Hang onto your hats ~
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!