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$22.95 list($29.99)
1. Italian Straw Hat
$29.99 $12.95
2. Le Million
$19.95
3. Under the Roofs of Paris
$19.95
4. A Nous La Liberte
$29.99 $9.77
5. A Nous La Liberte
$14.99 $4.99
6. Le Million
$14.99 $9.59
7. Under the Roofs of Paris
$5.73 list($14.99)
8. A Nous La Liberte
$49.95 $46.44
9. Clair in the 30's (Le Million/

1. Italian Straw Hat
Director: René Clair
list price: $29.99
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Asin: 6303593488
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 52946
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars A classic silent farce
"The Italian Straw Hat" (France, 1927)
Director Rene Clair apparently pioneered the "screwball comedy" genre with this feature-length silent, in which a nervous groom unwittingly finds himself in the middle of a romantic triangle, when his horse stops for a snack and eats the hat of a married woman off having a fling with a belligerent army officer... The officer badgers our hero into finding a replacement, which is all very well and fine... except that today is his wedding day, and the guests are all waiting for him to say "I do!" The first half of the film is a little hard to follow, but once it picks up steam, this film is a delight. My enjoyment of the movie was hampered somewhat by the horridly inappropriate soundtrack to the 1991 Connoiseur/Film Preserve edition, which was composed by Emilio Kauderer, and which was so awful and distracting that I had to watch the film with the sound off. Still, it turned out to be a fun movie. By the way, the best role in the film is clearly that of he groom's aggrieved, harried valet, who sees all the chaos unfold at every every turn -- watch for him! ... Read more


2. Le Million
Director: René Clair
list price: $29.99
our price: $29.99
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Asin: 6302914051
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 88328
Average Customer Review: 4.86 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars The love of money is the root of all evil
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

This movie, one of the very first sound films made in France remains a comic classic today and the Biblical message of the film is often overlooked. In the film, a man who is in debt has the winning lottery ticket for 1,000,000 francs. Unfortunately the jacket he left the ticket in goes missing and he goes to great lengths to reacquire the jacket. Later word gets out about it and others are trying to take the jacket also. There is a man brandishing a gun who takes the jacket by force also. This film shows that money has the power to corrupt people greatly.

"For the love of money is the root of all evil" 1 Timothy 6:10

The DVD has improved subtitles and also has a production photo gallery and an interview with director René Clair.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest film treasures from sound's early days
Years ago as a graduate student, I was ecstatic to see a faded, fuzzy, and torn copy of LE MILLION at one of the campus film societies. Nevertheless, I was immediately enchanted. Luckily, those who today want to see this masterpiece have this magnificently restored version by Criterion. No one who loves classic cinema will fail to be enchanted by this magical story about the hunt for a lost, winning lottery ticket.

In 1931, the year this film was made, European cinema was just beginning to catch up with the technical achievements made in the United States in the late 1920s. The period from 1929 to the early 1930s was an extraordinary time, as the art struggled with perfecting the new ability to record soundtracks. For a brief period of time, the world of cinema was awash with a world of possibilities, and in Hollywood Ernst Lubitsch made perhaps the first lasting musical films in a string of productions (THE LOVE PARADE, MONTE CARLO, and THE SMILING LIEUTENANT by 1931, and later ONE HOUR WITH YOU and THE MERRY WIDOW) that borrowed heavily from the operetta, a form that tragically-based on the extraordinary success achieved by Lubitsch and later Clair and Mamoulian-failed to survive for long.

LE MILLION was essentially an attempt to do in France what Ernst Lubitsch was doing so successfully in Hollywood. The transition was an easy one, especially given that Lubitsch, the European expatriate, was setting all of his films in Europe. Rene Clair, however, added many touches of his own. The humor he employs in the film is laced with a degree of slapstick that simply wasn't Lubitsch's style. This film is a romp through Paris, and romping wasn't Lubitsch's mode of travel. LE MILLION is working class, while Lubitsch focused primarily on the antics of the aristocracy, or with workers having to deal with the aristocracy. Also, while Clair of necessity worked primarily in the studio (the limitations of sound technology required it), he employs some exterior shots that were very unusual for the time.

