21 January 2010

Folies Bergere, 1940


You can hear the murmurs from the audience, German-accented French whispered in voices rendolent of  Veuve Cliquot and blood, elle est jolie, nicht wahr?

These pictures beg to be framed by a b-movie story. The comic is fatally in love with a dancer. He joins the resistance to get her attention. When the Gestapo takes him away, she finally realizes. Alas, too late. Guest appearances by Paul Morand and Coco Chanel.

Or, a dancer has a lover in the Resistance on the side, but the Colonel has his eye on her. Hijinks ensue involving wardrobes, pissoirs and corsets. In the final scene of this movie, she is shorn by the mob who thinks she collaborated -- but little do they know she kept secret documents for the red orchestra safe up her ass (and was nearly discovered by a kinky captain with a taste for sodomy).

Or, an innocent country girl who loves Ste. Jeanne d'Arc, and is only there to make money to save her family's goat farm in the Massif Central is seduced by an older woman. The older woman, is, of course, an admirer of Germany and learned awful things in Berlin. When her money starts going for ether and morphine instead of to home, her aged grand-pere tracks her down.. She sees him on the street, outside, the Boche spitting on him and making fun of his beret. She realizes in an instant the errors of her ways, and goes home to join her old boyfriend in the macquis.

In all of these movies, veryone is screwing everyone, of course. It's not only show biz, it's the end of everything normal, so why not?

Robert Bothner (1899 - 1967). Paris under occupation.
Images of revue and cabaret shows in Folies Bergère, Paris. 1940

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