QUEEN OF THE TABARIN (1960)
Soledad Miranda, left, in her first Jess Franco film, the 1960 musical comedy starring her mentor Mikaela Wood, right. A very colorful, Spanish inflected genre piece.
This is an absolutely delicious looking candy colored musical which was originally scheduled to be directed by the reliably workmanlike Leon Klimovsky, whom Franco worked with as a writer and assistant. The delightful mise en scene is entrancing from the opening shots, which are focused on the rooftops of a working class section of Madrid. It’s almost a cubist approach with pastel hues. The camera swoops down from an overhead angle on Mikaela Wood doing a whirling folk dance for the street people. As in so many of his films it begins in the midst of an erotic performance.
It’s a Universe away from the Gothic black and white nightmare world in the forthcoming GRITOS EN LA NOCHE (1961), where even the dancing girls seemed stifled by the imprisoning male gaze of Dr. Orloff (Howard Vernon). But there are no such malignant male gazes here, only gorgeous costumes, romantic intrigues and happy songs. It’s easy to get lost in this beautiful haze only equaled by the Hollywood musicals of Minelli and Donen. The longer Spanish version must be seen to be appreciated by Jess Franco enthusiasts and those who claimed Franco was a sloppy craftsman. Not here.
This would greatly benefit from a full 4k restoration. Music becomes the language of cinema and vice versa here. An essential starting point in the Jess Franco curriculum.
(C) Robert Monell, 2017