French Cancan (1954)

Not Rated  |   |  Comedy, Musical, Drama  |  16 April 1956 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 2,514 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 30 critic

This comedy drama from Jean Renoir chronicles the revival of Paris' most notorious dance as it tells the story of a theater producer who turns a humble washerwoman into a star at the Moulin Rouge.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
María Félix ...
Anna Amendola ...
Esther Georges
Jean-Roger Caussimon ...
Baron Walter
Dora Doll ...
La Génisse
Giani Esposito ...
Prince Alexandre
Gaston Gabaroche ...
Oscar, le pianiste
Jacques Jouanneau ...
Jean Parédès ...
Franco Pastorino ...
Paulo, le boulanger
Michèle Philippe ...
Le Capitaine Valorgueil
Albert Rémy ...
France Roche ...


Henri Danglard, proprietor of the fashionable (but bankrupt) cafe 'Le Paravent Chinois' featuring his mistress, belly dancer Lola, goes slumming in Montmarte (circa 1890) where the then-old-fashioned cancan is still danced. There, he conceives the idea of reviving the cancan as the feature of a new, more popular establishment...and meets Nini, a laundress and natural dancer, whom he hopes to star in his new show. But a tangled maze of jealousies intervenes... Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Eclair Lab digital restoration 2010


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

16 April 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Only the French Can  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (1956)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Italian censorship visa #17930 delivered on 17 December 1954. See more »


Henri Danglard: Would you like to become a dancer, miss?
Nini: Everyone knows what that means.
Mme Olympe, mère de Nini: She's my daughter.
Henri Danglard: I'm very interested in her, madame.
Mme Olympe, mère de Nini: My daughter is an honest girl.
Henri Danglard: Ha-ha. I don't doubt it. What does she earn working for you?
Mme Olympe, mère de Nini: She's not for sale.
Henri Danglard: I want to give her a career.
Mme Olympe, mère de Nini: She already has one. What kind of career?
Henri Danglard: The finest of all, dear lady. The theater.
See more »


Petits Souris
Written by Georges Van Parys
Performed by Édith Piaf
See more »

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User Reviews

Fun and pretty! Françoise Arnoul - Ou la la!
26 January 2003 | by (Saint Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

Although it doesn't seem very promising for a long stretch, Renoir's French Cancan ends up being an effortlessly charming film. The story is cliché: a laundry girl, Nini (Françoise Arnoul), is discovered by a night club owner, Danglard (Jean Gabin). Danglard steals her from her baker boyfriend and drops his current girlfriend, both of whom come back for their former lovers. Nini has to choose whether to go back to her humble life with the baker, go on with the show with her employer, oh, or become a princess, as a prince falls in love with her at one point, too. I'm glad the film didn't go for the most obvious choice, as a lesser film certainly would have. The film ends with the opening of Danglard's new night club, the Moulin Rouge, and a couple of gorgeous song and dance numbers. The first of them, "Complainte de la Butte," which also provides the base of most of the film's musical score, is simply one of the most gorgeous songs ever written, and Renoir himself wrote it. If you're a fan of Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge!, you'll recognize the tune, as it comes up near the beginning of that film, sung by Rufus Wainwright. Although it isn't very prominent in that film, everyone I know who owns the soundtrack loves it. In addition to having one of the most lovely songs ever written, French Cancan also boasts one of the cutest leading ladies ever to grace the screen. It's hard not to fall head-over-heels in love with that girl. 8/10.

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