(director/writer: Marc Allégret; screenwriters: novel by G. Abatino/Carlo Rim; cinematographer: Michael Kelber; editor: Denise Batcheff; music: Alain Romans, Vincent Scotto, Georges Van Parys; cast: Josephine Baker (Zouzou), Jean Gabin (Jean), Pierre Larquey (Papa Mele), Yvette Leblon (Claire), Illa Meery (Mis Barbara), Madeleine Guitty (Josette), Palau (Saint-Levy); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Arys Nissotti; Kino International; 1934-France-French with English subtitles/B/W)

“This is one of the few films made for the great African-American entertainer Josephine Baker.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

One of the few films made for the great African-American entertainer Josephine Baker. It also happens to be her favorite. In the 20th century, Baker was one of the biggest stars of the French music hall. Baker was more popular in France than America.

Marc Allégret (“Plucking the Daisy”/”Lady Chatterley’s Lover”) efficiently directs. The screenplay is by Carlo Rim; it was based on a novel by Baker’s then-lover and mentor, Pepito Abatino.

Zou Zou (Josephine Baker) is a Creole laundress, brought up in the circus along with her foster brother, Jean (Jean Gabin). He’s a music hall electrician. She yearns for Jean, but he pursues her best friend. When Jean is falsely charged with a murder, Zouzou raises money to pay lawyers to get the charges dropped. She gets the money by appearing on the stage, as she replaces a temperamental performer in a stage revue and becomes an overnight star.

The movie has a fast pace and crisp musical numbers to overcome its stale story. The image of Baker covered in feathers and perched on a swing is memorable.


REVIEWED ON 6/12/2019       GRADE: B