The 7 Wonders of the Pre-Code World: 3

Maurice Chevalier’s secretaries.

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Does Maurice Chevalier really NEED so many secretaries? Of course he does — he’s Maurice Chevalier! And do their secretarial dresses really need to be backless? Yes, they do. He’s Maurice Chevalier!

From FOLIES BERGERE, a 20th Century Fox musical comedy that makes a pretty good job of impersonating the Busby Berkeley style:

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Girls in stockings with umbrellas dancing on lightning bolts. It’s a visual treat and a health and safety nightmare.

6 Responses to “The 7 Wonders of the Pre-Code World: 3”

  1. Speaking of secretaries, I discovered last night that Maxine Cooper has died at the age of 84, memorable as Mike Hammer’s right-hand gal in Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly.

  2. Very sorry to hear that. Everybody in that film is amazing. Maybe the va-va-voom guy is a little bit less amazing than the others, but he’s still amazing.

  3. Maxine Cooper can also be seen in WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, as a pleasant bank teller when Bette Davis goes to cash a check. That bank, by the way, is now a Blockbuster video store. It, and the Larchmont Shopping lane that we see Davis drive down, is about 200 yards from my house here in Los Angeles; I walk there every day. I only found out after his death that Robert Aldrich’s offices were a block away as well.

  4. Apparently screenwriter Lem Dobbs sent a copy of an early draft of The Limey to Aldrich’s office when he was a teenager. He still thinks it could have rescued Aldrich from the decline of his last ten years. But he never even got a reply.

    Weirdly, of course, Dobbs is the son of the painter Kitaj, and appears as a child actor in Michael Powell’s The Boy Who Turned Yellow. Powell seems obsessed with the children of famous fathers, cf Karlheinz Boehm and Anna Massey in Peeping Tom.

  5. Long as we’re talking about “Folies Bergere,” we might as well name the choreographer — Dave Gould, who also choreographed “Flying Down to Rio.”

  6. Thanks! That’s useful to know. I wouldn’t have automatically connected the films, but they’re both a little bit outside the main flow of musicals (FB is Chevalier except not at Paramount, FDTR is Fred and Ginger except only just) and both good.

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