MakeOverKill

Hang onto your hats ~

His Best Client from David Cairns on Vimeo.

Doesn’t matter if you can’t speak French. Me neither. What matters is that Rene Lefevre (he of the decadent eyebrows) is presenting his wife (Elvire Popescu) as his mother, the better to boost sales of his new miracle beauty treatment. He can shave years off a woman’s life, with a simple lie!

The film is SA MEILLEURE CLIENTE (His Best Client), a 1932 Pathe-Natan production directed by house favourite Pierre Colombier. One of the specialities of the studio was rascally comedies about duplicitous con artists — a bitter irony is to be found in the eventual fate of Bernard Natan himself, convicted of fraud and handed over to the Nazis.

What a spectacular sequence this is — full of startling images that tiptoe around hilarity to belly-flop into creepy grotesquerie. There’s a Busby Berkeley parallel to be had, I feel — an eeriness amid elaborately staged art deco spectacle, choreography and dehumanization marching in step, nudity as architecture, costume as fetishwear, our own eyebrows rising by irresistible increments until they vanish ‘neath our brims.

Hang onto those hats!

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12 Responses to “MakeOverKill”

  1. He looks like he could play both roles!

  2. Featuring the french version of Margaret Dumont.

  3. David Boxwell Says:

    Marcel Dalio also sports those distracting brows in RULES OF THE GAME–Renoir’s only mistake in an otherwise perfect work of art.

  4. David Boxwell Says:

    The sublime nasality of RL! And the wipes are fab–too bad they became extinct after their overuse circa 1934.

    All in all, this goes way beyond the spa sequence in Cukor’s THE WOMEN (39), which is bizarre enough.

    I love how the French _still_ believe a spa holiday is better for you than a sweaty gym workout.

  5. This really is the ne plus ultra of moderne beauty styling — it even competes with the Busby Berkeley steam baths of Roman Scandals.

  6. Those eyebrows must have been on special when Marcel Dalio walked in — he uses them in La Maison du Maltais/Sirocco too.

    David C., I hope you’ll have even more treasures to share with us — this is quite extraordinary.

  7. I must upload something from Le Bonheur soon, that one’s a genuine masterpiece, and a career high for the great Charles Boyer.

  8. I’d love to see Cantor try the Dalio-LeFevre eyebrow look.

  9. Le Bonheur sounds like it has all kinds of things going for it — L’Herbier, Morlay, Michel Simon. Looking forward to clips!

  10. Morlay sings, Simon camps it up, Marais walks on and off, and Paulette Dubost is very sweet.

  11. david wingrove Says:

    Le Bonheur is one of the most intelligent and emotionally sophisticated comedies of the 30s – up there with the best of Mitchell Leisen and Ernst Lubitsch !

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