Nationalizing and Segregating Performance: Josephine Baker and Stardom in Zouzou (1934) (Critical Essay) - Post Script

Nationalizing and Segregating Performance: Josephine Baker and Stardom in Zouzou (1934) (Critical Essay)

By Post Script

  • Release Date: 2006-09-22
  • Genre: Business & Personal Finance
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Nationalizing and Segregating Performance: Josephine Baker and Stardom in Zouzou (1934) (Critical Essay) by Post Script epub - ebook - audiobook

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INTRODUCTION Josephine Baker's first appearance before the motion picture camera as "star" was, by most accounts, a disheartening experience for the famous African American performer. La Sirene des Tropiques (1927) was co-directed by Henri Etievant and Mario Nalpas, with the help of assistant director Luis Bunel. The silent film tells the story of an innocent girl from the tropics who does the Charleston and eventually brings the dance to Paris. Based upon an idea suggested by her manager and lover Giuseppe "Pepito" Abatino, who also costarred, the production was considered by most critics nothing more than a curiosity even upon its release. (1) Many involved with the film, such as Bunel, characterized the finished product as a joke exemplified by tasteless moments featuring the star falling into a flour bin, thus becoming "white," and later suggestively bathing herself to restore her color. Baker found the entire experience humiliating, stating that the "'film brought tears to my eyes. Was that ugly, silly person me?'" (Rose 120). When she once again ventured before the cameras in the 1930s, Baker and Abatino made certain that her first sound production reflected a star persona that the famous dancer could comfortably embrace. Of all her motion picture appearances, Marc Allegret's Zouzou (1934) became Baker's personal favorite. During its production, she said, "'The film enchants me.... Everything seems easy, because I feel the story so very strongly. It all seems so real, so true, that I sometimes think it's my own life being played out on the sets'" (Wood 182).

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