Josephine Baker - Princesse Tam Tam (1935)
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Published on Sep 4, 2012
Princesse Tam Tam (1935)
Also Known As: Princess Tam-Tam
Director: Edmond T. Gréville
Writers: Pepito Abatino (scenario), Yves Mirande (dialogue)
Storyline: Max de Mirecourt, celebrated French novelist, takes a vacation from his social-butterfly wife in Tunisia, where he meets beautiful Alwina, 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, has the idea of launching Alwina in Paris society as a princess. Will civilization spoil her wild charms? Who will pair off with whom?
Cast: Josephine Baker ... Alwina, Albert Préjean ... Max de Mirecourt (as Albert Prejean), Robert Arnoux ... Coton, Germaine Aussey ... Lucie de Mirecourt, Georges Péclet ... Dar (as Georges Peclet), Viviane Romance ... Lucie's Friend, Jean Galland ... Maharajah of Datane
Trivia: An advertising poster for this film is pictured on one stamp of a set of five 42¢ USA commemorative postage stamps honoring Vintage Black Cinema, issued 16 July 2008. Other films honored in this set are Black and Tan, The Sport of the Gods, Caldonia, and Hallelujah!.
Soundtracks: "Sous Le Ciel d'Afrique"
Sung and Danced by Josephine Baker
Written by André de Badet and Jacques Belasco
Reviews: A French novelist, disgusted by his wife's society friends, goes to North Africa for a respite. There he encounters a vivacious & talented Bedouin girl, living in poverty. To spite his wife, who is romancing a Maharajah, he decides to train & educate the girl, and present her to Parisian society as the PRINCESSE TAM TAM...
The marvelous Josephine Baker is perfectly cast in the title role in this very enjoyable French film. With her enormous eyes & infectious smile, she makes contact with the viewer's heartstrings immediately. Her over-sized personality & obvious joy of performing make her a pure pleasure to watch. Baker makes us care about what's happening to poor Alwina during her transformation & introduction to European mores.
Albert Préjean does very well as the Pygmalion to Baker's Galatea; also effective are Georges Peclet as a half-caste servant, and Jean Galland as the mysterious Maharajah.
The film is very handsome & well made, looking a little reminiscent of Busby Berkeley movies being produced at the same time in America - although unlike American films of this period, Princesse Tam Tam hasn't any racism. It should be pointed out that there was no Hays Office or Production Code in France. Some of the dialogue & action is rather provocative, but it must be admitted that Baker singing & dancing to 'Under The African Sky,' as well as her culminating performance in the Parisian nightclub, are two of the cinema's more memorable moments.
Actual location filming in Tunisia greatly enhances the film.
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