November 2022 / MOULIN ROUGE

The Film Foundation Restoration Screening Room Resource Guide for

MOULIN ROUGE (dir. John Huston, 1953)

Presented in The Film Foundation Restoration Screening Room in November 2022 in partnership with MGM, Studiocanal, and Park Circus.

Table of Contents

1) Film Description 

2) Special Features

-James Gray and Kent Jones in Conversation

-Interview with Danny DeVincent

-Interview with Jake Perlin

-John Huston by Lillian Ross

-Before/After Restoration Demo

3) EXPLORE Page Materials

-Video Extras

-Reading List (Books)

-Reading List (Online)

-John Huston's Favorite Films and Directors

- The FIlm Foundation on Letterboxd

4) Live Screening Commentary Script

Based on the novel by Pierre La Mure, MOULIN ROUGE is a fictional account of the life of famed artist Henri de Toulouse–Lautrec, played brilliantly by José Ferrer. The son of a wealthy, aristocratic family, Henri moves to Montmartre, the center of Parisian bohemian life. However, due to a childhood injury, Henri’s legs are badly deformed and his personal life is often unhappy as a result. One day, he meets a young woman, Marie, and soon falls in love with her, but finds it increasingly difficult to balance his personal life, his artistic pursuits, and his family pressures. Director John Huston was fascinated by the artist’s life and worked closely on the script with Ferrer, and co-writer Anthony Veiller, to create an outstanding period piece, with stunning costumes and cinematography that recreated the look of Toulouse–Lautrec’s paintings. The film received seven Oscar nominations, winning for art direction and costume design.

MOULIN ROUGE was restored using the 35mm original nitrate 3–strip Technicolor negative. 4K scanning, color grading, and digital image restoration were completed by Cineric, Inc., in New York, and the audio restoration was done by Chace Audio in Burbank. Special thanks to Grover Crisp for his consultation on this restoration.

Restored by The Film Foundation in collaboration with Park Circus, Romulus Films and MGM with additional funding provided by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, a unique partnership between the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique (SACEM), and the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW).

James Gray and Kent Jones in Conversation

Interview with Danny DeVincent

Interview with Jake Perlin

John Huston by Lillian Ross

                                                                                                                    * Thank you to Susan Morrison

Before/After Restoration Demo



Video Extras

A conversation with John Huston (1979) on the Canadian TV program City Lights. 

John Huston on the Dick Cavett Show on February 21st, 1972 (Part 1) (Part 2).

John Huston Accepts the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1983 via AFI's YouTube. 

What's My Line with Jose Ferrer from December 7, 1958 via What's My Line's YouTube. 


Zsa Zsa Gabor in MOULIN ROUGE

Reading List (Books)

John Huston by Lillian Ross, from The New Yorker, 1929-1996, The Film Desk, 2014

Picture, Lillian Ross, NYRB Classics, 2019

The Maltese Falcon: John Huston, director, Rutgers University Press, 1995

Walter Crisham in MOULIN ROUGE

Reading List (Online)

"Cinema Revival 2020: Toulouse-Lautrec in John Huston's Moulin Rouge" via WexArts.

"John Huston, Freudian" via The Criterion Collection

Timeline of Historical Film Colors examines Moulin Rouge (1953)


Jośe Ferrer in MOULIN ROUGE

John Huston's Favorite Films and Directors

(featured in John Huston: Interviews [Conversations With Filmmakers Series])



BREAKER MORANT (Beresford, 1980)

GALLIPOLI (Weir, 1981)




MIDNIGHT COWBOY (Schlesinger, 1969)

TAXI DRIVER (Scorsese, 1976)

THE WAGES OF FEAR (Clouzot, 1953)


The FIlm Foundation on Letterboxd

-Shot by Oswald Morris

-Directed by John Huston

-Starring Zsa Zsa Gabor

MOULIN ROUGE - Live Screening Commentary Script


Welcome to The Film Foundation Restoration Screening Room! Tonight we’re screening MOULIN ROUGE (1952, d. John Huston).

You can stay with us here in the chat to learn more about the film as you watch or you can view the film full screen on-demand at 7pm.   

In this chat mode the screening is live and picture controls (rewind/fast forward/pause) will not be available. If you miss anything or need to take a break, that functionality is available when watching on-demand.  

Thanks for being here and we hope you enjoy our live commentary. We also encourage you to share your thoughts on the film as we go, making this a communal virtual viewing experience! 

Stay tuned after the screening for a conversation about the film with filmmaker James Gray and Kent Jones—now available on this page.


