In René Clair’s irrepressibly romantic portrait of the crowded tenements of Paris, a street singer and a gangster vie for the love of a beautiful young woman. This witty exploration of love and human foibles, told primarily through song, captures the flamboyant atmosphere of the city with sophisticated visuals and groundbreaking use of the new technology of movie sound. An international sensation upon its release, Under the Roofs of Paris is an exhilarating celebration of filmmaking and one of France’s most beloved cinematic exports. —The Criterion Collection
Born under the name of René Chomette in 1898, René Clair René Clair started life as a journalist and then turned to the cinema in 1920. At first an actor and assistant director, he started making films with Paris qui dort and Entr’acte (1924), a pearl of the surrealist cinema.
Commercial success and critical acclaim came with the brilliant farce comedy, An Italian Straw Hat (1927) followed by his famous early musical talkies, Le Million (1931) and A nous la liberté (1932). He continued his career in Hollywood during the war and came back to France to make the films of his mature years, Le Silence est d’or (1947) et Les Grandes manœuvres (1955). René Clair was elected to the Académie Française in 1960 and died in 1981. —Octuor de France
Some lovely moments - especially the nonnarrative sequences - and a great story do not, for me dispel the pure tedium of this film. All those camera movements end up at the service of alarmingly ponderous direction. Is this the same Clair that directed An Italian Straw Hat and Entr'acte?
After mastering the silent film Clair had misgivings about the use of sound but you wouldn't guess it from the immediate expertise of the new medium he shows in this, his first talkie. From the remarkable opening crane shot over the rooftops of a studio-bound Paris it's clear a Master is in control. With a sparing use of dialogue he manages to create a charming and romantic musical concoction with elements of comedy.
A look at some of the best original French posters for the films in Film Forum’s current series: The French Old Wave.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… High up in the sky we float. We turn to observe the neighbourhood. But wait, no: we are drawn towards them, more than a dozen people. And so we go, down, down, down to the earth… read review