There is a magic and a delight in LE MILLION that simply cannot be captured in words. There is something sui generis about a truly great film, especially one that is great in only the way that a film can be great, in the use of camera to tell a story, to tell a joke, to invoke a sense of delight. Except for those unfortunate film viewers for whom no good film was ever made in black and white, for whom no good film can be subtitled, and for whom an "old" film means made before 1970, this is one of those filmed that will be loved and cherished by anyone who loves movies.

4-0 out of 5 stars Prepare to be charmed by this french masterpiece
This film begins with the ending celebration, so we know that despite all the problems, all will be well. It is a light and frothy film that has nothing really to say. It is fantastic that it has been revived on video for a new generation of film viewers, who perhaps have been blasted too much by violence.

Take the trip to a forgotten Paris and a wonderful fairy tale.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nice lighthearted musical comedy
Criterion did a nice job with this 1931 musical comedy. The quality is very good considering its age. It is an important film historically, but also it's just good, clean, amusing fun. And we know it has a happy ending because everyone is celebrating in the beginning. :o)

5-0 out of 5 stars DON'T LET ITS AGE DISCOURAGE YOU, YOU'LL HAVE A BLAST!
When people think of black & white foreign films from the 20's, they inevitably imagine snoozers that are outrageously incomprehensible and bizarre. Though they're often right, this movie is here to prove them wrong.

"Le Million" is one of a handful of musical comedies that I'd watch over and over. The plotline is simple: retrieve a lottery ticket from a jacket that was given away to a stranger. Sounds easy, right? Not if director Rene Clair has his way! He adds plot twists, mistaken identities, disloyal friends, goldigging sexpots, and some pretty funny slapstick. Get ready for the most entertaining 90 minutes you've spent in a long time. It's interesting to see how many of the actors still relied on silent film methods of acting (lots of facial expressions and body language), even though this is a full-fledged "talkie". And Annabella provides wonderful visual and aural beauty.

The songs are corny beyond belief but, fortunately, they're few so it's bearable. The corniness doesn't make them bad, just hopelessly out of date. They do help the story along nicely though, and the new lyric translation helps a lot. Despite being fluent in French, I had trouble understanding some of the lyrics, probably due to early recording limitations which occasionally cause muffled sound during loud passages. But this is minor and only occurs during the songs. Criterion did a wonderful job with the restoration as a whole. The print is clear and bright, with only very small segments showing any wear. The dialog is easy to understand and is crisp.

I did have some problems with the subtitles, however. There are a few sentences in which they are wildly inaccurate. And a few of the spoken "curse" words have been translated into much more vulgar English than necessary. If there are kids in the room, note that this results in an essentially PG-rated film.

A DVD that's well worth the small investment. You'll own a piece of classic movie history, and it's tremendously fun to watch. ... Read more


3. Under the Roofs of Paris
Director: René Clair
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
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Asin: 078002303X
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 55258
Average Customer Review: 4.43 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

René Clair's Under the Roofs of Paris is a delightfulpastiche of vignettes loosely held together by a creaky plot involving theft,romance, and mistaken identity. Albert loves Pola, who is being romanced by aseedy thief. Albert ends up in jail instead of the thief and Pola falls forAlbert's best friend, Louis. This film was Clair's first talkie and the firstFrench musical. However, this isn't a musical in the Hollywood sense of theterm. The characters do not break out in song every 10 minutes. Instead, wesee action silently unfold to the pastoral orchestral music score. The filmalso features several imaginative tracking shots and an interesting glimpseinto the post-World War I optimism that briefly reigned over WesternEurope until the rise of National Socialism. --Kristian St. Clair ... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the masterpieces of early sound French cinema
It is amazing how quickly some directors mastered sound film almost immediately. Both Ernst Lubitsch in Hollywood and Rene Clair in France adapted to the sound film apparently without effort, and produced some of the earliest masterpieces in their respected countries. Their strategies, however, differed slightly. While Lubitsch employed microphones from beginning to end, Clair, much like Hitchcock in Great Britain with his earliest sound features, blended silent and sound techniques. In UNDER THE ROOFS OF PARIS, Clair has essentially produced a silent film with numerous talking sequences, usually relatively static scenes with conversation and singing. The reason for this was primarily the incapacity of the earliest microphones to accommodate much music. Clair is so masterful in his use of the camera, however, that he makes a virtue out of necessity, and one can only notice the silent nature of much of the film if one looks for it.

