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kick up your heels with MacLaine & Co.!

  • Aug 26, 2000
Shirley MacLaine and Frank Sinatra kick up their heels in CAN-CAN, the sparkling film adaptation of the Cole Porter musical comedy.

The setting is the Montmatre district of Paris, circa 1896. The can-can dance has been ruled as immoral and scandalous by the polite society, but that doesn't stop Simone Pistache (Shirley MacLaine) from performing the routine at her cafe. She is helped by her boyfriend--crooked lawyer Francois Durnais (Frank Sinatra). Simone's happy existence comes crashing down when she's arrested on the orders of the new district judge, Philipe Forrestier (Louis Jourdan).

Francois decides that the best way for Simone to continue her activities is to seduce Philipe. Pretty soon, Simone has well and truly fallen for his charms, but the hilarious love triangle has only just begun!...

This version of Cole Porter's 1953 Broadway musical is a very enjoyable, breezy viewing experience. The costumes from Irene Sharaff are lavish, and the art direction is flawless. MacLaine and Sinatra (continuing the screen partnership they had established with "Some Came Running") have a very fun rapport. Maurice Chevalier and Louis Jourdan switch on their Gallic charm to maximum effect here.

The original Cole Porter tunestack was augmented with "You Do Something to Me", "Let's Fall in Love", and "Just One of Those Things"; whilst several extra character numbers were deleted ("If You Loved Me Truly", "Allez-Vous-En", "Never Give Anything Away"). The score was lushly arranged and conducted by Sinatra's frequent collaborator Nelson Riddle.

Choreography from Hermes Pan is full of colour and excitement. MacLaine (with the help of a life-sized dummy) is thrown and throttled in a precision-drilled "Apache Dance", and leads the troupe in the "Garden of Eden" Ballet. Juliet Prowse, as Claudine, offers a top performance, too.

TRIVIA: During her early Broadway days, Shirley MacLaine briefly considered applying for Gwen Verdon's understudy in "Can-Can".

The brand-new 2-disc DVD from Fox's "Marquee Musicals" series presents a beautifully-restored print, in complete Roadshow length with overture, intermission and exit music sequences. Extra features on the second disc include "A Leg Up: The Making of Can Can" which delves into the history of the Broadway musical (and features some superb rare footage of Gwen Verdon from the original production). "The Classic Cole Porter" offers a brief glimpse into the life of the celebrated composer. "Book by Burrows" is a salute to CAN-CAN's original author Abe Burrows with reminisces from his children.

The "Restoration Comparison" allows to you see the new DVD master with the earlier 1993 video/laserdisc release-print, and it's quite evident that the good people at Fox have gone above and beyond to restore CAN-CAN to it's original brilliance. There are also some still galleries plus the trailer. In addition, Fox has packaged a set of four postcard-sized lobbycards in the DVD case!

The new edition of CAN-CAN is a must for all fans of the classic musicals.

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Byron Kolln ()
Ranked #145
Byron has been actively involved in theatre since the age of 12. He has had a great variety of roles (both on-stage and off). In addition he has hosted the long-running "Show Business" programme … more
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How to adapt a Broadway musical for the movies? Well, if you've got Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine signed up, you throw out most of the original and make up something new--which is how Cole Porter'sCan-Cancame to the screen. It had been a smash on Broadway, and on filmCan-Canlocked up the #2 box-office spot for 1960 (nestled betweenBen-HurandPsycho). From a modern standpoint, the movie's popularity can be attributed to the stars, the colorful widescreen production, the sexy subject matter, and of course the Porter songs. It can't really be explained any other way, becauseCan-Canisn't among the most engaging movie musicals; it has the stolid, proscenium-framed look of Fox's 1950s widescreen musicals, and the story is only mildly diverting. The saturated color makes 19th-century Montmarte come to life, and the can-can numbers (and the wonderfully daft Garden of Eden ballet) look appropriately splashy. For a bit of authentic Gallic je ne sais quoi, Maurice Chevalier and Louis Jourdan are imported fromGigi, a big hit two years earlier. MacLaine and Sinatra have their cozy chemistry ("Let's Do It" fares especially well with them), and the movie marks the film debut of the dimply dancer Juliet Prowse.

The DVD provides a gorgeous color presentation of the movie. A second disc has some OK featurettes, including a making-of documentary that includes the famous story of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev's visit to the set of Can-Can, at ...

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Director: Walter Lang
Genre: Music, Musical
Release Date: March 9, 1960
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 131 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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