Jesse James Presents: Austin Speed Shop product details page

Jesse James Presents: Austin Speed Shop

Jesse James Presents: Austin Speed Shop
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It's 1934, and in America the movie industry is about to get all head up about morality and decency on screen, and -- fearing separate legal and censorship entanglements in each of 48 states -- the studios were about to weave themselves a straightjacket called the Production Code, banning most overt expressions of sexuality or even a hint of unpunished immorality. Meanwhile, in France, they were making movies like Zou Zou, which took an American-style backstage musical framework and threw into it the sexiest black American performer of her day, Josephine Baker -- who wasn't allowed anywhere near an American movie studio. Thrust happily into musical numbers so erotically revealing that they left nothing to the imagination, Baker, co-star Jean Gabin, and director Marc All?gret (whose eye for female screen talent included nurturing the early careers of Simone Simon and Brigitte Bardot) created one of a tiny handful of must-see 1930s musicals generated outside of the United States. Except that this one, with its provocative production numbers and interracial romance, is also a kind of very nonchalant poke-in-the-eye of America and its popular culture and prejudices. On that basis alone -- even overlooking the dramatic content, the performances, and the musical numbers -- Zouzou is essential viewing for fans of the star, the genre, or the era, not to mention anyone with more than an ounce of curiosity about pop culture history. Bruce Eder, All Movie Guide