Anyone familiar with the work of Andrew Sarris knows that Clair, like Lubitsch and Hitchcock, is placed in his "Pantheon' of the greatest auteurs in the history of film, and one can easily believe it watching this remarkable film. While many early sound directors saw sound as a gimmick, Clair saw it as an opportunity to expand the capacity of film to tell a story.

The story is not like anything that would have been told in Hollywood. The story is boy meets girl, boy kinda gets girl, boy loses girl, and the girl stays lost. A note of danger and sadness underscores the entire movie, despite the sharp humor and song. Albert, a young man who makes his living by selling sheet music in the street, falls deeply in love with Pola, whom he rescues from a petty gangster. While in jail, his best friend befriends Pola, and she falls in love with him. The contrast between Albert, who loves with great constancy, and Pola, who throws her affection from the gangster to Albert to his friend Louis with little or not transition, could not be greater. In the end, while one regrets for Albert's sake that he does not end up with the girl he loves, one cannot help but think that he can do better. Interestingly, Albert is played by Albert Préjean and Pola, who is supposed to be Romanian, is played by Pola Illéry, who was indeed Romanian.

I can't stress enough how enjoyable this film is. Seventy-four years later, the viewer doesn't have to cut this film the tiniest bit of slack to love it. It isn't an artifact, but a vibrant, adorable excursion into the Parisian underworld of 1930. It was not merely one of the first great French sound films made, but one of the great musicals of all time.

4-0 out of 5 stars A charming, romantic film from the 1930s
Albert is a street singer, selling songs on a Parisian street, when he notices Pola, shyly singing along with the crowd. Later, at a bar/dance hall with his friend Louis, Albert again sees Pola sitting by herslef. He and Louis roll the dice to see who gets to talk to her, but even though Albert wins, he stops short when he sees Pola with her gangster boyfriend, Fred. Through a series of events, both planned and unplanned, Albert tries to woo Pola, but winds up in jail and then gets involved in a street fight with Fred's gang.

This is a charming film from René Clair. It was filmed just as movies with sound were beginning to appear so it has a unique style in that there is very little dialogue. Most of the action is acted like a silent movie with music to enhance the action. But, in a unique twist for its time, the characters do speak and sing, but only when necessary. It's a mix between the two genres: silent and talkies. A great little film.

The DVD is a clean, crisp transfer with some camera shaking, problably from the original direction. It also includes the original opening to the film, which Clair editied out in 1950, and his first silent film "Paris qui dort (Paris Asleep)" which makes for a very ineteresting early sci-fi film.

3-0 out of 5 stars ALBERT AND LOUIS AND FRED AND POLA
Rene Clair's 1930 SOUS LES TOITS DE PARIS, a mostly-mimed musical, is about about two pals -- Albert and Louis -- who make a wager in the rain "under a Paris roof" (hence the title) to see who will go with pretty Pola. But alas she goes off with Fred! A series of complications way too complex to detail here ensue as the four characters mix and match until one is left alone singing in the rain on a Paris street.

This film, made silent and then dubbed with French dialog and music, is done with grace and charm in spite its melodramatic plot. Albert's calm detachment seems to insulate him from all danger and sorrow, while Fred seems to get away with numerous nefarious deeds. I liked this film and its dreamlike images and poetic story.

