Moulin Rouge is the story of 19th century French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, portrayed by José Ferrer. The film records his frustration over his physical handicap (the growth in his legs was stunted by a childhood accident), his efforts to "lose" himself in Paris' bawdy Montmartre district, and his career as a painter, which brought him money only when he turned out advertising posters--but what posters! Toulouse-Lautrec's drinking and debauchery lead to his early death, which in the hands of director John Huston is staged (brilliantly) in the manner of a musical comedy finale. This is the film in which Zsa Zsa Gabor actually acts, in the role of demimonde entertainer Jane Avril. As a bonus, the film's musical score (by Georges Auric) managed to hit the Top Ten charts in the U.S. When this immensely successful film was released to television in the late '50s, Moulin Rouge proved to be one of the strongest-ever incentives to purchase a color TV set.
by Hal Erickson synopsis