Musical (1929)

Musique: Cole Porter
Paroles: Cole Porter
Livret: Herbert Fields
Production à la création:

Fifty Million Frenchmen est un musical avec un livret d'Herbert Fields et une musique et des paroles de Cole Porter. Il a ouvert ses portes à Broadway en 1929 et a été un grand succès. Il a été adapté pour un film deux ans plus tard.
Le titre fait référence à la chanson à succès de 1927 Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong de Willie Raskin, Billy Rose et Fred Fisher, qui comparait les attitudes libres dans le Paris des années ‘20 à la censure et à la prohibition régnant aux États- Unis .. L'intrigue de la comédie musicale est cohérente avec les intrigues standard garçon-rencontre-fille des musicals de la première moitié du XXe siècle.

Peter Forbes, un jeune millionnaire américain à Paris, parie avec son ami Billy Baxter qu’il peut survivre un mois sans sa ligne de crédit tout en tentant de gagner la main de Looloo Carroll, une jeune fille qu’il aime. Il devient guide touristique, gigolo et magicien — endurant d’innombrables humiliations — avant de gagner le pari et les faveurs de la jeune fille.
Les autres personnages incluent l’ami de Peter, Michael, et l’amie de Looloo, Joyce, qui font équipe pour quelques numéros. Une grande partie de la comédie est fournie par Violet Hildegarde, une touriste de New York qui cherche à être choquée, et May DeVere, une artiste de cabaret à la recherche d’un homme assez primitif pour satisfaire ses besoins.

The year is 1929, the month is June: the season when thousands of Americans invade Paris—and all the Parisians leave town.

Among the first arrivals are Mr. and Mrs. Emmit Carroll, a pair of vulgar social climbers from Terre Haute, Indiana. On holiday with their daughter, Looloo, and her school chum, Joyce Wheeler, the Carrolls waste no time storming the Ritz Bar, the place where, according to Mrs. Carroll, everybody meets everybody else. Alas, the Carrolls arrive a full hour before cocktail time, and the bar is empty—except for three thirsty college boys on vacation.

One of them, Peter Forbes, has been dragging his buddies, Michael Cummins and Billy Baxter, to every tourist trap in Paris in search of a beautiful girl he spotted on the boat coming over. Peter glances across the bar; and behold!—it's the girl from the boat: Looloo Carroll. Before Peter has a chance to make his move, however, his pal Billy suggests a little wager: He bets Peter fifty thousand francs that he can't live in Paris without his line of credit and, at the same time, win Looloo’s hand in marriage. At the end of one month—that would be July 4th—he must throw a party at the Chateau Madrid and announce his engagement.

Peter, confident that his charm matters more to a girl like Looloo than his family fortune, accepts the bet. He then rushes to Looloo, introduces himself, and proposes marriage. Much to her surprise, Looloo agrees to take his offer seriously. Within a few days, Peter has found work as a tour guide but unfortunately, his schedule allows no time to call on Looloo. Michael, meanwhile, has taken a shine to Joyce and insists on following her all over town. Stopping at the American Express Company, he finds his friend Peter much in demand: first, by a discerning American lady named Violet Hildegarde, who's come abroad hoping to be shocked; then by an aspiring cabaret artist, May DeVere, whose mind is definitely not on her work.

Nearly a week passes before Peter catches up with Looloo, who, in his absence, has taken up with Billy. Forced by the conditions of the bet to keep his job a secret, he explains to Looloo that he has been busy taking people to places of interest. Looloo suggests some activities that appeal to her: the new revue at the Casino de Paris—or perhaps tea at the Crillon; or a drive through the Bois in an open barouche. But Peter, reaching into his empty pockets, realises that he can only afford to meet Looloo on the corner later, a suggestion that sends her off in a huff. Seething, she allows Billy to flirt with her while Peter returns to work.

At a bookstall along the Left Bank, Violet is hunting for a copy of a novel that's been banned in the States: Ulysses. Billy appears and turns on the charm, but his plea for companionship falls on deaf ears. He moves on, and Violet is left to reflect on the loose morals of the modern world.

The following Sunday, everybody is off to the races. An American horse, Yankee Doodle, seems unbeatable, but Louis Pernasse, manager of the Hotel Claridge, informs Peter that the final race has been fixed: Horse number six, Toujours Moi, will win.

May enters and spots Pernasse; knowing that he sometimes moonlights as maitre d' at the Chateau Madrid, she decides to audition her act for him. Pernasse offers her a job, then takes her money, along with Peter's remaining fifty francs, to place a bet on Toujours Moi. Looloo has also chosen Toujours Moi to win the next race. When she bumps into Peter, and realises that he has only fifty francs to his name, she gives him an additional two thousand to bet and assures him that he can pay her back at a later date.

