Friday, October 2, 2009

Under the Roofs of Paris (Rene Clair) ***

Director: Rene Clair

Cast: Albert Prejean, Pola Illery, Edmond T. Greville, Bill Bocket, Gaston Modot

Background: Rene Clair had been directing movies since 1924 and this was his 6th film. and his first talkie. He preferred silents, but was forced to switch to sound for financial reasons.

Story: Albert (Prejean) is a street singer who falls in love with Lola (Illery), but their relationship is threatened when Albert is set up for a crime and gets arrested.

Thoughts: For the most part, this is a charming movie with romantic moments set against a nice musical backdrop. The problem is the lack of character development. The two leads are fine and have terrific chemistry, but supporting characters become important in the third act and the film does not properly develop them for us to swallow the ending it wants to sell us. The movie does have a strong mix of sound and visuals for an early talkie and a charming theme song sets the perfect mood . Clair is certainly a talented technical filmmaker, but there are too many holes in the plot for it to be completely successful. Still, it's paced well and has a light, breezy atmosphere that makes it a fun time.

Postscript: Clair continued directing movies through the 60s, including 1931's Liberty For Us and 1945's Agatha Christie adaptation And Then There Were None.

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