Moulin Rouge (1952)


(out of 5)

Gorgeous romance focusing on the (fictionalized) love life of painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (), whose images forever became the symbol of Paris during the Belle Epoque.  Toulouse-Lautrec stood at barely more than four and a half feet thanks to stunted growth following an accident that broke his legs in his youth, his bones unable to heal properly because of genetic issues (his aristocratic parents were first cousins).  By the time we catch up with him, doodling on the tablecloth of the titular nightclub in a stunning opening sequence, he is a bitter, alcoholic artist who has rejected the privilege of his past but has trouble believing in happiness in the future, first throwing his affection away on a harsh street walker () before allowing his insecurities to ruin the potential of happiness with a beautiful dress model ().   also appears and gives humorous life to her few moments as a singer, delightfully delivering her chattery dialogue while doing some poor lip-synching to someone else’s voice, while deeply beautiful cinematography by Oswald Morris brings the colour palette of the subject’s paintings to glorious life.  John Huston’s strong direction sees the romance and tragedy sinking in deep, his stoic attitude from the behind the camera never permitting sentimentality to take reign, and while Marchand gets all the attention (and an Oscar nomination) for her firebrand performance, it is Flon (who was Huston’s mistress for a very long time) who delivers the most devastating and memorable performance in the whole thing.  Ferrer doesn’t fare too poorly either, enduring painstaking theatrical tricks to make him appear diminutive while doing double duty in the role of Henri’s unaffectionate father.  The sequences that cut to montages of Toulouse-Lautrec’s paintings are the crowning touch on a wonderful experience.

, 1952

Directed by John Huston

Screenplay by , John Huston, based on the novel by

Cinematography by

Produced by John Huston, ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Film Festivals: Venice 1953

Cast Tags:  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,,  , ,

Academy Awards
Best Art Direction (Color) (art direction: Paul Sheriff; set decoration: Marcel Vertes)
Best Costume Design (Color) (Marcel Vertes)

Best Actor (Jose Ferrer as “Toulouse-Lautrec”)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role (colette Marchand as “Marie Chalet”)
Best Directing (John Huston)
Best Film Editing (Ralph Kemplen)
Best Motion Picture (Romulus Films)

Golden Globe Award
Most Promising Newcomer-Female (Colette Marchand)

British Academy Award Nomination
Best British Film
Best Film From Any Source
Most Promising Newcomer to Film (Colette Marchand)

National Board of Review Award
Top Foreign Films

Venice Film Festival
Silver Lion

Writers Guild Award Nomination
Best Written American Drama


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