Max de Mirecourt, celebrated French novelist, takes a vacation from his social-butterfly wife in Tunisia, where he meets beautiful Alwina, a barefoot hill shepherdess. To cure his writer's ... See full summary »
Max de Mirecourt, celebrated French novelist, takes a vacation from his social-butterfly wife in Tunisia, where he meets beautiful Alwina, a barefoot hill shepherdess. To cure his writer's block, Max casts Alwina as heroine in a real-life 'Pygmalion' story. She reacts to civilized ways and emotions with charming simplicity. Now Max, stung by reports of his wife's affair with a dark-skinned maharajah, has the idea of launching Alwina in Paris society as a princess. Will civilization spoil her wild charms? Who will pair off with whom? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Mildly interesting French romance starring Josephine Baker
Ron Oliver's review on these pages will certainly suffice for the plot lines. This mix of Pygmalion with the old jealousy plot to win back the affections of a philandering spouse makes for rather dull viewing. The editing attempts a sophistication with its various geometric wipes that the film itself lacks. Other editing cuts are abrupt and choppy. The attempts to film a Busby Berkeley-like musical number fall flat in that both the choreographer and director lack understanding of the fluid continuity in Berkeley's numbers and the building of themes within them. In TAM TAM, we get short, choppy posings rather than dancing - that have no relation to one another (as with Baker's earlier film, ZOU ZOU in its big production number).
This aside, Baker does a decent acting job - she is natural, but she is not a trained actress and the camera does not fall in love with her. She does have a vivacious personality and her smile is a killer. One can see why she only made a handful of films- cinema was not her forte; the live stage was.
Here, as in ZOU ZOU, she sings two songs - those in this production are REVES and SOUS LE CIEL D'AFRIQUE. Nicely done.
Neither ZOU ZOU nor PRINCESSE TAM TAM are good films, and their only value is in preserving the movements, face and voice of Josephine Baker. Her dancing here disappoints. I am still a fan, first and foremost, of her vocal recordings. They perfectly capture an era, soon to disappear forever, of jazz, champagne and romance.
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