Unquestionably one of the finest films to visit Boston in many moons, Josephine Baker's "Princesse Tam-Tam" had its American premiere at the Fine Arts yesterday afternoon. Miss Baker, who returns to her native land in celluloid. left St. Louis in the early Twenties to become and to remain the cabaret sensation of Europe. Like most of her ilk, she cannot sing, but she can dance, twisting her dusky body into unbelievable contortions in time to primitive rhythm. Though it smacks more of Harlem than of Africa, locale of the picture, her "La Conga" dance alone is enough to put the picture over.
But actually Miss Baker has been very much subordinated by the cynical theme of the film. Though never oppressive, the picture paints a striking contrast between the wholesome stupidity and naive sensuality of Africa and the futile artifice of Europe with its snobbishness, adultery, and puerile attempts to understand eternal secrets. The skillful direction of Edmond Greville and a finished performance by the veteran Albert Prejean put this across. M. Benoit, at the cameras, deserves great credit, as much for shots of delicate irony as for scencs of beauty and simplicity. English subtitles make this rare film available to everyone.