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1896, Montmartre: the Can-Can, the dance in which the women lift their skirts, is forbidden. Nevertheless Simone has it performed every day in her night club. Her employees use their female charm to let the representatives of law enforcement look the other way - or even attend the shows. But then the young ambitious judge Philippe Forrestier decides to bring this to an end. Will Simone manage to twist him round her little finger, too? Her boyfriend Francois certainly doesn't like to watch her trying. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
During filming on 19th September 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited the set on Sound Stage 8 with his wife Nina. He reportedly was shocked by the open sexuality on display, condemning the film as pornographic and depraved: "The face of mankind is prettier than its backside... The thing is immoral. We do not want that sort of thing for the Russians." See more »
Another Cole Porter Broadway show makes it Hollywood, but not intact. Can Can retained most of its score, but 20th Century Fox added some other Porter standards like Let's Do It. Just One of Those Things, You Do Something To Me. And of course the book was sanitized by the Hollywood censors.
Briefly the plot is a girl who's a Can Can dancer played by Shirley MacLaine has to choose between two men of the legal profession. Upright judge, Louis Jourdan and less than scrupulous attorney, Frank Sinatra. Maurice Chevalier is an older judge who knows all of them and presides over the film like an avuncular grandfather.
The performers all do justice to the Cole Porter score and the best musical moment is Frank Sinatra's singing of It's All Right With Me. He's singing it to Juliet Prowse who was his main squeeze at the time. It's one of Sinatra's best musical moments on film, a perfect mating of singer and song.
I'm sure glad neither Sinatra or MacLaine attempted any kind of phony French accent. Sinatra tried a Spanish one in The Pride and the Passion and the results were hilarious.
Shirley MacLaine before she came to Hollywood was in the chorus of Can-Can on Broadway so she was a perfect fit for her part as Simone Pistache the cabaret owner where the illegal Can-Can is performed.
For reasons I don't understand a duet with Frank Sinatra and Maurice Chevalier singing I Love Paris was cut, though it remained in the original cast album. Blockheads at Fox, what were they thinking?
It also would have been nice to have some Paris location shooting for this film, it was all done at 20th Century's backlot where Nikita Khruschev paid a historic visit and said this was an example of western immorality and decadence. You couldn't buy that kind of publicity.
Verdict on this film, well as Old Blue Eyes sang:
RING-A-DING DING DING, C'est Magnifique.
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