Parysia is the rage of Paris. She has a daughter, secretly engaged to Andre, and the boy's aristocratic father objects to the alliance because of Margaret's mother being a revue artist. ... See full summary »
A singer marries a famous composer, and after a while she gets the itch to go back on the stage. However, her husband won't let her. When she hears that a popular French singer named "... See full summary »
China Valdes joins the Cuban underground after her brother is killed by the chief of the secret police, Ariete. She meets and falls in love with American expatriate Tony Fenner. Tony ... See full summary »
This pseudo-biographical movie depicts 5 years from 1885 on in the life of the Viennan psychologist Freud (1856-1939). At this time, most of his colleagues refuse to cure hysteric patients,... See full summary »
A young woman (Stanley Timberlake) dumps her fiancée (Craig Fleming) and runs off with her sister's (Roy Timberlake) husband (Peter Kingsmill). They marry, settle in Baltimore, and Stanley ... See full summary »
Olivia de Havilland,
Townsend Harris is sent by President Pierce to Japan to serve as the first U.S. Consul-General to that country. Harris discovers enormous hostility to foreigners, as well as the love of a ... See full summary »
Davey Haggart is quite certain of his paternity (even if nobody else is) and determined to emulate his father, a notorious rogue and highwayman. This includes breaking a man out of Stirling... See full summary »
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec frequently visits the Moulin Rouge, where he drinks cognac and draws sketches of the dancers and singers. Though the son of a French count, Henri's legs were badly deformed by a childhood fall, and his personal life is often unhappy as a result. While he is going home one night, a spirited young woman of the streets, Marie, asks him for help. He falls in love with her, and the two become involved in a tumultuous relationship. It becomes increasingly difficult for Toulouse-Lautrec to balance his personal feelings, his artistic abilities, and his family name and position. Written by
Tall actor José Ferrer was transformed into the short artist Toulouse-Lautrec by the use of camera angles, makeup, costume, concealed pits and platforms and short body doubles. Ferrer also used a set of special knee pads of his own design which allowed him to walk on his knees with his lower legs strapped to his upper body. He suffered extreme pain and could only use them for short periods of time. The cane he used in most of his scenes was of absolute necessity. This fact was covered in a LIFE magazine story in 1952. See more »
When Henri Lautrec arrives at the gallery for the showing of his pictures, as he 'walks' in, his shadow on the ground clearly shows Ferrar's legs tucked behind him as he walks, (in on his knees). See more »
Henri, we heard you were dying. We simply had to come say good-bye.
See more »
I've always had a great affection for this film, although I realized long ago that it has its problems. Most casual viewers and amateur reviewers apparently like it, but it seems to rub some people decidedly the wrong way for various reasons.
Old-fashioned it certainly is, especially when compared to Baz Luhrmann's frenetic rock video-style musical. Though Luhrmann's film is in no way a remake of Houston's, you could legitimately compare the depictions of a night at the Moulin Rouge that occur early in both films. Luhrmann's objective seems to be completely different from Houston's. As flashy and exciting as his images are, the hyper-fast editing and use of pop music from the mid to late 20th century demonstrate absolutely no interest in evoking a sense of the time and place. What I like about Houston's depiction of the Moulin Rouge is the sense of atmosphere, the way a smoky haze can be seen hanging in the air, and the dances seem to more-or-less belong to the era. Interesting, too, is the way images from Toulouse-Lautrec's work are incorporated into this extended scene as he might have originally observed them. Those familiar with his paintings can recognize Moulin Rouge dancers like the tall, bizarre-looking Vincent DeSossier and "La Goulue," looking just as they do in the famous poster, and the sprightly black dancer "Chocolat." Patrons like the two women waltzing together serenely, and a pair of rather reserved Englishmen sitting at a table, are also familiar from the paintings.
I've always found Georges Auric's musical score rather effective. One of "Les Six," the group of avant-garde French composers who pushed the envelope of musical style in the early 20th century, he was a seasoned and sophisticated film composer who worked with Cocteau. Maybe the producers of "Moulin Rouge" thought an authentic French composer suitable for the project, and his score is sec (dry), not the least bit melodramatic, and lyrical in a way that seems to me distinctly French. This musical score may contribute to the reserved, stately, or detached quality that some reviewers see in the film.
For me that sec musical score seems appropriate to Jose Ferrer's portrayal of Toulouse-Lautrec. A pathetic figure, he does not beg us for pity, nor does the film itself turn maudlin or try to manipulate us to tears, which makes the final scene all the more moving. Some of the trick shots showing Ferrer kneeling with shoes stuck to his knees are a bit unfortunate. Too bad they couldn't come up with a better effect for this illusion. As for Zsa-Zsa Well, nothing's perfect, I guess, but I don't think a touch of kitsch kills this film. Made in the early 1950s, it's not surprising that "Moulin Rouge" avoids the raunchier aspects of turn-of-the-century bohemian life, but I still think it evokes the era admirably. A classic? I don't know, but definitely a classy film that has its staunch admirers, including me.
52 of 77 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?