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An Evening at the Moulin Rouge (1981)

TV Movie  |   |  Music  |  September 1981 (USA)
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A GEM from the HBO "Golden Era"
15 August 2006 | by (Central Coast, CA) – See all my reviews

While HBO is now known for producing "The Sopranos" and other episodic TV shows, in its early days it produced a wide range of wonderful music, comedy, and variety concerts. This one-hour show captures a Las Vegas-style show, but of the French variety, at the famed Moulin Rouge nightclub in Paris. George Hamilton provides a suave, debonair presence (something that he was clearly born to do), introducing each act from a location just outside the women's dressing room, where mostly-naked ladies rush by trying to get changed for the next act.

And there are some interesting acts.

In addition to several dancing showgirl numbers, there are many other wonderful performances:

The Dancing Devilles. Best described as a Russian street dancing group, using balls on the end of strings instead of trashcans to provide the percussion for their dance;

Ernest Montego. An excellent juggler, who presages many Cirque de Soleil performances that were still many years in the future when this was filmed;

Watusi. Josephine Baker, updated to 1981.

Babloo Monique. Not sure of the spelling, but this guy was able to create shadow images with his hands by putting them in front of a slide projector (just like we all used to do when our parents would show slides or movies). Pretty amazing to see Nixon, Reagan, Stalin, Churchill, and many other famous world leaders suddenly appear.

Dolphin Act. A live dolphin in a tank on stage cleverly disrobes one of the dancers. Yes, dolphins are smart.

The Can-Can. And of course, the finale has to be the Can-Can, performed exactly as it has always been done.

I just discovered the tape I made when this was broadcast by HBO all those years ago, just after I got my first VCR, and first subscribed to cable. I sure wish HBO would issue all those wonderful concerts on DVD from that early era. They briefly started to do this in the early 1990s, when laserdiscs first arrived, and I have the Fleetwood Mac Mirage concert and the Olivia Newton-John Weber Utah concert on laserdisc. They never did that with this or many other similar fun performances. If anyone is listening out there from HBO, make some money from those old properties, and start a "classic HBO" series!!


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