00:00:00 - 00:10:00

In 1951, actor Jose Ferrer bought the stage rights to Pierre La Mure’s book “Moulin Rouge,” a biography of artist Toulouse-Lautrec. Around that same time, Romulus Films co-owner James Woolf gave John Huston a copy of the La Mure book and Huston became interested in making a film. Huston then negotiated with Ferrer and they started to raise the money to make the movie.

One of John Huston’s first orders of business was to create the look of the film, which he wanted to resemble a Toulouse-Lautrec painting. He hired “Life” magazine photographer Eliot Elisofon, and along with Technicolor consultants and director of photography Oswald Morris, they started to experiment with new Technicolor techniques.

Learn more about the shooting process of the film in our interview with director James Gray, available on this page.


 00:10:00 - 00:20:00

MOULIN ROUGE marked one of Hungarian-American socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor’s first major film roles—she plays Jane Avril. Visit the Film Foundation Letterboxd page, linked to below, for more on Zsa Zsa’s eclectic film career:


And do check out one of Zsa Zsa’s infamous appearances on David Letterman, linked to below:


00:20:00 - 00:30: 00

Jose Ferrer plays Toulouse-Lautrec, whose height has been said to have been somewhere from 4’6'' to 4’11”. According to a studio press release, Ferrer was strapped into fake legs with his own legs bound behind him in order to achieve something close to the correct height. Ferrer claimed that the harness was incredibly painful and that he couldn’t wear it for more than 30 minutes. 

Ferrer also plays Toulouse-Lautrec’s father in the film, in our interview with director James Gray he discusses what he thought of Ferrer’s double-role, as well as how they changed his height for the film. The interview is available on this page.


00:30:00 - 00:40:00

In a 1971 issue of “Focus on Film,”  cinematographer Oswald Morris discussed how he used different colored lights for each of the main characters, with Jose Ferrer being shot with a blue-green filter, Colette Marchand in purple and Suzanne Flon in a pink fill light.

To learn more about the films that Morris shot, visit our Letterboxd list, linked to below:


00:40:00 - 00:50:00

Colette Marchand plays Marie Charlet in her first screen role. She was primarily known for her work as a French prima ballerina and even though her film career was very short, she received an Academy Award nomination for her work in MOULIN ROUGE. 

00:50:00 - 01:00:00

MOULIN ROUGE received 10 Academy Award nominations, including one for John Huston as director and Ferrer as lead actor, but only won awards for Best Art Direction and Costume Design, both on a color film. Marcel Vertes, known primarily for his work as a costume designer, received both awards (alongside Paul Sheriff for Art Direction). His work is always on display in New York City in the form of the original murals in the Café Carlyle in the Carlyle Hotel and at one time in the original Peacock Alley in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. 


01:00:00 - 01:10:00

When talking about John Huston’s career, programmer & publisher Jake Perlin said:

As you look at the filmography, it's just really singular. He seems to be willing to do anything."

Be sure to watch our interview with Huston expert Perlin, available on this page, and learn more about Huston’s filmography on The Film Foundation’s Letterboxd Page, linked to below:


01:10:00 - 01:20:00

New Yorker writer Lillian Ross had a special relationship with Huston and wrote about him often. We are so pleased to have an excerpt from The Film Desk publication “John Huston by Lillian Ross” available on this page.  The book is currently out of print, so don’t miss this!


01:20:00 - 01:30:00

In 1972, on The Dick Cavett Show, John Huston revealed that he had only seen two of the films he had acted in, THE CARDINAL (1963) and then, not surprisingly, they changed the topic before he could reveal the other. He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work on THE CARDINAL. 

Later in the same interview he talks about creating the character of Toulouse-Lautrec in MOULIN ROUGE and what he would have changed if he could make the film again. The interview is linked to below:


01:40:00 - 01:50:00

James Gray on the old techniques of making movies and how MOULIN ROUGE factors into that: 

“They had incredible craft. The depth of it. You can just see it, the technical majesty of MOULIN ROUGE is pretty extensive.”

Our entire interview with Gray is available on this page.


 01:50:00 - The End

Thank you so much for joining us!

MOULIN ROUGE was restored in collaboration with Park Circus, Romulus Films and MGM with additional funding provided by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, a unique partnership between the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique (SACEM), and the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW).

We look forward to seeing you next month on Monday, December 12th for Wesley Ruggle’s I’M NO ANGEL (1933), starring Mae West and Cary Grant.