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Two by Rene Clair tonight


slaytonf
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It would be difficult to find a director who had a more varied and wide-ranging career than Rene Clair. Journalist, editor, author, actor, and of course, film auteur. The last, because he, along with contemporaries like Chaplin, oversaw all the aspects of his films, the subjects of which also ran a large gamut, from surrealist shorts in the 20s through fantasy, romantic comedy, tragic drama, to mystery and suspense. His best known film is perhaps And Then There Were None, an adaptation of Agatha Christie's famous story of attrition among guests at a bleak island house. But his best, in my opinion, were the musical romantic comedies he made in the early thirties, two of which will be shown tonight. They are clever, charming, delightful soufflés of absolutely no consequence. Yet at the end of them, you still feel something worthwhile has been portrayed about the human condition and society.

 

In Á Nous La Liberté, two convicts attempt an escape from prison. One fails, but the other gets out, poses as a cyclist in a race, starts selling phonographs, and, through hard work and the American Way--I mean the French Way--becomes a major phonograph manufacturer. But he has not completely cut his ties with his past, as evidenced by the reappearance of his old buddy. Complications ensue. There is lots of wonderful visual comedy, especially in the comparisons of prison life and the production line.

 

Le Million is about a lottery ticket, two friends who fall out over it, one of them an unfaithful ami of a cute-as-a-button grisette, the other his rival for her affections. The plot--well, don't worry about the plot, it's just an excuse for betrayals, reproofs, reconciliation, songs, chases, frippery and fun. Try and figure out how he did the opening sequence.

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