The enduring international fanbase for vintage French chanson and pop music should salivate over “Discorama, by Glaser,” about a greatly popular TV program that showcased the best in emerging Gallic song for 15 years. Portraying both the show’s and its late hostess’ influence via generous clips, plus interviews with surviving artists/staff, Esther Hoffenberg’s docu is a jukebox-flashback treasure trove that enthusiasts will want on DVD. A 52-minute version also exists for broadcast.
Though twice the age or more of her primarily youthful guests, Denise Glaser was respected by all as having a unique ear for new talent, often breaking unsigned acts in her weekly slot from 1959 to 1974. She also had a knack for drawing them out in conversation; one highlight here is seeing Serge Gainsbourg squirm under her insistent, earnest questioning. Others include a highly dramatic performance from Jacques Brel, and a raucous one from rocker Nino Ferrer. “Discorama’s” stark design elements furthered its artistic credibility. But after the May ’68 riots, conservative network execs took umbrage at Glaser’s liberal politics. She died poor and depressed a few years after the show’s cancellation. Brisk runtime could easily be longer.