A Movie A Day: Quint on CAN-CAN (1960)
I think all conversations ought to be sung. It’s hard to quarrel with a melody.
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Frank Sinatra bridges us from yesterday’s VON RYAN’S EXPRESS to today’s musical based on Cole Porter’s CAN-CAN.
The flick starts out as a standard good artists pushing the envelope against an uptight society picture, but quickly turns into a love triangle.
Basically you have Sinatra as the boyfriend and lawyer for Shirley MacLaine who runs a risqué dance club in Montmartre that always has to step in and defend MacLaine and her dancers whenever they’re caught doing the Can-Can, a dance too sexual, apparently, and one that is banned.
Louis Jourdan plays a new judge who is trying to get the place shut down. If you’re a musical fan you’ll know him from GIGI or if you’re a genre nerd like me you’ll probably know Jourdan best as Dr. Arcane from SWAMP THING.
So, it was quite a surprise when the story of a new judge trying to shut down this nightclub morphed into new judge falls in love with dance hall owner and tries to woo her away from Sinatra.
I found it hard to connect with this movie. It doesn’t have the charm or successful musicals of this time period, like THE SOUND OF MUSIC or WEST SIDE STORY, although I enjoyed watching Sinatra, MacLaine, Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier in eye-popping Technicolor.
The problem isn’t the actors or the writing… or even the musical numbers. I quite liked “Live and Let Live” and “Let’s Do It,” actually. But even those didn’t feel staged in a memorable way.
There’s a trippy as hell ballet dance sequence at the end, set in the Garden of Eden with dancers wearing animal heads… Apparently bunnies and wolves danced together while Unicorns watched before Eve bit into the apple… It’s a long sequence that had me captivated, but I don’t know if it was in a good way. “What the fuck am I a watching” was going through my head, although I loved the lady as the snake slinking down the tree.
Anyway, for whatever reason I found it difficult to connect on a personal level with the film despite how beautiful it looked in scope Technicolor and the great charisma of all the leads.
Maybe it was the story itself. The love triangle is played for most of the 2 hours and 20 minute runtime, but when the ending comes they just drop the loser without any fanfare. It just kind of happens.
(Spoiler) And what can I say? Sinatra’s great, but I liked Jourdan more, so when MacLaine picks Sinatra at the end and Jourdan just kind disappears I was a little disappointed. Jourdan is a nicer guy, truly in love with MacLaine, his career and reputation be damned. Sinatra’s smooth, but less interesting. He doesn’t want to commit to marriage, he wants to fuck around… He even has a great line to MacLaine where he says something like “I’d rather love you than marry you,” which is obviously what MacLaine wants.
Now I can be cool with characters making a backwards wrong-ass decision in movies like this (Duckie getting dumped for Andrew McCarthy still pisses me off, though), but I guess I just don’t like how they handled it here. MacLaine just seems to feel bad for him and Jourdan disappears from the picture.
Final Thoughts: The film is too long, but has some charm. I’m afraid it’s not a very memorable movie, but while watching it I didn’t find myself squirming or checking my watch. It plays light and there’s some really fun innuendo (including a great subtle bit when Sinatra is asking MacLaine where exactly Jourdan kissed her and she says, “My lips” but her hands go down to her lap, covering her crotch for a second… maybe I’m just a filthy-minded bastard, but I’ll be damned if that wasn’t intentional), but I think it’s a movie that’ll probably dissolve out of my memory by the end of the week. I always felt like an observer while watching, not invested emotionally in any of the characters.
The schedule for the next 7 days is:
Monday, August 4th: DESPERATE CHARACTERS (1971)
Tuesday, August 5th: THE POSSESSION OF JOEL DELANEY (1972)
Wednesday, August 6th: QUACKSER FORTUNE HAS A COUSIN IN THE BRONX (1970)
Thursday, August 7th: START THE REVOLUTION WITHOUT ME (1970)
Friday, August 8th: HELL IS A CITY (1960)
Saturday, August 9th: THE PIED PIPER (1972)
Sunday, August 10th: PARTNERS (1982)
Tomorrow we jump some 11 years up in MacLaine’s filmography to a little seen drama called DESPERATE CHARACTERS from 1971. See you folks then!
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Aug. 4, 2008, 1:26 a.m. CST
don't think i'll see this one....
Aug. 4, 2008, 2:03 a.m. CST
by Alonzo Mosely
Video at 11...
Aug. 4, 2008, 2:15 a.m. CST
That's the beauty of the cheap bin, if they suck, you didn't pay a lot...
Aug. 4, 2008, 3:07 a.m. CST
Aug. 4, 2008, 3:13 a.m. CST
check out his performance in the late 1970s BBC TV version of Dracula. It's called COUNT DRACULA, and Jourdan is compelling in it. No idea if it's available Region 1, but you can pick it up Region 2 in the UK for about £10 / $20. Oh, and Frank Finlay plays Van Helsing. Result!
Aug. 4, 2008, 3:39 a.m. CST
What are your thoughts? Compare and contrast with '300', if you please.
Aug. 4, 2008, 10:12 a.m. CST
I remember the way he kept Maud Adam's name over and over! "Octopewssy...Octopewssy."