5-0 out of 5 stars An amazing French classic... beautiful filmmaking!
A heartbreaking, beautiful portrait of urban life in the City of Love. This was director Rene Clair's first sound film, built around the concept of following a street musician through his daily life. Clair uses the occasion to play with the concept of sound recording: many dramatic scenes are played out silently, while an entire apartment building softly hums the catchy tune sung by chanteur Albert Prejean; in the film's climactic scene, a record on the stereo begins to skip as rival suitors quarrel over the Roumanian belle, Pola Illery. The sound design is as playful as it is inventive, and Clair's command of image and editing is superb. Fans of French "musette" music owe it to themselves to check out this film, which skillfully depicts the nightlife inside one of a Parisian bal mussette dancehall, populared as it was by seedy ruffians and disheartened lovers. A wonderful film; highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful early sound film, lovingly restored
Rene Clair's first sound film contains innovative cinematic devices that have since become commonplace (but which still retain most of their poetry in this context). A useful tonic for anyone who believes that sound was the death of true cinema, _Under the Roofs of Paris_ shows that even in the clunky early days of sound technology, there were directors who could use it with the freedom and expressiveness found in the best silent films.

Criterion has performed a loving restoration of this French classic, and included a few very nice extras (including an informative television interview and Clair's early short "Paris qui dort"). It's a classic. ... Read more


4. A Nous La Liberte
Director: René Clair
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
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Asin: B00005AABJ
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 28194
Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars
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Description

The inspiration for Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, Rene Clair's comic masterpiece was a landmark in the early days of sound production.In A Nous La Liberte Claire employs plenty of clever dialog tricks, comic sound effects, and songs to tell this satirical story of two friends who go from down and out prisoners to wealthy businessmen.When Louis successfully escapes from prison he winds up making a fortune in the phonograph business.Later his friend Emil is released and finds himself employed in Louis' factory.The amazing Bauhaus sets from legendary art director Lazare Meerson add to the satire by paralleling the design of the prison with that of the factory and assembly lines.

... Read more

Reviews (5)

1-0 out of 5 stars Mutilation of a Classic
Just a response to another reviewer; yes, this is Clair's 1950 recut of the film. But the recut is ill-advised, and is generally considered by most historians as a prime example of someone far removed from the circumstances of the film's actual production butchering their own work.

Is this the 1931 classic, intact, as Clair originally intended?

No, it is a recut, which most critics feel strongly is a disgrace.

Do NOT buy this DVD; get the uncut version on VHS while you still can. Once again, Criterion should have restored the original version, rather than presenting this cut version; anything less violates entirely the spirit of the original film.

5-0 out of 5 stars ...
... The film is fully intact as Clair intended, and the deleted scenes are available for us to see. The circumstances of these cuts by Clair are fully explained on the DVD's deleted scene menu pages (Clair cut the scenes between the original release and the 1950 reissue), so it is totally inaccurate to say that the film has been "mutilated" since it was the director who made the cuts. The reviewer from Lincoln needs to pay a little more attention to history and stop writing such misleading gibberish.

1-0 out of 5 stars Beware- Mutilation of a Classic
This is an abridged version of Clair's 1931 masterpiece, with two key sequences cut, and added to the DVD as "extras" in beat up 16mm prints, when original nitrate material is readily available. The two sequences in question are the singing flowers who serenade Emile outside the factory; and Emile's quest for romance in a Parisian cafe. All in all, this is about 10 minutes of material! It is impossible to overstate the effect that the elimination of these two scenes has on the film as a whole; it destroys, in large part, much of the magic of the film.

On the plus side, the subtitles are vastly superior to any other version available, and the transfer of the feature (minus the cuts) is superb....but with the cuts, you're really not getting the film. Criterion made a serious error with this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Unquestionable Classic
Perhaps the most elegantly rendered feature film of the very early days of sound production (barring, perhaps, Chaplin's CITY LIGHTS), Clair's classic is such a seemingly effortless blend of romantic melancholy, bitter social criticism and gentle surrealism, that its many aesthetic qualities tend to overshadow the film's astounding technological innovations in the poetics of sound.
The fact that Criterion has thrown Clair's short film ENTR'ACTE onto the disc is reason enough to buy the dvd. The transfers of both the feature and the short are of superlative quality. It's an invaluable release.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Nous La Liberte
A brilliant, elegant and sparkling French comedy. It resembles Chaplin's Modern Times, but is in many ways even funnier in depicting the similarity between factory and prison. ... Read more


5. A Nous La Liberte
Director: René Clair
list price: $29.99
our price: $29.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6302914043
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 67340
Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

1-0 out of 5 stars Mutilation of a Classic
Just a response to another reviewer; yes, this is Clair's 1950 recut of the film. But the recut is ill-advised, and is generally considered by most historians as a prime example of someone far removed from the circumstances of the film's actual production butchering their own work.

