Poor first talkie vehicle for Josephine Baker
A. Andersen | Bellows Falls, VT USA | 06/11/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A more extensive review of mine appears on the imdb. This is
a poor film by any standards. The sound is not very good and
the editing is very choppy and crude. Acting is merely
acceptable and the Baker mystique does not translate well to
the screen in this-her first talkie (she had made one silent
in 1927, of which only three reels survive). Kino's source
material is of a lower standard than their usual pristine
archive prints - there are lines, jumps and focus problems. It
may have been the only print available at the time.This then is a mixed bag- interesting for historical purposes
and for those fans of Ms. Baker's vocal recordings. She only
made four films and only three talkies are available on video.
Other films in her imdb filmography consist of musical scenes
lifted from the four core films."
Great Talking Debut
Samantha Kelley | USA | 08/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Zou Zou is the story of a girl and a boy who were raised as brother and sister. The sister Zou Zou falls in love with Jean and works contentedly as a laundress who delivers clothing to a theater where Jean works. The production is in trouble because of it's star, Barbara, who is incredibly temperamental. In the end, Zou Zou replaces her and becomes a star. The love story is a little strange, but the dialogue is witty and the story is realistic because Zou Zou has no expectations or ambitions of stardom throughout. The story is similar to 42nd Street just as Josephine Baker's later film Princess Tam Tam resembles The Pygmalion.
Baker has a clear voice that makes the songs enjoyable although her use of vibrato can be a little annoying if it is excessive. The songs are presented at the end of the film similar to the way they are often exhibited in American backstage musicals. However, unlike in American films, we see sections of the show that were shown being rehearsed earlier in the film. The show itself is strange; it consists of a series of vignettes of chorus girls surrounded by oversized objects such as beds and telephones. One oversized object is a birdcage with Baker inside, warbling a lament to Haiti. It is a sweet song accented by Baker's scanty, feathery bird costume. The next song that sings, "There's only one man in Paris for me," is catchy and resembles songs that became standards in America.
The film features an artistic and emotional tracking shot at the end that stands out aesthetically.
Josephine Baker is extrordinarily vivacious and talented in this film. Her character is energetic and interesting.
The print of the film used for the DVD is scratched but not too noticeably. It is still watchable and often times, the story distracts the audience from the damaged print.
The extra features on the disk are nice to see because one might not expect them. However, the two videos concerning Josephine the woman are short. Josephine Baker: The Woman is a short documentary-like tribute featuring opinions of Lynn Whitfield, the woman who played Baker in the biopic, and her son Jean-Claude. The fact that the subtitles are optional is a great addition because those who know French would be distracted by the English words on the bottom of the screen. This feature makes the film accessible to a larger audience."
"What a voice..."
Brad Baker | Atherton, Ca United States | 06/30/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Zou Zou" is the French musical, ala Busby Berkeley, about the laundry girl(Josephine Baker) who falls in love(with her own brother), and naturally, by film's end, becomes an enormous theater star. A final scene has Baker drenched in the latest chic Paris fashion. Wounded by the loss of her one true love, it is but one of many touching sequences. The 1934 "Zou Zou" co-stars Jean Gabin. A generous Kino DVD, the transfer includes a documentary with Baker's adopted son, Jean-Claude Baker, several songs, and other extras. Kino released a video of "Zou Zou" in 2003. Choppy and crude, it sported lines, jumps, and breaks. Sadly, this 2005 DVD is from the same source print."
The One and Only Talented Josephine Baker
Wolfe Project | Manassas, Virginia | 03/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am a big fan of Josephine baker. Unfortunately this movie was recorded in French. Those of you who do not speak french will have to rely on the written text to understand whats going on in this Movie. Even though it was recorded in a foreign language, Josephine Baker managed to pull it off. The movie, Zou Zou is still a hit! I really enjoyed the singing."