Every art has its masterpieces and the Seventh Art is no exception; in this case, great films that have stood the test of time and continue to influence filmmakers today.
Lists of films considered the best include: “The 100 Greatest Films of all Time” (published in 2012 by the British Film Institute); “The 208 films that you have to see” (Les 208 films qu’il faut avoir vus) published in 2008 by the École Nationale Supérieure des Métiers de l’Image et du Son; the Hollywood Reporter’s list of best-loved movies; and Le Monde newspaper’s film ratings.
Champagne makes an appearance in a whole host of timeless classics, often playing a key role as in the following examples (listed by chronological order):
Wings, directed by William A. Wellman: a silent film set in World War I featuring some of the most famous aerial battles ever committed to film. In 1929 it was also the first film (and the only silent film to-date) to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Champagne plays a major role in a long scene that supposedly takes place at the Folies-Bergères.
Almost a century later that scene provided the inspiration for the Canto Bight sequence in Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi. An avowed fan of Wings, Johnson used virtually the same tracking shot as Wellman used to follow the characters as they enter the Folies-Bergères.
Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel), directed by Austrian- born US filmmaker, Josef von Sternberg. The first feature-length German full-talkie, this was the film that propelled Marlène Dietrich to international stardom (in the role of Lola). Champagne flows on a pretty much continuous basis throughout the film.
Freaks, directed by Tod Browning: a cult classic considered one of the greatest successes of the Seventh Art. Set in a circus, the film features untrained actors with physical deformities recruited from what were considered back then as freak shows, among them dwarves, an armless woman, a bearded lady, a man with no arms or legs, and Siamese twins. Champagne features in an astonishing wedding scene where the dwarf Angeleno passes around a cup of Champagne and invites lovely future bride Cleopatra to drink from it. She refuses, revolted at the idea of drinking from the same cup as those she considers “dirty, slimy freaks.” It being an unwritten rule of filmmaking that nobody ever turns down a glass of Champagne and gets away with it, she inevitably meets a horrible end.
Gone with the Wind, directed by Victor Fleming: one of the highest grossing films of all time and a winner of 10 Oscars. In it, pleasure-house owner (Ona Munson) invites her friend (Clark Gable) to share a bottle of Mumm Extra Dry Champagne.
Ninotchka, by Ernst Lubitsch: Greta Garbo’s penultimate film features her in the title role as a communist commissar who arrives in Paris to recover goods belonging to the USSR. Taking her first sip of Champagne, she laughs on screen for the first and only time in her career. “From what I read, I thought Champagne was a strong drink. It’s very delicate,” she says, proffering her glass for a refill.
Casablanca, directed by Michael Curtiz: in one of cinema’s most memorable scenes, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman share glasses of Mumm Cordon Rouge in a bar in Casablanca. Awarded the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1943, the film ranks Number 3 on the American Film Institute’s Best American movies of all time. In Herbert Ross’ 1972 film Play It Again Sam, Woody Allen plays a fanatical movie buff obsessed with Casablanca and Humphrey Bogart’s persona; he apes his hero by trying to woo Diane Keaton’s character with Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne.