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The Josephine Baker Collection (Zou Zou / Princess Tam Tam / Siren of the Tropics)

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • The Josephine Baker Collection (Zou Zou / Princess Tam Tam / Siren of the Tropics)
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  • La Revue Des Revues (1927)
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Total price: $60.42
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Editorial Reviews

Siren Of The Tropics - Available only as a fragment for decades, Siren Of The Tropics is Josephine Baker's feature film debut. Made in 1927, around the time Josephine was making a Paris splash as a Folies Bergere star, Siren establishes the rags to riches, fairy tale template from which her subsequent films would be cut. The film would be cut. The film contains perhaps Josephine's greatest dance work on celluloid, the frenetic "Charleston." And among the crew was a very young Luis Bunuel! Zou Zou - Conceived as a vehicle for Josephine Baker, then among Europe's most popular entertainers, Zou Zou was her debut talking film. In the tradition of 42nd Street, it tells the story of a star who walks out on her sugardaddy producer, only to be replaced by a talented Cinderella (Baker) who saves the show and is hailed as a new sensation overnight. Features Josephine's poignant rendition of "Haiti," sung while clad in feathers and swinging in a birdcage, plus a great co-starring turn by Jean Gabin (Grand Illusion). Princess Tam Tam - Princess Tam Tam is a Pygmalion-like comedy in which Josephine Baker stars as a mischievous shepherd girl who rises through society to become a pretend princess and the toast of Paris nightlife. Includes the famous scene in which Josephine's character is coaxed into drinking too much, whereupon she leaps onto a nightclub stage, strips off her shimmering evening gown, and dances as only La Baker could. Also, Josephine sings "Dream Ship" and "Neath the Tropical Blue Skies."

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: May 15, 2007
  • Run Time: 255 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000OQDX40
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,102 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen H. Wood on June 5, 2007
THE JOSEPHINE BAKER COLLECTION from Kino Video contains the silent film, SIREN OF THE TROPICS (1927, French), with orchestra score; and two legendary sound films, ZOU ZOU (1934, French) and PRINCESS TAM TAM (1935, French). Baker was an exuberant and uninhibited cabaret singer and dancer at Paris' Folies Bergere who sometimes only wore bananas and feathers on stage. These three film classics are a lot of fun.

SIREN OF THE TROPICS has a prospector sending his employee from France to the Caribbean, where the employee falls in love with Papitou (Baker), a free-spirited jungle animal. The duo find themselves back in Paris, where Papitou is the star of the Folies Bergere. She slowly becomes aware that her lover is betrothed to another woman. With exotic color tints, SIREN is sensual and entertaining. It ends with Baker doing the Charleston. This was her film debut. She was already a Folies star.

ZOU ZOU teams Baker with Jean Gabin and marked Baker's talking film debut. It is kind of like 42ND STREET, with Josephine the exuberant ingenue taking the place of an arrogant and undependable lead dancer in a Paris revue. The classic climax has Baker dressed in feathers and singing the unforgettable "Haiti" while on a swing inside a giant bird cage! In none of these three films does Josephine end up with the male lead, instead finding show business success.

PRINCESS TAM TAM is set in North Africa, where an author with writer's block uses Alwina (Josephine Baker) as inspiration for a PYGMALION-like novel. But his wife thinks he really loves Alwina and sets out to make him jealous and Alwina look stupid. The dazzling musical numbers here include "Dream Ship", "'Neath the Tropical Blue Skies," and a champagne-laced nightclub climax dressed in just a negligee.
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Growing up, pretty much all I knew about Josephine Baker was of a vaudeville entertainer, a beautiful black woman, in the 1920's, who wore nothing but bannanas around her waist. I knew she was some kind of erotic dancer in Europe but didn't know much more. Older now, I know that I could not know much more because she was never really accepted as an entertainer here in the States and probably because of the prevalent racism here at the time. And now, well, that was our loss.

She went from rags-to-riches under the most trying of circumstances. From living on the streets in St. Louis, to vaudeville in New York and erotic dancing in Paris, films in the 30's and to working for the French resistance during WWII. These three films represent that period, in Europe, in the 30's just before that World War. Films that were never well-received here in the States. And contain some of the most sensual talented dancing by one of the most influential entertainers of that time. Because of Josephine Baker, many more talented black women were able to follow in her success, and rightfully so.
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Enjoy the beauty and elegance of Josephine Baker in the three volume set of her on film: Zou Zou; Princess Tam Tam and Siren of the Tropics. Her creative power was like that of a highly strung cheetah - unstoppable! For me some of the racism was painful to observe but serves as a historical context for viewing the works of one of the most famous first female African Americans on film. Her life as an entertainer, dancer and social activist* can be seen her through her work and be utilized as a jumping off point to do further research on her wonderful and tragic life. *By this I mean that she paved the way for other black actors, dancers and entertainers and made many things possible that would not have occurred prior to her entrance upon the stage or on film. Recommended reading includes: Naked at the Feast by Lynn Haney c1981;Josephine: The Hungry Heart by Jean-Claude Baker aand Chris Chase c1993; Josephine by Josephine Baker c1977; The Josephine Baker Story by Ean Wood c2000; Jazz Cleopatra: Josephine Baker in her time by Phyllis Rose c1989;and finally Josephine Baker in Art and Life; the icon and the image by Bennetta Jules-Rosette c2007. Adults only. Not appropriate for children to view.

Sybil Blazej-Yee
Author/Artist Librarian & Dog walker
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I am avowed Josephine Baker fan. These 3 films (and included vintage footage from contemporary Paris nightclubs, including some Baker) are the 'Holy Grail.' Seperately acquire "The Josephine Baker Story" (Lynn Whitfield)and you have found heaven on earth.
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