Is this the 1931 classic, intact, as Clair originally intended?

No, it is a recut, which most critics feel strongly is a disgrace.

Do NOT buy this DVD; get the uncut version on VHS while you still can. Once again, Criterion should have restored the original version, rather than presenting this cut version; anything less violates entirely the spirit of the original film.

5-0 out of 5 stars ...
... The film is fully intact as Clair intended, and the deleted scenes are available for us to see. The circumstances of these cuts by Clair are fully explained on the DVD's deleted scene menu pages (Clair cut the scenes between the original release and the 1950 reissue), so it is totally inaccurate to say that the film has been "mutilated" since it was the director who made the cuts. The reviewer from Lincoln needs to pay a little more attention to history and stop writing such misleading gibberish.

1-0 out of 5 stars Beware- Mutilation of a Classic
This is an abridged version of Clair's 1931 masterpiece, with two key sequences cut, and added to the DVD as "extras" in beat up 16mm prints, when original nitrate material is readily available. The two sequences in question are the singing flowers who serenade Emile outside the factory; and Emile's quest for romance in a Parisian cafe. All in all, this is about 10 minutes of material! It is impossible to overstate the effect that the elimination of these two scenes has on the film as a whole; it destroys, in large part, much of the magic of the film.

On the plus side, the subtitles are vastly superior to any other version available, and the transfer of the feature (minus the cuts) is superb....but with the cuts, you're really not getting the film. Criterion made a serious error with this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Unquestionable Classic
Perhaps the most elegantly rendered feature film of the very early days of sound production (barring, perhaps, Chaplin's CITY LIGHTS), Clair's classic is such a seemingly effortless blend of romantic melancholy, bitter social criticism and gentle surrealism, that its many aesthetic qualities tend to overshadow the film's astounding technological innovations in the poetics of sound.
The fact that Criterion has thrown Clair's short film ENTR'ACTE onto the disc is reason enough to buy the dvd. The transfers of both the feature and the short are of superlative quality. It's an invaluable release.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Nous La Liberte
A brilliant, elegant and sparkling French comedy. It resembles Chaplin's Modern Times, but is in many ways even funnier in depicting the similarity between factory and prison. ... Read more


6. Le Million
Director: René Clair
list price: $14.99
our price: $14.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6303184111
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 53333
Average Customer Review: 4.86 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars The love of money is the root of all evil
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

This movie, one of the very first sound films made in France remains a comic classic today and the Biblical message of the film is often overlooked. In the film, a man who is in debt has the winning lottery ticket for 1,000,000 francs. Unfortunately the jacket he left the ticket in goes missing and he goes to great lengths to reacquire the jacket. Later word gets out about it and others are trying to take the jacket also. There is a man brandishing a gun who takes the jacket by force also. This film shows that money has the power to corrupt people greatly.

"For the love of money is the root of all evil" 1 Timothy 6:10

The DVD has improved subtitles and also has a production photo gallery and an interview with director René Clair.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest film treasures from sound's early days
Years ago as a graduate student, I was ecstatic to see a faded, fuzzy, and torn copy of LE MILLION at one of the campus film societies. Nevertheless, I was immediately enchanted. Luckily, those who today want to see this masterpiece have this magnificently restored version by Criterion. No one who loves classic cinema will fail to be enchanted by this magical story about the hunt for a lost, winning lottery ticket.

In 1931, the year this film was made, European cinema was just beginning to catch up with the technical achievements made in the United States in the late 1920s. The period from 1929 to the early 1930s was an extraordinary time, as the art struggled with perfecting the new ability to record soundtracks. For a brief period of time, the world of cinema was awash with a world of possibilities, and in Hollywood Ernst Lubitsch made perhaps the first lasting musical films in a string of productions (THE LOVE PARADE, MONTE CARLO, and THE SMILING LIEUTENANT by 1931, and later ONE HOUR WITH YOU and THE MERRY WIDOW) that borrowed heavily from the operetta, a form that tragically-based on the extraordinary success achieved by Lubitsch and later Clair and Mamoulian-failed to survive for long.

