Gabrielle (Helene Hallier), an ambitious but innocent would-be young chorine, trumps a music hall publicity stunt to become the new Parisian nightclub Cinderella. But this lighter-than-champagne-bubbles story is only a pretext for LA REVUE DES REVUES's white-hot, non-stop procession of outrageously and scantily attired exotic dancers, showgirls, and acrobats including the TillerÂ¹s Follies Girls, Ruth Zackey and the Hoffmann Girls, and danseuse russe Lila Nikolska. But it's Josephine Baker, "the high priestess of primitivism" (J. Hoberman Village Voice), who triumphs in two show stopping numbers in which "her clownish backfield-in-motion Charleston shimmy is unlike anything else in the movie and perhaps unlike anything anyone ever did." Written by
LA REVUE DES REVUES (1927) is a fascinating train wreck of a film. First and foremost is the HIDEOUS modern score. And I mean HIDEOUS. 106 minutes of it. Thin narrative has a little sewing machine girl who wants to go on the stage. She tries to enter a "small feet" contest but is too late to sign up. She goes to one of the clubs and attracts the attention of its male star. He gets her into the show as a dancer. She also attracts the attention of an impresario who encourages her to try on the "Cinderella" show when the "small feet" winner's feet swell and the show comes to a halt. She becomes a star.
Aside from this, the film is mainly a series of opulent, elaborate musical numbers featuring stars of various Paris clubs. Most famous is Josephine Baker, who appears in two numbers. These scenes are all hand tinted but statically shot from audience perspective. The numbers usually feature a "star" and about 20-30 others who pose or walk about the stage or dance. Most dance numbers are more dance movements of the Isadora type and many chorus girl numbers with simple dance routines. There's only one tap number. Baker does a spastic "funky chicken" dance in her first number, then redeems herself in the 2nd with a terrific post-Charleston / Shimmy sort of dance.
Throughout all the numbers, this modern cacophony drones on and on. The only numbers that they even come close to matching are Baker's 2nd dance, and a Denishawn-type Egyptian number.
Worth watching for the eye-popping stage numbers and Josephine Baker, but be prepared to hit the "mute" button.
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