Monday, September 21, 2015
Moulin Rouge (1934)
First of all, I must share that I was so pleasantly surprised by the size of Franchot’s role in Moulin Rouge! Because of my mental connection to the modern Nicole Kidman film, I assumed this movie might be a full-out musical and that assumption indicated to me that Franchot would play a wealthy, handsome suitor waiting to woo the leading lady from the sidelines in very brief scenes. I should really stop making suppositions about what a movie will be like and just watch it! After seeing it, I can tell you that Moulin Rouge is a delightful romantic comedy (with some musical numbers) and Franchot has a large starring role opposite Constance Bennett (in dual roles).
Here's where you have to suspend reality a bit. In a Parent Trap-type switch, Helen dyes her hair blonde and changes her clothes and voila! Everyone mistakes her for the exotic Raquel. Including her husband. (Personal note: I really hope my husband would still recognize me if I dyed my hair blonde and adopted an affected accent. I'm pretty sure he would.) The newly separated Doug is instantly attracted to Raquel as is his pal and colleague Victor (Tullio Carminati).
In my opinion, Franchot masterfully tackled all genres of film. He was, unfortunately, typecast early on, marked as "Mr. Joan Crawford", and struggled to gain award-worthy parts of which he was more than capable. But his talent still shines through in all of his films. Sure, there were some less-than-stellar films thrown his way (especially in the 1940s), but I can name a handful of stinkers that each of his contemporaries starred in during that time as well. It was pretty typical of the studio system of that era. For every picture you truly wanted to make, the studio bosses and their iron-clad contracts strong-armed you into making two or more pictures of which you wanted no part.