Sunday, February 16, 2014

Movie of the Week: Princess Tam Tam (Review)

*Warning for those who suffer from seizures and/or Epilepsy disorder, there are numerous GIF images in this post*

After watching and reviewing El Bombero Atomico (starring Cantinflas), I made plans to stay away from non-English language films, but who can resist Josephine Baker? No one. Absolutely no one.

Danish movie poster (from Wikipedia)

Max de Mirecourt (Albert Préjean), celebrated French novelist, takes a vacation from his social-butterfly wife (Lucie, played by Germaine Aussey) in Tunisia, where he meets beautiful Alwina (Josephine Baker), a barefoot hill shepherdess. To cure his writer's block, Max casts Alwina as heroine in a real-life 'Pygmalion' story. She reacts to civilized ways and emotions with charming simplicity. Now Max, stung by reports of his wife's affair with a dark-skinned maharajah (Jean Galland), has the idea of launching Alwina in Paris society as a princess. Will civilization spoil her wild charms? Who will pair off with whom? [IMDb]

Princess Tam Tam is an above average "transform the poor/classless person (usually a woman) into a fitting member of high and classy society" kind of movie, like The Princess Diaries or My Fair Lady (there was even a horse race scene! No moving of the "blooming arses" though). What makes it "above average" is the fact that 1) Josephine Baker is in it and 2) it doesn't turn into a romance (not between the two leads, that is). Otherwise (outside of the rampant brown and black face), the movie was quite entertaining and beautiful to look at.


Josephine Baker looking flawless

Some actors stood out in this movie (Josephine Baker, Germaine Aussey), while others simply "weren't bad". In the actors' defense, the characters weren't particularly unique or multi-dimensional, but each actor did their best in bringing their characters to life. 

All "stanning" aside, again, without a doubt, Josephine Baker gave the most memorable performance in this film. Germaine Aussey (as Lucie, Max's wife) and Viviane Romance (as Lucie's friend) both did excellent jobs as the "mean girl" characters. Outside of these three women, everyone else was just "acceptable".  

Germaine Aussey as "Lucie"


This is where Princess Tam Tam really shines--in it's cinematography, set design, and costume design. It was very 1930's Hollywood musical--feathers, glitter, huge beds, elaborate stages, etc. There were some Busby Berkeley-inspired dance numbers near the end that I very much enjoyed.

La Baker cuttin' a rug!

 The editing was a bit harsh on the eyes (lots of obvious--almost frightening--cuts), but that just may have been intentional--I don't know. It just seemed too obvious to be a mistake, you know? These particular cuts did work well in musical scenes, however--they made the scenes even more exciting. Also, there were plenty of closeups of the beautiful performers (especially of Ms. Baker, of course), but there were also some odd ones--for instance, there is scene in which Alwina's romantic interest, Dar (played by Georges Péclet) is rowing a boat--and for some reason, the camera zooms in on his arms multiple times. Maybe there was something in the dialogue relating to these close-ups that I missed. 


I would definitely recommend Princess Tam Tam for viewing. It's really a fun and interesting movie to watch--always a treat to see Josephine Baker (her costumes were to die for). 

Check it out on Youtube!


All of the GIF images used in this post were obtained from Giphy.

All of the photos used in this post were used for informational purposes only. If the rightful owner(s) of any of these images wishes to have them removed, please contact me, and I will do so immediately.  

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