LE MILLION was essentially an attempt to do in France what Ernst Lubitsch was doing so successfully in Hollywood. The transition was an easy one, especially given that Lubitsch, the European expatriate, was setting all of his films in Europe. Rene Clair, however, added many touches of his own. The humor he employs in the film is laced with a degree of slapstick that simply wasn't Lubitsch's style. This film is a romp through Paris, and romping wasn't Lubitsch's mode of travel. LE MILLION is working class, while Lubitsch focused primarily on the antics of the aristocracy, or with workers having to deal with the aristocracy. Also, while Clair of necessity worked primarily in the studio (the limitations of sound technology required it), he employs some exterior shots that were very unusual for the time.

There is a magic and a delight in LE MILLION that simply cannot be captured in words. There is something sui generis about a truly great film, especially one that is great in only the way that a film can be great, in the use of camera to tell a story, to tell a joke, to invoke a sense of delight. Except for those unfortunate film viewers for whom no good film was ever made in black and white, for whom no good film can be subtitled, and for whom an "old" film means made before 1970, this is one of those filmed that will be loved and cherished by anyone who loves movies.

4-0 out of 5 stars Prepare to be charmed by this french masterpiece
This film begins with the ending celebration, so we know that despite all the problems, all will be well. It is a light and frothy film that has nothing really to say. It is fantastic that it has been revived on video for a new generation of film viewers, who perhaps have been blasted too much by violence.

Take the trip to a forgotten Paris and a wonderful fairy tale.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nice lighthearted musical comedy
Criterion did a nice job with this 1931 musical comedy. The quality is very good considering its age. It is an important film historically, but also it's just good, clean, amusing fun. And we know it has a happy ending because everyone is celebrating in the beginning. :o)

5-0 out of 5 stars DON'T LET ITS AGE DISCOURAGE YOU, YOU'LL HAVE A BLAST!
When people think of black & white foreign films from the 20's, they inevitably imagine snoozers that are outrageously incomprehensible and bizarre. Though they're often right, this movie is here to prove them wrong.

"Le Million" is one of a handful of musical comedies that I'd watch over and over. The plotline is simple: retrieve a lottery ticket from a jacket that was given away to a stranger. Sounds easy, right? Not if director Rene Clair has his way! He adds plot twists, mistaken identities, disloyal friends, goldigging sexpots, and some pretty funny slapstick. Get ready for the most entertaining 90 minutes you've spent in a long time. It's interesting to see how many of the actors still relied on silent film methods of acting (lots of facial expressions and body language), even though this is a full-fledged "talkie". And Annabella provides wonderful visual and aural beauty.

The songs are corny beyond belief but, fortunately, they're few so it's bearable. The corniness doesn't make them bad, just hopelessly out of date. They do help the story along nicely though, and the new lyric translation helps a lot. Despite being fluent in French, I had trouble understanding some of the lyrics, probably due to early recording limitations which occasionally cause muffled sound during loud passages. But this is minor and only occurs during the songs. Criterion did a wonderful job with the restoration as a whole. The print is clear and bright, with only very small segments showing any wear. The dialog is easy to understand and is crisp.

I did have some problems with the subtitles, however. There are a few sentences in which they are wildly inaccurate. And a few of the spoken "curse" words have been translated into much more vulgar English than necessary. If there are kids in the room, note that this results in an essentially PG-rated film.

