Film Series: The Belle Époque on Film

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition By Day & by Night: Paris in the Belle Époque, the Norton Simon Museum presents a series of films that travel back in time and bring this exciting era to life.


Free with Museum admission.
No reservations taken. Doors open at 5:00 p.m.

French Cancan (1955), NR
Le Plaisir (1952), NR
Casque d'Or (1952), NR
Gigi (1958), G
French Cancan (1955), NR

French Cancan (1955), NR

Directed by Jean Renoir
Fri, November 1, 5:30–7:15 p.m.

Nineteenth-century Paris is vibrantly presented in Jean Renoir’s exhilarating tale of the opening of the world-renowned Moulin Rouge. Jean Gabin plays the wily impresario Danglard, who makes the cancan all the rage while juggling the love of two women—an Egyptian belly dancer and a naive working girl turned cancan star. This celebration of life, art and the City of Light (with a cameo by Édith Piaf) is a Technicolor tour de force by a master of modern cinema. In French, with English subtitles.

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Le Plaisir (1952)

Le Plaisir (1952), NR

Directed by Max Ophüls
Fri, November 8, 5:30–7:10 p.m.

Roving with his dazzlingly mobile camera around the decadent ballrooms, bucolic countryside retreats, urban bordellos and painter's studios of late 19th-century French life, Max Ophüls brings his astonishing visual dexterity and storytelling bravura to this triptych of tales by Guy de Maupassant about the limits of spiritual and physical pleasure. Featuring a stunning cast of French stars (including Danielle Darrieux, Jean Gabin and Simone Simon), Le Plaisir pinpoints the cruel ironies and happy compromises of life with a charming and sophisticated breeziness.

In French, with English subtitles.

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Casque d’Or (1952)

Casque d’Or (1952), NR

Directed by Jacques Becker
Fri, November 15, 5:30–7:00 p.m.

Jacques Becker lovingly evokes the belle époque Parisian demimonde in this classic tale of doomed romance. When gangster moll Marie (Simone Signoret) falls for reformed criminal Manda (Serge Reggiani), their passion incites an underworld rivalry that leads inexorably to treachery and tragedy. With poignant, nuanced performances and sensuous black-and-white photography, Casque d’Or is Becker at the height of his cinematic powers—a romantic masterpiece.

In French, with English subtitles.

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Gigi (1958)

Gigi (1958), G

Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Fri, November 22, 5:30–7:30 p.m.

Gaston (Louis Jourdan) is a restless Parisian playboy who moves from one mistress to another, while also spending time with Gigi (Leslie Caron), a precocious younger friend learning the ways of high society. The platonic relationship between Gaston and Gigi changes, however, when she matures, but the possibility of something lasting seems unlikely, since he won’t commit to one woman. Gigi refuses to be anyone’s mistress, however, and Gaston must choose between her and his carefree lifestyle.

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