"French Cancan" is a 1954 French musical comedy that tells the story of Henri Danglard, a café proprietor who concocts a business scheme to revive the cancan, a famous French dance, featuring in his show a washerwoman whom he meets by chance. Jean Renoir directed the film, which stars Jean Gabin and María Félix.Continue Reading
The Moulin Rouge, a Paris theater that celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2014, inspired the film's plot, which involves Danglard's establishment of a new cabaret theater. The Moulin Rouge was also the real-life birthplace of the cancan.
Critics have praised "French Cancan" for its evocative visual resemblance to Impressionist paintings, including those by Edgar Degas and Pierre-August Renoir, the father of the film's director Jean Renoir. Jean Renoir also has a cameo as a drunk toward the end of the film.
The film's soundtrack also won accolades. Through singer Cora Vaucaire sang one of the songs, "La Complainte de la Butte," the actress who appears onscreen is Anna Amendola. Amendola lip-synced the song because Vaucaire was deemed not attractive enough to appear on film.
Although "French Cancan" features big outdoor scenes, the film was shot entirely on sound stages for acoustical purposes. This technique led some critics to complain about the phony set design.Learn more about Classics