Paris Tips: Moulin Rouge Riddle (Part 1)

Come and meet those dancing feet at Moulin Rouge Photos by Theadora Brack

Meet Betty! (T. Brack’s Photo Archives)

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.

The Mystery Film Poster!

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!

La Belle de New York at the Moulin Rouge

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?

Any guesses?

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)

47 thoughts on “Paris Tips: Moulin Rouge Riddle (Part 1)

    • Two seconds. I just did the math. It took you two seconds. I’m so impressed!! Yes, “Woman to Woman” is the name of our mystery film!! Congratulations!! T.


  1. The answers came to me the moment I put on my black fishnets with the rhinestones up the back and, of course, my ruby slipper pumps…………..o la la baby…………think I will just keep them on a while and have some champagne!


    • Dear Tin Man, Thanks for being so game. As always, I love your enthusiasm and wit, too boot!! Rhinestones up the back of the black fishnets? Oh, I am Kelly green with jealousy. There is no place like home. Enjoy the week. Oh, la la!! T.


  2. What fun T. Next time maybe SOMEONE ELSE will get a chance to answer! LOL (just kidding, well maybe)
    A regular riddle feature? Hmmmm, not a bad idea…just sayin’


    • Ah, thanks!! Moulin Rouge has changed through the years. I love studying and comparing the photographs. It’s especially beautiful at twilight. At l’heure, bleu, the red really pops. B. (So you guessed Hitchcock? Bravo!! I’m trying to track down the film.)


    • Thanks, Gordon!! It was great fun to research. I love the area around Boulevard de Clichy! Pigalle, Montmartre and Abbesses are favorite neighborhoods. Also, Clichy is a straight shot to the Porte de Vanves Flea Market, by Métro or Bus! And now there’s a walking path and bike lane from the Barbés to Métro Clichy. Do you have any café recommendations? Enjoy the week! T.


  3. Fun to see the principle of “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” actually illustrated in those photos as everything but the old red mill seemed to change down through the years!


    • Thanks, Martino!! I always dig your thoughtful words. I’m now obsessed with the Moulin Rouge, of course. I’m now on the hunt for more postcards. I’d like to create a timeline. Let me know if you spot one at the Fleas!! T.


  4. I’m dribbling champagne onto my ruby slippers I am laughing so much. Brilliant post and with The Tin Man wicked repartee absolutely delicious reading. A ice bucket of champagne fun for everyone. Virginia


    • Thanks, Paul!! You are my Paris Pop Quiz guru. I’ll add a line about your Paris by Cell Phone “Where Is It Wednesday” feature. One day I will win the Coveted Prize!! T.


    • Yes, yes!! Add the Moulin Rouge to your list. I recommend photographing her at twilight. Against the blue sky, the red really pops! There’s now a bike lane in the area. Writer and avid cyclist Henry Valentine Miller would have been very impressed!! T.


  5. Great. Another well written, witty blog that has nothing to do with Kim K or other mindless drivel. A blog that I’m certain to become addicted to and if I don’t get my daily dose of Paris sunshine in my inbox I will surely shrivel up and die. Die, I say. Oh, and I say thank you too.


    • Ah, thank you, Jill!! I feel the same way about your retro-rocking site. I love the top shot of the carousel. Beautiful and a tad scary!! Theadora (I also enjoyed the feature on the Marilyn Monroe book. It pushed me to watch “Some Like It Hot” for the 100th time!)


  6. Thanks it was fun to find the answers
    Women to Womwn
    Alfred Hitcock
    Two out of three – didn’t look at other replys util I was sure of my answer


  7. Pingback: Moulin Rouge Riddle Solved: Tin Man Brings Home the Gold! « People, Places and Bling!

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