Aug. 4, 2008, 11:57 a.m. CST
by Lazarus Long
What kind of film review fails to mention the director? Quint you know better than this, and I'm assuming the direction in this film was the weak part, which is why the name failed to make the article. But still, we should know who MADE the film as much as who's in it. Many film fans would argue it's even more important. Keep 'em coming, I love this series, even if I've seen much of what you've missed. It's nice to see some old classics getting promoted among the basement dwellers.
Aug. 4, 2008, 12:03 p.m. CST
...that just clutters up the main page with stuff we don't care about, that has nothing to do with the up & coming news/reviews/interviews and scoops we come here for?? Jesus, talk about misjudging your demographic.
Aug. 4, 2008, 12:31 p.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
I, for one, am enjoying this column and the very broad spectrum of film with which Quint is opening up his film knowledge. It's important, in understanding cinema, to watch both the good and the bad, because if you limit yourself then you're missing the point. <p>Honestly, if you don't like the column, there are a dozen other articles each and every day.
Aug. 4, 2008, 12:31 p.m. CST
The first is to see films as products. The latest being the best. The most marketed being the most promising. The box-office reflecting the quality. I say this view of film is reductive, brain-washed and pertfectly incurious. Movies as any industry, like a candy machine where the best artificial flavor is the most seductive. Film as art. Films are declarations of creative independence. Films are the children and grand-children of what preceeded them. Films inscribe themselves in a flow, in a history, or try to shake that history up. Films that are so referenced, the neophyte eye may not understand them or films that break off every root possible like a furious child towards her parents... I believe there are as many films that are favorites of mine in both of these categories. I believe a film needs to entertain as much as it should provoke reflection and musings. So, I would say, the twain have met and should meet. But we cannot discard the treasures of the past simply because only one of our eyes is open: the one who loves eye-candy, the latest, most marketed, most world-wide grossing (BTW, it's still Gone With the Wind- 1939). Just as the other eye should not reign supreme: the eye which is only piqued when a film is unknown, underground or esoteric. Nope, I will have films shown to both mine eyes and hopefully, both will be entertained. Perhaps, Zanduga, you will open your other eye. Hell, I started my way watching Nightmares on Elm Street and I'm finishing my Bergman retrospective. I would never say one is more effective than the other: they speak to a different eye (okay, so Bergman is the 20th century's Shakespeare to me, but Freddy's the new Freud-savvy Frankenstein). But perhaps you like it this way. And so be it, if it must.
Aug. 4, 2008, 12:32 p.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
...I'm part of AICN's demographic, and I come here for the mixture between "up & coming news/reviews/interviews and scoops" as well as a geek version of film analysis and history. It has always been that way.
Aug. 4, 2008, 1:25 p.m. CST
I, too, am part of the AICN demographic. And Quint's AMAD column is my favorite feature of the site these days. "Cool" does not always equal "new". Old movies can be cool, too. Quint is doing us a service by directing us to movies that we may have missed, but are still worthy of our attention. "Misjudging your demographic"? Only a narrow-minded fool would suggest that.
Aug. 4, 2008, 1:35 p.m. CST
by Pancho Straight
who wander in to say this is not interesting to them are like the little boys who run into a room, trhow their dress up over their head and yell "Poopie!" in a room full of grownups.<p>We get it, chumpies. You don't like it when your mommy reads anything to you about anything that happened before you were born - in other words, anything before the 21st century. The thing is, your mommy reads you things you don;t like because she doesn;t like you - you were a mistake, she never meant to have you.<p>Personally I can't imagine anyone coming to AICN and reading every single article, let alone expecting every single one of them to be something they're interested in.<p>I'd think the title would usually be enough to let you know that this is a review of a movie you may not be interested in. Is the ADD that bad that you click on links before you can even read the headlines?<p>REally, children, if you don;t like it here, just go play with your games and leave the grown-ups alone. We're trying to discuss old movies here, something you don;t know anything about. And what you're doing is unworthy of the dignity of being called trollish. You're just childish attention grabbers. Now hush.
Aug. 4, 2008, 2:17 p.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
Aug. 4, 2008, 2:18 p.m. CST
All you little pussy hairs tapping away at the keys with your crotch-scratchers need to just shut your breath-holes and go back to watching fuzzy anime bootlegs on your iPuds while trying to fathom a world without mommy's tit-milk flowing over your gingivitis-riddled gums. Now I'm not a fan of every flick Quint's slogging through here. By God, some of them are about as entertaining as catching a pube in your zipper...of course, you may be into that, and I'm not here to judge. But if you little scat-clowns click on "Movie-A-Day" and consider it a waste of precious time you could be catching cum in your free hand, maybe you'd better pop on over to Movie Mom's site. Maybe then you can get a boner over someone called "Mom" without feeling Qedipal guilt you little dingleberries. Rarrrrrr too much coffee today! You pseudo-cynical Underoo-staining ass-eating trollbait! Don't touch Goulet! *note--may or may not be taken seriously. Entirely up to you, you testical-tickling spunk-slurpers. ...Ahhh, I would have been a GREAT troll.
Aug. 4, 2008, 2:20 p.m. CST
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