Paris Tips: Moulin Rouge Riddle (Part 1)
By Theadora Brack
Ring-a-ding-ding! I’ve decided to kick-off the week with a cinematic riddle. We’re in need of a detective, see. So grab your pumps, fishnets and thinking caps!
First, here are 29 clues:
1. The film takes place in Paris.
2. The lead actor’s name was Betty. She was a looker. But she wasn’t Mayor Walker’s paramour! See, that was another “Betty” with a similar rising star and last name.
3. “Jolly, effervescent, and firmly practical,” was this jazz baby’s reputation.
4. Betty’s characters possessed street smarts and a heart of gold.
5. The film opened in November 1923.
6. Critics adored the starlet’s performance, calling it “the best performance of her life!”
7. Now, the Assistant Director was an unknown. At the time, that is.
8. He was 23. This was his first major break.
9. He agreed to co-write the screenplay.
10. After the art director backed out, he designed the set, too.
11. A red-haired beauty appeared on the set.
12. She got hired as editor.
13. And then she got to him. The Assistant Director, that is.
14. She got to him good.
15. “I began by admiring her from afar,” he said later, “I much preferred admiring her from a-near.”
16. In fact, they married.
17. Continuity was her specialty, see.
18. The script was based on a 1921 stage play.
19. An affair between soldier and a Moulin Rouge Can Can dancer.
20. The Assistant Director made several scouting trips to Paris.
21. First off, each time he went to mass at L’Église de la Madeleine.
22. Then to the Moulin Rouge. For research, of course!
23. But the dance scenes were shot on a sound stage in Joinville, a distant suburb of Paris.
24. Dancers were brought in from the Moulin Rouge.
25. “An exact replica is what I was after!” said the director
26. Though their revealing costumes had to be outfitted with brassieres.
27. English and American audiences, see.
28. “No French breast could be exposed on the screen” charged the commission.
29. Despite its lack of titillation, the film was wildly popular!
Now, the questions:
1. Who was the Assistant Director? (And who was the red haired editor?)
2. What was the name of the film?
While we’re mulling over the 29 clues, let’s pay homage to the historic and photogenic cabaret! Grab a cocktail while I crank up Tino Rossi’s “Moulin Rouge.” Warning: Rossi’s tune is a tearjerker. Try listening without weeping, singing along, and then hitting repeat. I’ve tried but no can do.
“Moulin des amours, Tu tournes tes ailes, Au ciel des beaux jours, Moulin des amours.” Keep on spinning!
Hooked on Pop Quizzes?
Check out Paris Paul’s Paris by Cellphone site. Don’t miss his “Where is it Wednesday” contests. I’m hooked. Bon Chance!
(Images: T. Brack’s photo archives)