Sydney Can-Can Dance at the Moulin Rouge
"Memories of Montmartre" Plot Summary:
In Paris, 1939, a well-dressed man races through a cemetery to Vault A317. Behind a triangular symbol, he hides a jewel-encrusted tiara hidden in his top hat. At a nearby café, the singer smiles as he enters, and he hands a waiter a locket, asking him to tell Mademoiselle Isabelle that the locket contains the key to the heart. While Isabelle sits in her dressing room, the man from the cemetery is stabbed to death.
Sydney receives a steamer trunk from her father, containing the belongings of her grandmother Isabelle who was a Moulin Rouge dancer and singer before her arrest for stealing a locket. Flipping through the diaries in the trunk, Sydney tells Nigel they're going to Paris to find the locket and prove her grandmother's innocence. The relic hunter suspects that a woman named Simone de Guerre, who was in love with Isabelle's lover Philippe, took the locket. Simone's granddaughter Roselyn opens the door to the "music historians" from Trinity, who learn that the old woman once knew an aristocratic secret agent of whom Nigel reminds her. She calls Sydney "Isabelle," then throws her rival's granddaughter out when Sydney asks about the locket.
Nigel - who is desperate for a new apartment, which Claudia promises to find for him while he's away - learns that British agent Philip Ashcroft was sent to recover a tiara known as the Heart of Europe. It belonged to Ivan the Great's widow, the Czarina of Russia, and was destined to be delivered to Churchill, but never arrived in England. Sydney guesses the locket was the key to its hiding place, and asks Nigel to soften up Simone. Indeed, the older woman is delighted by the attentions of the young Brit, and compares him to Philip as she squeezes his thigh. She confesses that she saw a chorus girl named Babette steal the locket from Isabelle, but never told the police because she was jealous of Isabelle. Babette later borrowed money from a gangster and paid him back with everything she had, including her body as well as the locket.
The gangster, Guy Rocher, now runs a dance hall, so Sydney reluctantly poses as a chorus girl seeking an audition, with Nigel playing the role of her cockney manager. "I hate this idea," Sydney grumbles as she dons feathers and tights. While can-can dancers perform, she sneaks into Guy's office and finds the locket - as well as a photo of Philip with a woman who is clearly Simone, though the photo is signed "Babette." When Guy's thugs stop her from fleeing, Sydney admits that she stole the locket, but that it was stolen from her own grandmother. Then she shows off her fancy footwork, kicking the thugs' butts while the can-can dancers keep performing onstage.
Outside, Sydney and Nigel take refuge in a church, where Sydney hides in the confessional naming every man she slept with since her teens. Much later, when the thugs are gone, she asks for a nun's habit to hide from men she doesn't "want to get involved with," which the priest tells her is a good start. Nigel doesn't understand why Simone led them to the locket if she's really Babette, but Sydney decides to trust the old woman once more when she opens the locket and reads the mysterious symbols of a chair, a triangle, and the code "A317." Simone feigns ignorance but Roselyn says there's a famous cemetery in Paris called Lachaise, which means "the chair," where famous people like Jim Morrison are buried.
Roselyn watches Sydney and Nigel leave, then watches thugs follow them from her grandmother's apartment. "You need to be honest," she warns Simone. "You're going to die with lies in your heart." At the cemetery, Sydney finds vault A317, though she fails to notice the teenagers necking behind the wall. She and Nigel locate the Heart of Europe, but Guy and his men are there with weapons. Sydney insists that the tiara belongs to the people of Russia, but Guy sneers that Russian museums are full of French art, then threatens to kill Nigel if she doesn't turn over the jewels. The thugs then tie them up and put them inside a stone sarcophagus. Nigel fears they'll suffocate, but the young lovers sneaking outside hear them and open the tomb.
As they race through the cemetery, Sydney and Nigel bump into Simone, who admits she was "Babette" and confesses she took the locket because she loved Philip, but her heart became as cold and dead as he was. She says Isabelle would be proud of Sydney, and warns that Guy will try to sell the tiara to a dealer named Gerard. Sydney breaks down the door to Guy's dance hall, knocking down thugs as Nigel gets the Russian heirloom.
Back at Trinity, Sydney discovers an old record of her grandmother's and plays her singing while Claudia tells Nigel that she has found him the perfect apartment - that just happens to be an hour and a half commute.
Though it's never explained what Churchill wanted with the Czarina's tiara (I figured the tiara itself would be a clue to some greater political mystery), "Memories of Montmartre" is one of Relic Hunter's tightest episodes, with few flagrant historical distortions and lots of very funny moments in a cemetery vault. Who can complain about getting to see Tia Carrere sing and wear Follies feathers, even if we didn't get to see her in the g-string can-can outfits Nigel so admired on the Moulin Rouge dancers? He did a wonderful turn as a cockney agent pretending to know about the British Top 10, while Sydney was charming trying to kick ass in dance shoes.
The best moments, however, were in the cemetery - first when Sydney insisted that the next time they were tied up in a tomb she was getting on top, then when Nigel complained that his privates had fallen asleep and Sydney shrieked that she wasn't rubbing them to wake them up, and finally when Nigel feebly squeaked to the young lovers that they were looking for Jim Morrison. It's too bad we didn't learn more about why Isabelle fascinated Sydney beyond the unsolved mystery of her arrest and disgrace, because ultimately Simone seemed a more compelling character. And I'd like to know how both women ended up in relative wealth after the war.
Relic Hunter Reviews