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Princess Tam Tam

3.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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(Jun 21, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Buoyed by the success of the French musical Zou Zou a year earlier, the same team created in Princess Tam Tam a Pygmalion-like comedy in which a mischievous shepherd girl rises through society to become a pretend princess and the toast of Paris nightlife. Alwina (Josephine Baker) is discovered by a French aristocrat (Albert Prejean) while he is in Tunisia seeking inspiration for a new novel. He becomes infatuated with this innocent gamin and constructs a plot to polish her charms and bring her to Paris where he presents her to society as an Indian princess. In a thinly-veiled parallel to Baker's own experience, Alwinna becomes an exotic celebrity, a favorite subject for the city's great artists and a guest at the most important social events. Her rise to notoriety climaxes in a posh nightclub, where she is coaxed into drinking too much by her mentor's jealous wife and falls prey to the compelling tom-tom beat of the club orchestra, whereupon she leaps to the stage, strips off her shimmering evening gown and dances as only La Baker could.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Josephine Baker, Albert Préjean, Robert Arnoux, Germaine Aussey, Georges Péclet
  • Directors: Edmond T. Gréville
  • Writers: Pepito Abatino, Yves Mirande
  • Producers: Arys Nissotti
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Kino International
  • DVD Release Date: June 21, 2005
  • Run Time: 77 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009CTTZG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,362 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Princess Tam Tam" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Josephine Baker, born and raised in St. Louis, left the United States as a teenager to escape racial discrimination. She moved to France and in the mid-20s became the toast of Paris dancing and singing in the Folies Berge. Billed as the "Black Venus," Baker wowed audiences with her provacative moves, especially her infamous "banana dance." And she made a few movies as well.

"Princess Tam Tam," filmed in Tunisia, is one of her better efforts. It is a Pygmalion-type story about a writer who takes an African vacation to escape his arrogant society wife. He and his collaborator seek inspiration to write a novel and they find it in an exotic native girl played by Baker. The writer decides to transform the girl into a princess and bring her back to France to make his wife jealous. The film is enhanced by Baker, whose personality shines through - it is easy to see why audiences were so enchanted with her. She gets to do two dance numbers - one inside a cafe and the other during an elaborate Busby Berkeley style number at the end of the film.

The extras on the disc inside a 20 minutes documentary which discusses three significant Baker films - "Siren of the Tropics," "Zou Zou," and "Princess Tam Tam." It includes interviews with Baker's adopted son, Jean-Claude as well as actress Lynn Whitfield (who portrayed Baker in the film "The Josephine Baker Story"), NY Times theater critic Margo Jefferson and dance critic Elizabeth Kendall.
Comment 13 of 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on February 16, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Princess Tam Tam" is one of only two talkies made by the legendary Josephine Baker. It is, in this viewer's opinion, the better of the two, and quite a delightful movie.
The story is reminiscent of "Pygmallion:" Awina (Baker), a Tunisian woman, is taken in by a pompous French writer and transformed from a street beggar to a "cultured" society matron. Said writer is only attempting to enrage his estranged wife and gather material for his next book, but he manages to convince Awina that he is enamoured with her. The wife, meanwhile, is carrying on an affair of her own. When the writer returns to Paris with his 'exotic new love,' the wife and her friends work to expose Awina as a fraud. As this is a musical comedy, all's well in the end, as both Awina and the author find success and happiness (apart!).
What makes "Princess Tam Tam" special is the manner in which it captures Josephine Baker's irrepressible and unique spirit. She has several opportunities to show off her inimitable and uninhibited style of dance, her fantastic sense of humour and her 'star power.' At the same time, the film is not merely a star vehicle: the storyline and supporting cast work well to create a film with some substance. There is lovely cinematography and some stunning views of the desert and Roman ruins (sections of the film were actually shot on location in Tunisia).
One criticism about this film is the quality of the English subtitling. The actual French dialogue is, in a number of cases, much richer and more entertaining than the sparse subtitles would suggest.
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By A Customer on February 11, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
"Princess Tam Tam" is one of only two talkies made by the legendary Josephine Baker. It is, in this viewer's opinion, the better of the two, and quite a delightful movie.
The story is reminiscent of "Pygmallion:" Awina (Baker), a Tunisian woman, is taken in by a pompous French writer and transformed from a street beggar to a "cultured" society matron. Said writer is only attempting to enrage his estranged wife and gather material for his next book, but he manages to convince Awina that he is enamoured with her. The wife, meanwhile, is carrying on an affair of her own. When the writer returns to Paris with his 'exotic new love,' the wife and her friends work to expose Awina as a fraud. As this is a musical comedy, all's well in the end, as both Awina and the author find success and happiness (apart!).
What makes "Princess tam Tam" special is the manner in which it captures Josephine Baker's irrepressible and unique spirit. She has several opportunities to show off her inimitable and uninhibited style of dance, her fantastic sense of humour and her 'star power.' At the same time, the film is not merely a star vehicle: the storyline and supporting cast work well to create a film with some substance. There is lovely cinematography and some stunning views of the desert and Roman ruins (sections of the film were actually shot on location in Tunisia).
One criticism about this film is the quality of the English subtitling. The actual French dialogue is, in a number of cases, much richer and more entertaining than the sparse subtitles would suggest.
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Format: VHS Tape
Although better filmed and better directed than Jospehine Baker's previous feature film, "Zou Zou," this movie has less soulfulness and zest, and is more genuinely offensive, in terms of how it portrays a black woman's role in European society. The premise is simple enough: it's a remake of Shaw's "Pygmalion," this time with a French novelist going abroad to Tunisia and finding a new muse in the guise of the wild, uninhibited Alwina, a shepard girl who sings, dances and shoplifts her way through life. Our Gallic hero takes her under his wing, transports her to Paris and passes her off as African royalty, training her in the finer points of civilized life, such as wearing shoes and not dancing the boogaloo in public, all the while making side comments about her wild native ways. Sure, the film is a product of its time, and some degree of racism is to be expected, but we also have to be honest and admit that it gets in the way of enjoying this film, and helps define its central essence. Also, it just seems more forced and predictable than "Zou Zou," which in addition to a more interesting plot also had better performances from Baker. Worth checking out, to be sure, but a little troublesome nonetheless.
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