Moulin Rouge (1952)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Period Film  |   Run Time - 123 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Mike Cummings

Acting in this 1954 John Huston film was a painful exercise for José Ferrer: He had to stand and walk on his knees to approximate the height of his character, the diminutive French artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901). But any discomfort Ferrer felt served only to enhance his performance, for Toulouse-Lautrec led a tortured existence after suffering a childhood injury that stunted his growth and scarred his self-esteem. Ferrer gives a moving performance, playing his dwarfish character with pathetic desperation as he fails twice at love. His sensitive portrayal earned him an Oscar nomination and the acclaim of many critics. Oddly, it was the second time in four years that Ferrer played a Frenchman with a pronounced deformity and a miserable love life. In 1950, he portrayed the long-nosed fictional hero, Cyrano de Bergerac, winning an Oscar for that performance. The introspective gloom of Ferrer's Toulouse-Lautrec clashes markedly with the outward cheer and brilliant color that the painter captures on canvas, and with the merry Paris nightlife at the Moulin Rouge café that cinematographer Oswald Morris captures beautifully on film.