Peter wonders how Looloo can be so generous, and she confesses the reason. As Peter heads for the betting booth, Joyce appears with a dilemma. Michael has proposed to her and told her that if she doesn't accept he'll commit suicide. Should she let him? Or marry him, and kill herself? Looloo insists that it's Joyce's decision, but expresses confidence that her friend will do the right thing. At the starting gate, Toujours Moi is unveiled and revealed to be a scrawny old nag. As the race begins, Billy takes great pleasure in announcing how poorly Toujours Moi is running: a bad third, then a bad fourth, 6 then—suddenly all the other horses turn and run in the wrong direction. Toujours Moi gains the lead. As the horses head for the home stretch,Toujours Moi and Yankee Doodle are neck and neck, and as they approach the finish mark, the winner is—Yankee Doodle. Peter, more depressed than ever, tears up the tickets— but wait! Yankee Doodle is disqualified for running in front of Toujours Moi. Peter has a winning ticket—torn into bits. Looloo rushes in to celebrate their victory, but when Peter reveals his blunder, she refuses to believe him. It's true what her friends have said—he's merely after her money: He was planning on keeping the winnings for himself.

Looloo rushes off, leaving Peter alone and inconsolable (You Don't Know Paree). One week later, Pernasse and his staff are preparing a lavish reception for Mrs. Carroll (Somebody's Going to Throw a Big Party/It Isn't Done), who is scheming to improve her social status by marrying Looloo to an impoverished Grand Duke (The Queen of Terre Haute). When Mr. Carroll learns the cost of the festivities, he stumbles off to the nearest bar. Looloo, meanwhile, is as troubled as her father.Try as she may, she can't stop thinking about Peter—and certainly has no desire to wed a Russian aristocrat. She corners Joyce and suggests an alternative (Let's Step Out). Later that evening, Mrs. Carroll bemoans the botched reception: Her husband arrived an hour late, drunk, and Looloo didn't bother to show up at all. Now she'll never get into proper society. Violet, amused by the evening's events, recalls another social climber she once knew (The Tale of the Oyster).

The Fourth of July arrives, and Peter; now working as a dancing man at the Chateau Madrid, is busily preparing a party there that will be the culmination of his month-long travails.The evening begins with May's triumphant debut. Then Billy and Michael arrive, still trailing after Violet and Joyce; this time, however; the ladies acquiesce. Finally, Looloo appears, and Peter, with only a few minutes till midnight proposes once again. Looloo struggles for an answer—until Pernasse appears and insists that Peter dance with one of the customers.With Peter's menial occupation revealed, Looloo steps away, hurt and embarrassed. Peter turns on Pernasse, but the Frenchman is primed for a fight: He is still smarting over the race tickets that Peter tore up. Looloo overhears and realises that Peter was indeed telling her the truth that day about tearing up the tickets. She can trust him after all.

As the clock strikes midnight, Looloo and Peter celebrate their engagement—and Peter collects fifty thousand francs.

Fifty Million Frenchmen de Cole Porter a été qualifiée de «Musical Comedy Tour of Paris», et le tract pour le Try-Out de Washington tentait de séduire le public avec la promesse d’un «tour de luxe». Oui, pour le prix d’un «siège réservé», un spectateur pourrait «se promener dans les bois dans une barouche ouverte (calèche), visiter des champs de bataille, boire des cocktails au champagne au bar du célèbre Ritz, manger de la pâtisserie française chez Rumpelmeyer ou faire des galipettes au Moulin Rouge». Cet itinéraire imaginatif et provocateur comprenait également «La Tombe de Napoléon, la Madeleine, les cartes postales osées du Café de la Paix, les douairiers dansant avec les gigolos, les Citroën de Montmartre, les cocottes françaises, le Harry’s American Bar, la Place Vendôme, le Château Madrid et enfin le cher American Express». Ainsi, pour le prix d’un billet de théâtre (la place la plus chère pour la production de Broadway vendue pour 5,50$), le spectateur pouvait faire tout ce voyage accompagné par la musique de Cole Porter qui contenait de sublimes sérénades ( You Do Something to Me ) ou des demandes impertinentes ( Where Would You Get Your Coat?). Cole Porter avait été un peu joué à Broadway, mais c’est le spectacle qui l’a mis en pleine lumière. Il s’est joué pour 254 performances, a offert un trésor de chansons mémorables, et a finalement été filmé deux fois.

Fifty Million Frenchmen a été créé à Broadway au Lyric Theatre le 27 novembre 1929 et a fermé le 5 juillet 1930 après 254 représentations. L’ouverture a eu lieu un mois après le krach boursier de 1929. Mis en scène par Monty Woolley avec des chorégraphies de Larry Ceballos , une scénographie de Norman Bel Geddes , la distribution met en vedette William Gaxton dans le rôle de Peter Forbes, Geneviève Tobin dans le rôle de Loolooloo Carroll, Betty Compton dans celui de Joyce Wheeler et Lester Crawford dans celui de Billy Baxter.