A DVD that's well worth the small investment. You'll own a piece of classic movie history, and it's tremendously fun to watch. ... Read more


7. Under the Roofs of Paris
Director: René Clair
list price: $14.99
our price: $14.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6303184170
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 34463
Average Customer Review: 4.43 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the masterpieces of early sound French cinema
It is amazing how quickly some directors mastered sound film almost immediately. Both Ernst Lubitsch in Hollywood and Rene Clair in France adapted to the sound film apparently without effort, and produced some of the earliest masterpieces in their respected countries. Their strategies, however, differed slightly. While Lubitsch employed microphones from beginning to end, Clair, much like Hitchcock in Great Britain with his earliest sound features, blended silent and sound techniques. In UNDER THE ROOFS OF PARIS, Clair has essentially produced a silent film with numerous talking sequences, usually relatively static scenes with conversation and singing. The reason for this was primarily the incapacity of the earliest microphones to accommodate much music. Clair is so masterful in his use of the camera, however, that he makes a virtue out of necessity, and one can only notice the silent nature of much of the film if one looks for it.

Anyone familiar with the work of Andrew Sarris knows that Clair, like Lubitsch and Hitchcock, is placed in his "Pantheon' of the greatest auteurs in the history of film, and one can easily believe it watching this remarkable film. While many early sound directors saw sound as a gimmick, Clair saw it as an opportunity to expand the capacity of film to tell a story.

The story is not like anything that would have been told in Hollywood. The story is boy meets girl, boy kinda gets girl, boy loses girl, and the girl stays lost. A note of danger and sadness underscores the entire movie, despite the sharp humor and song. Albert, a young man who makes his living by selling sheet music in the street, falls deeply in love with Pola, whom he rescues from a petty gangster. While in jail, his best friend befriends Pola, and she falls in love with him. The contrast between Albert, who loves with great constancy, and Pola, who throws her affection from the gangster to Albert to his friend Louis with little or not transition, could not be greater. In the end, while one regrets for Albert's sake that he does not end up with the girl he loves, one cannot help but think that he can do better. Interestingly, Albert is played by Albert Préjean and Pola, who is supposed to be Romanian, is played by Pola Illéry, who was indeed Romanian.

I can't stress enough how enjoyable this film is. Seventy-four years later, the viewer doesn't have to cut this film the tiniest bit of slack to love it. It isn't an artifact, but a vibrant, adorable excursion into the Parisian underworld of 1930. It was not merely one of the first great French sound films made, but one of the great musicals of all time.

4-0 out of 5 stars A charming, romantic film from the 1930s
Albert is a street singer, selling songs on a Parisian street, when he notices Pola, shyly singing along with the crowd. Later, at a bar/dance hall with his friend Louis, Albert again sees Pola sitting by herslef. He and Louis roll the dice to see who gets to talk to her, but even though Albert wins, he stops short when he sees Pola with her gangster boyfriend, Fred. Through a series of events, both planned and unplanned, Albert tries to woo Pola, but winds up in jail and then gets involved in a street fight with Fred's gang.

This is a charming film from René Clair. It was filmed just as movies with sound were beginning to appear so it has a unique style in that there is very little dialogue. Most of the action is acted like a silent movie with music to enhance the action. But, in a unique twist for its time, the characters do speak and sing, but only when necessary. It's a mix between the two genres: silent and talkies. A great little film.

The DVD is a clean, crisp transfer with some camera shaking, problably from the original direction. It also includes the original opening to the film, which Clair editied out in 1950, and his first silent film "Paris qui dort (Paris Asleep)" which makes for a very ineteresting early sci-fi film.

3-0 out of 5 stars ALBERT AND LOUIS AND FRED AND POLA
Rene Clair's 1930 SOUS LES TOITS DE PARIS, a mostly-mimed musical, is about about two pals -- Albert and Louis -- who make a wager in the rain "under a Paris roof" (hence the title) to see who will go with pretty Pola. But alas she goes off with Fred! A series of complications way too complex to detail here ensue as the four characters mix and match until one is left alone singing in the rain on a Paris street.

This film, made silent and then dubbed with French dialog and music, is done with grace and charm in spite its melodramatic plot. Albert's calm detachment seems to insulate him from all danger and sorrow, while Fred seems to get away with numerous nefarious deeds. I liked this film and its dreamlike images and poetic story.

