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June 2001Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /June01/

Ma pomme Chansons 1935-1946  
  NAXOS Nostalgia 8.120508   [55:30]

Maurice Chevalier

Who could resist this suave charmer with his straw boater, his expansive gestures, his insouciance, his broad smile and his special way with a song: his almost-but-not-quite over the top expressiveness embracing a half-talking, half-laughing jocular style of delivery that was uniquely his own.

On-screen, in Hollywood and Paris, he played a succession of seducers who were more loveable buffoon than beast and his cultivated roué image endeared him to millions of female admirers. His Hollywood career took off with Paramount in the 1930s in such films as The Love Parade, One Hour With You, Love Me Tonight and Merry Widow (each co-starring Jeanette McDonald). In 1935 he went to 20th Century Fox for Folies-Bergère to partner Merle Oberon in a musical with risqué dialogue to exploit his cheeky image more fully. He returned to Europe to film in London and Paris during the late 1930s making such films as: The Beloved Vagabond (1936) and Pièges (1939). Characteristically he maintained a presence in France during the German occupation.

After being exonerated of collaborating with the Nazis (he entertained French prisoners of war in Germany) he was hailed as star and unofficial "ambassador" of French cabaret. He resumed his film career with renewed vigour and his later films included besides Gigi (1958), Love in the Afternoon (1957), Can-Can (1959), Fanny (1961), and I'd Rather Be Rich (1964).

Maurice Chevalier died in Paris on 1st January 1972 aged 83.

This collection of songs, full of sparkle and joie-de-vivre, spans his career from 1935 to 1946. It includes such pearls as 'Ma Pomme', 'La P'tite Dame De L'Expo', the Latin tnag of 'Il Pleurait', the vivacious 'Place Pigalle' (composed by Chevallier with the pianist Alstone) and Chevalier's own chinoiserie of 'Mandarinade'.

A real tonic.

Ian Lace

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