The Select (The Sun Also Rises)
Elevator Repair Services
Lansburgh Theatre
Shakespeare Theatre Comopany
450 7th Street NW
Through April 2, 2017

Jaleo located next door to the Lansburgh Theatre is offering a pre-theatre tasting menu in honor of The Select (The Sun Also Rises). The menu features three courses that bring alive the spirit and flavors of Spain at only $30 per person. Ask for “The Select” menu upon arrival or when making your reservation. Available Sunday–Thursday 5-6:30 p.m.