Thursday, 21 June 2012

Maurice Chevalier

Maurice Auguste Chevalier (September 12, 1888 – January 1, 1972) was a French actor, singer, entertainer and a noted Sprechgesang performer. Read more on Wikipedia

Lowry refers to a revue called  Paris en Fleures which featured Maurice Chevalier at the Casino de Paris to emphasis a point he is making in the film script for Tender Is The Night about the creation of atmosphere in the film with the use of signs, words and advertisements of Paris in 1926; "Here the signs are not only historically accurate - your research department being at the moment the memory of one of your writers - and Paris en Fleures at the Casino de Paris" (The Cinema of Malcolm Lowry: a scholarly edition of Lowry's "Tender is the Night" Edited by Miguel Mota and Paul Tiessen Pg. 75). We can assume that Lowry must have recalled a poster of the revue or even seen the revue on his 1926 visit to the city with The Leys School. He alludes to the poster again; "Nearby the Metro is held a moment: Maurice Chevalier's grin" and later; "Cut to our party getting out of the taxi in front of the Casino de Paris. We see the billboards with posters of Chevalier - the show Paris En Fleures. (Pg. 78). Later in the film script the posters are reprised in another scene set in Paris (Pg.129).

We can only speculate why Lowry refers to the poster of Maurice Chevalier. He may be using the poster in the same way as he did with one of Maria Landrock in Under The Volcano - using later knowledge of a person's politics or role to post-date on an earlier period in the person's life - though the reader or viewer would know about the person's politics. When Lowry was writing the film script, Chevalier had been accused on collaborating with the Nazis during the occupation of France.

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