Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Gloria Swanson is all flounce and swagger as Zaza, a street gamine turned music hall star, strutting her stuff, tossing off quips and taunts with her irrepressible backside, which is sometimes adorned with a pert bow for emphasis. Over the course of the film, directed by Allan Dwan (Robin Hood), she engages in two knock-down drag-out cat fights, frisks through playful love scenes, writhes in a hospital bed, nurses a broken heart, and evolves into a soberly dignified woman. Her physicality dominates the film, which does not suffer from being essentially a well-crafted frame for her performance. Swanson s ebullience in Zaza was unfeigned; she called it the fastest, easiest, most enjoyable picture I ever made. Imogen Sara Smith
Special Features: Piano score composed and performed by Jeff Rapsis, adapted from the original 1923 cue sheet | Audio commentary by Frederic Lombardi, author of Allan Dwan and the Rise and Decline of the Hollywood Studios | Booklet essay by film historian Imogen Sara Smith
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
ZAZA is based on a once popular play about a provincial French showgirl who begins an affair with a French diplomat only to discover that he has a wife and child that he never told her about. When he leaves her to return to them, she is devastated and goes to Paris where she becomes a big star. They then meet again many years later. The diplomat is portrayed by H.M. Warner in a rather solemn performance. He became famous later for playing Jesus in the original KING OF KINGS (1927) and as Mr Gower, the druggist, in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. He is also one of the "waxworks" in SUNSET BOULEVARD. Swanson's dipsomaniac aunt is played by character actress Lucille La Verne who would later voice the Wicked Queen in Disney's SNOW WHITE
ZAZA gives Swanson the opportunity to go from one emotional extreme to the other. In the beginning she is all unbridled raw energy as the small town headliner in a local cabaret who bedevils her maid and her co-workers while trying to catch the eye of the diplomat. Once they become involved with each other, she settles into being the perfect partner until her lover goes back to his family. After the scene where she discovers that the diplomat has a wife and child, we get a sadder, more subdued Swanson. The later scene where she meets the child as a young girl is a dramatic highlight. The ending had ladies of the day reaching for their handkerchiefs..
Allan Dwan was one of many Hollywood directors who were derided by a later generation of critics as company men who submerged their personalities to turn out the typical Hollywood product. The most notable director in this category is Michael Curtiz, the man behind CASABLANCA. While I admire the movies of auteurs like Orson Welles, Ken Russell, and Stanley Kubrick. I prefer the work of so called "company men" who could adapt themselves to any genre and who focused on storytelling rather than style. Directors like Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford managed to be both.
This new DVD/Blu-Ray of ZAZA looks great with excellent image quality throughout. There is some wonderful camera work in the early cabaret scenes.The bucolic quality of the cottage scenes is also noteworthy. This print was obviously well cared for as it looks as if it did not require major restoration. The piano score by Jeff Rapsis is well performed and is taken from the original 1923 cue sheet. While not a great movie, ZAZA is worth seeing as a star vehicle for Gloria Swanson and as a typical product of its era. Thanks to Paramount and to Kino for making it available.
At the beginning we're introduced to a street smart Zaza, all rough edges and enormous ebullience, star of a music hall revue. When Zaza connects with her love interest (H.B. Warner) it's a wild flirtiness ala sauvage Désir. Following the denouement when the inevitable cold wife (Florence Fair) and darling child entrez s'il vous plaît, Zaza's filled with desperate, thwarted amour éternel.
Lucille La Verne plays Aunt Rosa, a charming lush at her wits end with what to do about Zaza. Mary Thurman is Florianne, Zaza's rival turned bosom best friend during a course of cat fights worth breaking out the popcorn for. Yvonne Hughes is Nathalie, the quiet, sweet mistreated maid devoted to her mistress Zaza. There's an old Duke too, played by Ferdinand Gottschalk who pursues Zaza with admirable elderly vigor. And Roger Lytton is the impresario bent on selling Zaza at greatest profit to his audience.
Directed by Alan Dwan, produced by Adolph Zuker, photographed by Hal Rosson with care to details and scenery. The end result is an arty, funny, moving, supremely unstuffy film.
A must for Swanson fans. And for those not yet, this film might make you one.
Trivia note : H.B. Warner appears as one of the waxworks bridge players in Sunset Boulevard starring Swanson as Norma Desmond.