Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
France/Italy, 1954. Franco London Films, Jolly Film. Idea by Andre-Paul Antoine, adaptation and dialogue by Jean Renoir. Cinematography by Michel Kelber. Produced by Louis Wipf. Music by Georges Van Parys. Production Design by Max Douy. Costume Design by Rosine Delamare. Film Editing by Borys Lewin.
Exuberant musical by the always reliable Jean Renoir that circumnavigates the history of the most famous nightclub in Paris history, Moulin Rouge. Jean Gabin plays the entrepreneur who risks everything (and nearly loses it all) to open the club, courting trouble when he abandons his current lover (María Félix) in favour of a young dancer (Françoise Arnoul) who inspires his new love of the titular dance. The personal, professional and political are seamlessly weaved in a surprisingly lightweight but wholly enjoyable film that is blistering with colour and capped by a fantastically energetic dance. Look for a cameo by Édith Piaf and listen for the wonderful song ‘Complainte de la Butte’, which was lifted by Baz Luhrmann for his popular 2001 anachronism about the famous dance hall.
The Criterion Collection: #243