21 March 2018 | SimonJack
Amusing comedy romance with some song and dance
"Moulin Rouge" is a comedy romance and musical revue film. Typical of the musicals of the day, its plot revolves around the stage and a Broadway production. Those types of musicals generally had very little plot - just enough to pull together various song and dance numbers. However, this "Moulin Rouge" differs. The plot is front and center here, with the song and dance numbers almost as fill.
The story is a love triangle of sorts. As Molly Morris says, it's a "two-sided triangle." Constance Bennett plays a double role. She is Helen Hall and also Raquel, who was a vaudeville partner in a sister act years before. She says they weren't real sisters but look-alikes.
Franchot Tone and Constance Bennett work well together in this comedy, and Tullio Carminati is a good third person for the humor. Tone is Douglas Hall, a playwright who has been married to Helen Hall for four years. However, Helen wants to return to the stage. When she swaps places with her former look-alike stage partner, Raquel, she complicates her marriage to Hall further.
The scrip is written so that this never becomes too serious a problem, and instead it provides for more of the comedy. It's not a great comedy by any means, but an enjoyable little film for the humor and romance. Although Bennett also sang, and there are a couple of good songs and some dance numbers, the musical part of this film is mostly forgettable. The fun is in the on-again, off-again romance between the two leads whose characters are madly in love.
Franchot Tone was a very talented actor who played in a variety of films, from comedy and romance to drama and mystery. His best work was in the 1930s and 1940s. His later years were spent mostly in TV series and films in supporting roles. Constance Bennett was one of the early leading ladies of sound films. She too was very talented in a variety of films. The sister of Joan Bennett, she slowed down at mid-career in the 1940s after marrying her fourth husband, an Air Force colonel. She traveled with her career husband and was active in entertaining WW II occupational troops after the war and during the Berlin Airlift. Her husband, John Coulter, reached the rank of Brig. General, and survived Bennet after 21 years of marriage. She was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, and may be one of the only performers buried there, and most likely the only actress.
Here are some favorite lines from this film.
Molly Morris (Helen Westley), after Helen impersonating Raquel points her out as her maid, Fifi, says, "Fifi! Sound like a lap dog."
Douglas Hall, "I wouldn't have your mind for anything on earth. It is shallow. It's loathsome." Victor Le Maire, "I know, Doug. Forgive me."
Helen Hall, "Molly, I'm a fool." Molly Morris, "Afraid he will, or afraid he won't?" Helen, "Oh, I don't know."
Molly Morris, "Well, I've seen some queer things in my time, but this is my first view of a two-sided triangle."
Douglas Hall, "Vickie, Helen's one of the finest girls in the world. Do you understand that?" Victor Le Maire, "Of course, Doug, but..." Douglas Hall, "But there's two sides to every question. I love her. I love her very much. But, but... do I love her enough? That's the question, Vickie. Do I love her enough?" Victor Le Maire, "Really, Doug. I oughta just go." Douglas Hall, "It's a big step. A mighty big step. Bermuda! Who wants to see Bermuda? Why, I can see Bermuda anytime I want. I don't have to... you see what I mean, Vickie?" Victor Le Marie, "I guess so, Doug. What are you talking about?" Douglas Hall, "I guess you're right after all. Thanks, Vickie. Thanks a thousand times" Victor slinks away and takes off.