French Cancan (1955)

Directed by Jean Renoir

Nineteenth-century Paris comes vibrantly alive in Jean Renoir’s exhilarating tale of the opening of the world-renowned Moulin Rouge. Jean Gabin plays the wily impresario Danglard, who makes the cancan all the rage while juggling the love of two beautiful women—an Egyptian belly-dancer and a naive working girl turned cancan star.

Danglard decides to revive an old and little-known working-class dance, which he christens the "French cancan" in order to make it sound vaguely foreign but moreover sexually alluring in order to attract the wealthy British and Americans. In that sense, French Cancan is, amongst other things, an almost perfect metaphor for the post-war French cinema. Olivier Assayas was probably paying attention for Irma Vep (1996)... Curiously little singing for a 'musical'.