Directed by: John Huston
Starring: José Ferrer, Colette Marchand, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Suzanne Flon, Claude Nollier
No, this isn’t the Baz Luhrmann musical (you’ll note the title lacks the exclamation point—and rightly so). This is John Huston’s colorful, but largely stock 1952 biopic on Toulouse-Lautrec (José Ferrer—performing a good deal of the film on his knees). Huston’s big interest seems to have been in creating a film that duplicated the look and color of Lautrec’s art. That’s really fairly typical of Huston’s forays into style in that it’s more surface than anything else. At the same time, there’s no denying that the film does achieve that somewhat simplistic goal. It was also immensely popular at the time, and the song “It’s April Again”—rechristened as “The Song from Moulin Rouge (Where Is Your Heart)”—became huge hits for both Percy Faith and his orchestra and for Mantovani’s orchestra. (You don’t get much more 1950s than that.) As a biography, it’s entertaining, enjoyable stuff—but it never really goes beyond the high-school-art-history-lesson level.
Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Moulin Rouge at 8 p.m. Friday, July 8 at Phil Mechanic Studios,109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com