Princess Tam-Tam (1935)

Princess Tam-Tamprincesse-tam-tam poster
Edmond T. Gréville
Productions Arys

First viewing


“. . . I improvised, crazed by the music. . . . Even my teeth and eyes burned with fever. Each time I leaped I seemed to touch the sky and when I regained earth it seemed to be mine alone.” — Josephine Baker

I enjoyed Josephine Baker’s performance in this otherwise lackluster movie.

Max is a celebrated novelist suffering from writer’s block who is being nagged at ceaselessly by his wife.  He and his partner decide to escape to Tunisia for inspiration and respite.  There they meet the beggar Alwina (Josephine Baker).  They take the “wild” free-spirited woman into their villa where they begin to “civilize” her.  Meanwhile, Max’s wife has begun a flirtation with a maharaja in Paris.  Max introduces to Alwina to Parisian society as Princess Tam-Tam to make his wife jealous.  But Alwina can’t resist the urge to dance whenever drums begin to beat …

Princess Tam-Tam 1

Josephine Baker sings two songs beautifully and has a couple of dance numbers.  The last of these is as part of a relatively clunky Busby Berkeley-esque routine.  These musical interludes are the main reasons to watch.  The actors never catch fire and the story is pretty silly.

Clip – “Ahé!  la Conga”


2 thoughts on “Princess Tam-Tam (1935)

  1. This is not a very good film but the magnificent Josephine Baker makes it all worthwhile. She was absolutely beautiful and found her niche in Paris where she was a big star. She did not want to settle for the roles offered to African-Americans in the United States and her Revue Negre was the rage of Paris. She found a home in France and went on to win the Croix de Guerre for her work for France during WWII. I hate it that she is not well-known today since she was quite a presence.

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