Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tropical Affairs: Indochine - Christmas Party Scene

Robert Raymer at center on the set of Indochine

Catherine Deneuve rehearsing her dance with Linh Dan Pham

The Christmas party scene was to be filmed atop Penang Hill in the old Crag Hotel, which, incidentally, was once run by the Sarkies brothers, the renowned Armenian hoteliers who also founded the Eastern and Oriental Hotel in Penang and the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. After being transported to the set, I was led away by Patrick, who chopped off most of my hair. Lolita slicked back what was left with a combination of gel and mousse into a style that was fashionable back then. Alberto dressed me in my 30’s style tuxedo, with suspenders, cuff-links, and bow ties that actually had to be tied.

The scene itself begins with the arrival of the guests (although in reality this segment was shot on the fourth day). Deneuve, the other stars, and the invited guests, sat around three tables (the stars at one table and the rest divided between the other two), while the waiters waited in the wings with traditional Yule Log cakes that they would be serving us as soon as the cameras rolled.

As the cameraman, the lighting and sound technicians made endless adjustments to their equipment, the other assistants and helpers scurried about wherever they were needed. The make-up people would buzz around us like flies touching up our hair, powdering our faces, spraying water on the wilting flowers on our lapels.

While our Yule log cakes were finally being served (they had been coming and going for days) Elaine Devries' father, Emile, (portrayed by Henri Marteau), arrived with his concubine. With dramatic flair he unveiled a phonograph, his Christmas present to Elaine. A record was played and the music cranked up. Elaine then escorted her adopted daughter, Camille (Linh Dan Pham) to the small dance floor where they proceeded to dance the tango.

This was our cue. All eight of us tango dancers rose from our chairs one by one, led our ‘spouses’ to the dance floor, turning and dipping with fancy head movements.

-excerpted from “Four Days with Catherine Deneuve” from Tropical Affairs: Episodes from an Expat’s Life in Malaysia.

*Here's a l link to a tango clip from Indochine and some other films I've been involved with.

**Looks like I have another French connection.  Lovers and Strangers Revisited, my collection of short stories set in Malaysia, has been translated into French by Éditions GOPE!

*Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited, my collection of short stories set in Malaysia

**Update: Book orders for Trois autres Malaisie  E-book orders.  Or recommend it to your friends, especially those who would like to know more about Malaysia or have an interest in Southeast Asia.
Here's a link to the intro and excerpts, and to four reviews of Trois Autres Malaisie in,,, and Petit Futé mag.

***Here’s an update to the French blog about Trois autres Malaisie and my meeting the French translator Jerome Bouchaud in Kuching, and my involvement in a French documentary for Arte (June 2017) on The Sensual Malaysia of Somerset Maugham.

***Here's the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

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