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Doin' Time At The Moulin Rouge

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 13, 2005 6:07PM

Been enjoying the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at the Art Institute? Wishing you could see those can-can girls come to life in vivid Technicolor but have an intense dislike of musicals based on pop songs? Then head over to The Gene Siskel Film Center for a screening of John Huston’s 1952 version 2005_09_13_moulin.jpgof Moulin Rouge starring Jose Ferrer as Toulouse-Lautrec. Unlike the version by Baz Luhrmann that focused on the love story between Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, Huston’s version has Lautrec as its lead.

When Chicagoist thinks of John Huston, it’s his work with Humphrey Bogart that usually comes to mind, not 1890s Paris. The film doesn’t exactly benefit from his involvement though its problems are probably too much to overcome. Nick’s Flick Picks rather nicely sums it all up but we can tell you all you need to know about it in five words: it co-stars Zsa Zsa Gabor.

In a tribute to Huston’s star power, the film was nominated for seven awards though it managed to take home only two: art direction and costume design—the same awards won by Luhrmann’s 2001 film. And it certainly can’t hold a candle to 1962’s cartoon homage to the era, Gay Purr-ee. But it’s still worth seeing for the cinematography which attempts to capture the lines and color of Lautrec’s work.

For a cinematic view of a more modern France, check out the films in The Gene’s Gilding The Cage: French Cinema of the Occupation series. All the films in the series were shot between the Nazi invasion in 1940 and the Allied liberation in 1944. As films reflect their time, these works are much lighter fare than you might be used to from French cinema. Check the website for the full schedule.

Moulin Rouge screens at The Gene this Saturday at 6:15 PM, on Friday September 23rd at 6:00 PM and on Saturday September 24th at 4:45 PM.