THE FRENCH WAY REVIEWED
“The French Way” was a film about families fighting over their kids getting married. Released in France in 1940, the film didn’t arrive in America until 1952. World War II had a lot to do with it, alongside other things. The film is a screwball comedy that was meant to be a Josephine Baker vehicle. Unfortunately, Baker exists as a third wheel that tries to keep the kids together in spite of their parents. The role of Zazu plays to her strengths without really taxing her.
Compared to the other works in her performance history, this is incredibly lesser Baker. Still, it’s nice to see such a pioneering talent perform in a mainstream film. The real feat here is the restoration work that went into saving the original cut of this film. While the American cut is widely more available, the elements to make for a longer true-to-form presentation were in the wild. I’m rapidly becoming a fan of Sprocket Vault and SabuCat’s work.
Film restoration remains incredibly important, even as the vast majority of film fans are losing sight of the physical in lieu of streaming. These elements need to be saved for future tech leaps to be possible. Good work all around.
- 1.37:1 1080p transfer
- LPCM 2.0
RELEASE DATE: 7/10/18
The Plot Thus Far
Born into poverty, Josephine Baker rose from a childhood living in a St. Louis slum to the toast of France – captivating audiences through the stage, recordings and motion pictures, and you’ll get to see why in The French Way. It’s a farcical romantic-comedy set in contemporary WWII France, about young lovers forbidden to marry by their respective families. Baker, as Zazu, the owner of a nightclub, inherits a job restoring harmony between the two families and allowing the young lovers to ‘se marier.’ A mélange of French character actors add to the fun, but when Josephine’s on the screen she is as Ernest Hemingway once said, the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.The French Way filmed in 1940 — literally amidst bombing raids – released in France in 1945, and briefly shown in the USA in 1952 where the order of some scenes was changed and about 2-3 minutes of dramatic footage was cut. In all other respects, it is virtually complete as originally released. Note: In real life, Josephine Baker aided the French Resistance and was awarded, among other honors, the Croix de Guerre by the French military.