5-0 out of 5 stars An amazing French classic... beautiful filmmaking!
A heartbreaking, beautiful portrait of urban life in the City of Love. This was director Rene Clair's first sound film, built around the concept of following a street musician through his daily life. Clair uses the occasion to play with the concept of sound recording: many dramatic scenes are played out silently, while an entire apartment building softly hums the catchy tune sung by chanteur Albert Prejean; in the film's climactic scene, a record on the stereo begins to skip as rival suitors quarrel over the Roumanian belle, Pola Illery. The sound design is as playful as it is inventive, and Clair's command of image and editing is superb. Fans of French "musette" music owe it to themselves to check out this film, which skillfully depicts the nightlife inside one of a Parisian bal mussette dancehall, populared as it was by seedy ruffians and disheartened lovers. A wonderful film; highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful early sound film, lovingly restored
Rene Clair's first sound film contains innovative cinematic devices that have since become commonplace (but which still retain most of their poetry in this context). A useful tonic for anyone who believes that sound was the death of true cinema, _Under the Roofs of Paris_ shows that even in the clunky early days of sound technology, there were directors who could use it with the freedom and expressiveness found in the best silent films.

Criterion has performed a loving restoration of this French classic, and included a few very nice extras (including an informative television interview and Clair's early short "Paris qui dort"). It's a classic. ... Read more


8. A Nous La Liberte
Director: René Clair
list price: $14.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6303184049
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 75874
Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

1-0 out of 5 stars Mutilation of a Classic
Just a response to another reviewer; yes, this is Clair's 1950 recut of the film. But the recut is ill-advised, and is generally considered by most historians as a prime example of someone far removed from the circumstances of the film's actual production butchering their own work.

Is this the 1931 classic, intact, as Clair originally intended?

No, it is a recut, which most critics feel strongly is a disgrace.

Do NOT buy this DVD; get the uncut version on VHS while you still can. Once again, Criterion should have restored the original version, rather than presenting this cut version; anything less violates entirely the spirit of the original film.

5-0 out of 5 stars ...
... The film is fully intact as Clair intended, and the deleted scenes are available for us to see. The circumstances of these cuts by Clair are fully explained on the DVD's deleted scene menu pages (Clair cut the scenes between the original release and the 1950 reissue), so it is totally inaccurate to say that the film has been "mutilated" since it was the director who made the cuts. The reviewer from Lincoln needs to pay a little more attention to history and stop writing such misleading gibberish.

1-0 out of 5 stars Beware- Mutilation of a Classic
This is an abridged version of Clair's 1931 masterpiece, with two key sequences cut, and added to the DVD as "extras" in beat up 16mm prints, when original nitrate material is readily available. The two sequences in question are the singing flowers who serenade Emile outside the factory; and Emile's quest for romance in a Parisian cafe. All in all, this is about 10 minutes of material! It is impossible to overstate the effect that the elimination of these two scenes has on the film as a whole; it destroys, in large part, much of the magic of the film.

On the plus side, the subtitles are vastly superior to any other version available, and the transfer of the feature (minus the cuts) is superb....but with the cuts, you're really not getting the film. Criterion made a serious error with this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Unquestionable Classic
Perhaps the most elegantly rendered feature film of the very early days of sound production (barring, perhaps, Chaplin's CITY LIGHTS), Clair's classic is such a seemingly effortless blend of romantic melancholy, bitter social criticism and gentle surrealism, that its many aesthetic qualities tend to overshadow the film's astounding technological innovations in the poetics of sound.
The fact that Criterion has thrown Clair's short film ENTR'ACTE onto the disc is reason enough to buy the dvd. The transfers of both the feature and the short are of superlative quality. It's an invaluable release.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Nous La Liberte
A brilliant, elegant and sparkling French comedy. It resembles Chaplin's Modern Times, but is in many ways even funnier in depicting the similarity between factory and prison. ... Read more


9. Clair in the 30's (Le Million/ Under The Roofs of Paris)
Director: René Clair
list price: $49.95
our price: $49.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B00004REMW
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 96235
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Description

Under the Roofs of Paris
The first French musical, Under the Roofs of Paris displays an inventive use of sound to capture Parisian street life in the late 1920's.

Le Million
Considered one of the very first musicals, Le Million inspired the Marx Brother's classic Night at the Opera.
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