Black Tights

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Black Tights

Drama, Musical | 140 mins | Released: 1961
Director: Terence Young
Starring: Cyd Charisse, Moira Shearer, Zizi Jeanmarie, Roland Petit, Maurice Chevalier, George Reich, Josette Clavier
Our Rating: 7
Black & White

Black Tights is a dancing mash-up of four outstanding dance performances coreographed by Roland Petit – Carmen (1949), La croqueuse de diamants (1950), Deuil en 24 heures (1953), and Cyrano de Bergerac (1959).

The Cast includes:
Zizi Jeanmaire as The Gold Digger / Carmen
Cyd Charisse as The Widow
Roland Petit as Cyrano / The Suitor / Don José
Moira Shearer as Roxane
Maurice Chevalier as Narrator (voice)
Dirk Sanders as Pierrot
George Reich as Christian
Josette Clavier as The Woman Bandit
Bertie Eckhrat as The Bartender
Hans von Manen as The Husband / A Bad guy / A Bandit
Henning Kronstam as The Bullfighter

See Danny Kaye in another iconic Musical on MovieZoot, “The Inspector General”

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Movie Notes:

Black Tights (1-2-3-4 ou Les Collants noirs) is a 1961 French anthology film featuring four ballet segments shot in Technirama and directed by Terence Young.

The film is also known as Un deux trois quatre! in France (short title).

wilson-pote from Canada on 11 June 2007 reviews the film saying, “This terrific dance film deserves to be judged in its historical context, where it shone in set design, choreography, cinematography, musical vivacity and not least in superb dancing.

I recall that at the time, Rene Jeanmaire’s portrayal of Carmen was considered shockingly sexy for classical dance.

The film is still a treasure, especially as another gorgeous record of the brilliance of Shearer and Charisse, and remains a fully developed treat for the senses of anyone who enjoys dance at its best.

Highly recommended viewing for fans of all ages, not least to very young people dreaming of becoming dancers. The work in this film exemplifies a level of dance artistry that was revered in its day and by now has become legendary.

Yes, we would certainly stage things differently in the 21st century, yet this film is REAL Roland Petit –le vrai de vrai–, whose influence has been huge.

Viewing it again as a senior, I find many of the sets remarkable, especially the Dali-esquire richness of the Carmen story. I hope to view it anew on TCM and to smile and applaud all over again!”

HallmarkMovieBuff in 11 June 2007 says in his review, “All in all, I found the performances, the choreography, the staging, and the technical elements surrounding them quite intriguing and enjoyable. Two of the technical elements, in particular, bear mentioning.

The color photography is luscious, but not what one typically thinks of when the movie is shot in Technicolor. Although the colors themselves are brilliant and distinct, there are no shades of gray in evidence. Grays come out black, detracting from some of the more darkly-lit pieces, and making the overall appearance one of high contrast. Additionally, some of the skin tones tend more toward “white” than toward “flesh-colored,” aggravated no doubt by the contrast between dark and light.

Secondly, a feature that I consider a giant plus is that this movie of set ballet pieces was filmed before the arrival of the short attention span of the MTV Generation, when popular music videos corrupted the video style of even live performances, including many found on PBS. Here, although different camera angles are employed to good effect, they don’t switch every five seconds making the viewer dizzy and disoriented. In short, one can actually watch and enjoy this performance instead of having one’s concentration constantly distracted by helter-skelter random shots of the action.

In summary, this film of four ballets provides a fascinating “Roland Petit retrospective” nearly a half-century later.”

Anita de Acosta Keith from Columbus, Ohio USA reviewed Black Tights on 11 June 2007 and says, “Lovely movie that I had heard about. Was crushed last year when Moira Shearer passed away. This movie includes Moira, Cyd and Zizi. Zizi I had heard about, but never seen. All were a delight. To me, Moira and Cyd seemed a little past their prime, since I was so spoiled by having seen their earlier dance films “The Red Shoes” and “Brigadoon”, plus Cyd in “The Harvey Girls”. But, alas, we all get older. I was finally able to see Zizi for the first time, and it was very nice. I have studied ballet, and feel that Roland Petit is well respected. Chevalier was good to see in this movie. The town square/vegetable market scene reminded me of “My Fair Lady”. Just musings and reflections on my part. Perhaps the print and color were rather fuzzy, but they can be reminiscent of water color paintings.”