Acte I
“A Toast to Volstead” (The California Collegians, Male Ensemble)
“You Do Something to Me” (William Gaxton, Genevieve Tobin)
“The American Express” (Ensemble)
“You’ve Got That Thing” (Jack Thompson, Betty Compton)
“Find Me a Primitive Man” (Evelyn Hoey, Billy Reed, Lou Duthers, Ensemble)
“Where Would You Get Your Coat?” (Helen Broderick)
“Do You Want to See Paris?” (William Gaxton, The California Collegians, Tourists)
“At Longchamps Today” (Ensemble)
“Yankee Doodle” (Ensemble)
“The Happy Heaven of Harlem” (Billy Reed, Lou Duthers, Chorus)
“Why Shouldn’t I Have You?” (Betty Compton, Jack Thompson, Chorus)
Finale (Genevieve Tobin, William Gaxton)

Acte II
“Somebody’s Going to Throw a Big Party” (Ensemble)
“It Isn’t Done” (Ensemble)
“I’m in Love” (Genevieve Tobin, Franklyn Graham, Ceballos’ Hollywood Dancers)
“The Tale of the Oyster” (Helen Broderick)
Specialty (William Gaxton, The California Collegians)
“Paree, What Did You Do to Me?” (Betty Compton, Jack Thompson)
“You Don’t Know Paree” (William Gaxton)
“I’m Unlucky at Gambling” (Evelyn Hoey, Ceballos’ Hollywood Dancers)

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Fifty Million Frenchmen

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Fifty Million Frenchmen

Fifty Million Frenchmen est le premier de sept musicals de Cole Porter à avoir le livret écrit ou co-écrit par Herbert Fields . Ce fut aussi le premier musical mis en scène par Monty Woolley..

Version 1

Fifty Million Frenchmen (1929-11-Lyric Theatre-Broadway)

Type de série: Original
Théâtre: Lyric Theatre (Broadway - Etats-Unis)
Durée : 7 mois 1 semaine
Nombre : 254 représentations
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première: 27 November 1929
Dernière: 05 July 1930
Mise en scène : Edgar M. Woolley
Chorégraphie :
Producteur :
Star(s) :
Avec: William Gaxton (Peter Forbes), Genevieve Tobin (Looloo Carroll), Helen Broderick (Violet Hildegarde), Evelyn Hoey (May DeVere), Betty Compton (Joyce Wheeler), Jack Thompson (Michael Cummins), Lester Crawford (Billy Baxter), Dorothy Day (Marcelle Fouchard), Ignatio Martinetti (Louis), Thurston Hall (Emmitt Carroll), Bernice Mershon (Gladys Carroll), Fifi Laimbeer (Sylvia), Gertrude Mudge (Mrs. DeVere), Robert Leonard (Mr. Ira Rosen), Annette Hoffman (Mrs. Rosen), Larry Jason (Junior), Billy Reed (Boule DeNeige), Lou Duthers (Oscar), Mario Villani (M. Pernasse), Jean Del Val (Le Sahib Roussin, Joe Zelli), Mannart Kippen (The Grand Duke Ivan), and Oscar Magis (Maitre d'Hotel)
Presse : Stephen Citron, in his book Noel & Cole, wrote that the musical received mixed reviews, citing critics Brooks Atkinson and Richard Watts who both deemed it "pleasant", saying there was not an "outstanding hit song in the show." Gilbert Gabriel, on the other hand, said it was "the best thing in seven years!" Porter champion Irving Berlin took out an advertisement stating in part: "The best musical comedy I have seen in years..." The show then had what was, for the time, a long run.

According to Charles Schwartz, writing in the biography Cole Porter, the musical's book by Herbert Fields "had a lot to do with capturing the frothy Gallic essence implicit in the title..." and he also noted the "near-perfect cast" and "sure-handed direction" of Monty Wooley.

Version 2

Fifty Million Frenchmen (1931-02-Film)

Type de série: Original
Théâtre: *** Film (*** - ***)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : 14 February 1931
Première: 14 February 1931
Dernière: Inconnu
Mise en scène : Lloyd Bacon
Chorégraphie :
Producteur :
Star(s) :
Avec: Ole Olsen (Simon Johanssen), Chic Johnson (Peter Swanson), William Gaxton (Jack Forbes), Helen Broderick (Violet), John Halliday (Michael Cummins), Claudia Dell (Lu Lu Carroll), Lester Crawford (Billy Baxter), Evalyn Knapp (Miss Wheeler-Smith), Charles Judels (Pernasse – Hotel Manager), Carmelita Geraghty (Marcelle Dubrey), Nat Carr and Vera Gordon (Jewish tourists)
Commentaires : Le film devait initialement sortir aux États-Unis à la fin de 1930, mais, en cette période de terribe crise économique, a été abandonné en raison de l'apathie du public envers les musicals.
Malgré une attente de plusieurs mois, le public s'est montré obstiné et les Warner Bros. ont sorti le film à contrecœur en février 1931 après avoir supprimé toute la musique. En dehors des Etats-Unis, le film est sorti complet, avec toutes les chansons en 1931.
Seule une copie en noir et blanc de la version américaine découpée publiée en 1931 aux États-Unis semble avoir survécu. Le film complet est sorti intact dans des pays autres que les États-Unis où aucune réaction contre les comédies musicales ne s'est jamais produite. On ne sait pas si une copie de cette version complète existe encore.

 Pas encore de video disponible pour ce spectacle