Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker was born poor, but achieved fame and fortune through her sizzlingly exotic and erotic performances. Starting life on the American Vaudeville ... See full summary »
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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>
An advertising poster for this film is pictured on one stamp of a set of five 42¢ USA commemorative postage stamps honoring Vintage Black Cinema, issued 16 July 2008. Other films honored in this set are Black and Tan (1929), The Sport of the Gods (1921), Caldonia (1945), and Hallelujah (1929). See more »
Josephine Baker was one of the most remarkable women of the 20th century. Talented and beautiful, she moved away from the racially segregated US to find her fortune in Paris, where she became the highest paid entertainer in Europe for many years. She mostly worked in the nightclub scene, singing and dancing, but she did make a few films. If all those films were as uninspired as Princess Tam Tam (1935), it's easy to see why she got bored with cinema so quickly.
Baker is the only entertaining aspect of the film. She's charming and funny, and steals every frame she appears in. Her co-stars leave little impression, partly due to having to share the screen with Baker and partly due to their characters being dull, or worse, that deadly combination of unlikable and annoying. The story is a pale retread of Pygmalion and even though the movie doesn't even last an hour and a half, it seems to go on forever. There's even a Busby Berkely style dance number at the end which may be the most obvious use of narrative padding I've ever seen.
A poor script combined with choppy camera-work makes this mostly uninspired viewing. However, Baker's performance makes it worth a single watch, and it makes you wish the producers and writers had given her better material to work with.
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