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French Cancan

  • Directed by Jean Renoir
  • France, 1954, 102 mins., French

Jean Renoir’s return to France in the early 1950s, following more than a decade of self-exile, culminated in his first film back on home soil: the legendary, extremely colorful French Cancan. The can-can, an old-fashioned dance in the world of the film (circa the 1890s), experiences a massive revival at the hands of Henri Danglard (Jean Gabin, magnificent as always), a womanizing Montmartre café owner and habitually risk-taking businessman. Down on his luck, Danglard hatches a plan to re-introduce this national dance to the masses, with the substantial help of his new star dancer and love interest Nini (the fantastic Françoise Arnoul), who is plucked from a life as a laundress and thrust into the spotlight. Part romance, part comedy, part musical, part backstage drama—French Cancan features some of the most unforgettable group choreography of the period and is one of Renoir’s most energetic, entertaining films. “A delicious musical comedy that deserves comparison with the golden age Hollywood musicals of the same period.”—Roger Ebert. Imported 35mm print!

Genres: Musical, Drama, Comedy

Other Films by Jean Renoir

The Golden Coach

Renoir’s 18th-century comic fantasy is a valentine to the theater and the music of Vivaldi, starring the larger-than-life Anna Magnani. A commedia dell’arte troupe from Italy arrives in an 18th-century Peruvian town where the viceroy, infatuated by the leading actress Camilla, presents her with the fabulous golden coach, a symbol of power that he intended

Rules of the Game

Although it was met with diverse responses when it was released, few films have earned such universal critical acclaim as Renoir’s masterpiece. The “game” is life: Renoir and cinematographer Henri Cartier-Bresson paint a broad canvas, taking as their subject the foibles of bourgeois French society. At a weekend hunting party on the eve of World

The River

Renoir’s film, late in his filmmaking career, sees the master working in color for the first time. The story follows a well-to-do British family living on the banks of the Ganges River. Teenager Harriet (Patricia Walters) and her sisters are brought up in an environment that melds the philosophies of East and West in equal

The Grand Illusion

A humanistic, sensitive masterpiece nearly unparalleled in cinema history, Renoir’s WWI drama concerns the trials and tribulations of a group of French POWs under German imprisonment. Most of the group are working-class, led by Lieutenant Maréchal (an unforgettable Jean Gabin); they scheme and plot—sometimes to the point of revolt—to escape the prison camp, meanwhile reveling