Can-Can (1960)

Simone (Shirley MacLaine) owns a cafe whose dancers perform the illegal Can-Can in 19th century France. The place is constantly raided. The dancers are often brought before a judge who enjoys the cafe (Maurice Chevalier), and are defended by a womanizing attorney named Francois (Frank Sinatra), who also enjoys the Can-Can. So they are released to dance again.

A new, stern judge, Phillipe (Louis Jourdan), arrives. Phillipe offers the cafe owner marriage, much to Francois' chagrin.

Between two men

The rest of the film sees Francois trying to win back the leading lady, including getting her drunk in front of Phillipe's friends in an attempt to embarrass Simone.

But which guy does she choose? Simone chooses that louse, Francois, for no reason except that she's more accustomed to him.

This is 1960. Frank Sinatra has given up trying in his films and is headlong into his blase, ring-a-ding-ding era. The swinging 'Sixties Sinatra has his merits, but it has no place when it ruins a film. Francois, the way Sinatra plays him, is abusive, which makes the ending of this frothy musical far from happy or even good.

Phillipe empathizes

Jourdan plays Phillipe with such empathy for Simone, (and with such intelligence that you wonder what he sees in the dizzy dame in the first place) that much of the sympathy in the film is with this guy (which says a lot for Jourdan's talent since a leading lady who's sandwiched in between two men usually has the audience's full attention).

Therefore, when he's dumped for that cad who wants to make Simone just another notch in his bedpost, I want to scream.

Simone deserves better treatment, and so does Phillipe.

Paul: It's over. Don't go on torturing yourself.
Phillipe: I don't know how to stop.


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