No relation to the same-named 1934 Maurice Chevalier musical nor the 1954 Toulouse Lautrec biopic, the French Moulin Rouge began life as a showcase for the dazzling talents of African American entertainer Josephine Baker. Alas, Baker's provocative dance routines-not to mention the hints of miscegenation in the storyline-resulted in a complete story overhaul when Moulin Rouge was released stateside in 1944, nine years after its original French release under the title Princess Tam Tam. Originally, the story concerned the efforts by a famous author (Albert Prejean) to pass off an African peasant girl (Baker) as an Indian princess. The heavily censored and extensively reshot version concentrates on the misadventures of an aspiring nightclub singer (Rene Dary), who lands a job as a caretaker for the proprietor of the famed Moulin Rouge nightclub. Thus it is that Josephine Baker's starring role has been whittled down to a few specialty numbers, while Albert Prejean has been eliminated from the story entirely!
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