French Cancan (1955)

French Cancan (1955)

“Yes, it’s true. I’m his mistress and I’m proud of it.”

A nightclub manager (Jean Gabin) hires a talented young laundry worker (Fran├žoise Arnoul) to dance the cancan in his new facility — but Arnoul’s boyfriend (Franco Pastorino) is upset when she falls for Gabin, and a wealthy prince (Giani Esposito) is equally disappointed that Arnoul won’t accept his offer of marriage.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Dancers
  • French Films
  • Historical Drama
  • Jean Gabin Films
  • Jean Renoir Films
  • Love Triangle
  • Musicals

One of Jean Renoir’s three post-Hollywood musical comedies — after The Golden Coach (1952) and before Elena and Her Men (1956) [not listed in GFTFF] — was this vibrant fictional homage to the founding of the Moulin Rouge nightclub in Paris. It’s pure fantasy all the way, filmed entirely on sets:

… and with a featherweight storyline designed simply to showcase that love of the stage tends to triumph over all other considerations (even the promise of wealth and royalty).

Gabin strolls leisurely through his role as an aging but still desirable impresario:

… but it’s the dancing one really keeps an eye out for, and to that end the film opens and closes with plenty of spectacle.

Fans of such fare will surely enjoy this, but it’s not must-see viewing.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Fine period sets and Technicolor cinematography

Must See?
No, though of course Renoir fans will want to check it out.


One thought on “French Cancan (1955)

  1. First viewing (1/5/22). Not must-see.

    Director Renoir has created a rather colorful, nicely designed film which is essentially a popcorn movie about l’amour. The best part of the film is the final sequence which – finally – gives us the film’s title, served up exquisitely.

    However, 3 years prior, John Huston made ‘Moulin Rouge’, which also highlights the cancan (also exquisitely but with a more stunning, more realistic color palette) without feeling the need to explain to us why / how the cancan came into popular being.

    Renoir’s film is a pleasant way to pass an hour & 45 minutes but it’s not particularly memorable.

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