Princess Tam Tam / Zou Zou (Josephine Baker Double Feature) (Blu-ray)
Directed by Edmond T. Greville and Marc Allegret
In the 1930s, black performers were forbidden to steal the spotlight from white actors on the American screen. To circumvent this unwritten law, singer/dancer/comedian Josephine Baker accepted the invitation to work in France. The resulting films—Princess Tam Tam and Zou Zou—reveal what segregationist producers in the U.S. were afraid of: a confident, sexy, scene-stealing African American woman who spewed exuberance, expressiveness and raw charisma like an uncorked bottle of champagne. Princess Tam Tam is a Pygmalion-like comedy in which Josephine Baker stars as a mischievous shepherd girl who rises through society to become a pretend princess and the toast of Paris nightlife. Conceived as a vehicle for Baker, then among Europe’s most popular entertainers, Zou Zou was her debut talking film. In the tradition of 42nd Street, it tells the story of a talented Cinderella (Baker) who saves a show and becomes an overnight sensation. Features Josephine's poignant rendition of “Haiti,” sung while clad in feathers and swinging in a birdcage.
This film contains racism and/or the mistreatment of people or cultures. Such depictions, in any era, are inexcusable. The film is being presented in its original form to bear witness to the history of racism in cinema, and to encourage a dialogue about how a future cinema can become more inclusive.
Blu-ray Extras Include:
Three 2005 documentary shorts focus on Josephine Baker: “The Woman,” “The Performer, ”and “The Films.” Includes interviews with actress Lynn Whitfield, theater critic Margo Jefferson, dance historian Elizabeth Kendall and Baker’s adopted son Jean-Claude.
Video tour of Chez Josephine, Jean-Claude Baker’s culinary exhibition of rare Josephine Baker paintings and posters.
The Fireman of the Folies-Bergère, a 1928 short featuring Baker
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