Saturday, February 10, 2018

Moulin Rouge (1952)

I've had the 1952 version of Moulin Rouge on my DVR for a long time, but never watched it to do a review because it seems to be out of print on DVD. The movie is on TCM tonight at 8:00 PM, so now's the time do do a review.

José Ferrer plays painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who, at the start of the movie is in the Moulin Rouge nightclub in the Paris of 1890. There, he sketches the dancers and drinks his life away. He lives alone because, as a child, he suffered a serious accident that resulted in his legs not healing properly and leaving him physically stunted. The one love of his life up until that time tells him in flashback that no woman is ever going to want him.

One night on the way home from the club, he comes across a prostitute Marie (Colette Marchand) who is getting harassed by the police because, well, prostitution is not exactly legal. Henri tells the policeman that she is actually with him, if only to keep her from getting arrested. He takes her home and, wouldn't you know it, he falls in love with her. It's a stormy relationship, however, and the two ultimately split although he never forgets her.

Time passes and by 1900, Toulouse-Lautrec has created what would become the iconic poster advertising the Moulin Rouge. The poster made a success of the place. Too much of a success, in fact, as the clientele changed from downmarket to upmarket and what made the place so charming is no longer there. Toulouse-Lautrec has become successful enough to have rich people buying his paintings, but he still drinks his life away.

One morning while heading home in a carriage, he runs across a woman who looks like she's thinking of jumping off a bridge into the Seine and to her death. He stops out and talks to that woman, Myriamme (Suzanne Flon), and finds out that she's only there to throw away a key from a suitor she's rejecting. Not long after, mutual friend Jane (Zsa Zsa Gabor), who had worked at the Moulin Rouge and became a legitimate success, introduces the two even though they've already met. They start a tempestuous relationship, although Myriamme's old boyfriend isn't giving up....

Moulin Rouge is a movie that's physically beautiful to watch, thanks to its sumptuous color and its attempt to make things look almost like a Toulouse-Lautrec painting. But unfortunately, that wasn't enough to outweigh the story which, for me, wasn't all that exciting. Henri was a jerk to the people around him, and I didn't care too much for either of the women. But it's the sort of story that will be appealing to some people, so watch and judge for yourself.

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