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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 <email@example.com>
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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