Madam Satan

“Every time I make a picture the critics’ estimate of American public taste goes down ten percent.”
Cecil B. DeMille


Madam Satan

The title is not as scary as it seems. It was a film directed by Cecil B. DeMille in 1930. This means that it was a Pre Code movie. Sex, drinking and comedy were okay back then.


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It is a little romantic comedy. The husband tells the wife that she is boring. They go to a costume ball. She dresses up as Madam Satan and intends on seducing her husband. Hijinks ensue.


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The designs are Art Deco. The costumes and scenery are all elaborate and fun. There are some very fun moments; perhaps the best is when all the people have to jump off of the zeppelin where the party was held in parachutes. One girl, dressed as an angel, floats into a craps game; scaring them into being good (I suppose). One man sails into a zoo and is stuck in a tree in the lion’s cage. And so on.


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What is interesting is the Ballet Mecanique.

One is reminded of Picasso’s set and costumes for Parade or DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover when the husband is obsessed with the radio as a new technology. It is how the people of the time were grappling with or simply celebrating the advances in their lives.

I love how electrical and mechanical the Ballet Mecanique is in this film. Odd and fun, it is somehow hard to resist!


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