René Clair

René Clair – Les fêtes galantes AKA The Lace Wars (1965)

Having lost a battle against the Prince of Beaulieu, Marechal d’Allenberg returns to his castle with his few remaining followers. As famine takes its toll, one of d’Allenberg’s men, Joli Coeur, sets off to look for food. The latter not only finds some pork, but he also saves the honour of a beautiful girl who was being attacked by some lustful brutes. On his return to the castle, Joli Coeur is surprised to see both the man who gave him the pork and the girl he rescued. The girl turns out to be d’Allenberg’s daughter, Hélène. Knowing that Joli Coeur would do everything for her, Hélène asks him to leave for a secret and dangerous mission. He must go back behind the enemy lines to look for Frédéric, the Prince of Beaulieu’s son, and ask him to stop the war… Read More »

René Clair – Sous les toits de Paris AKA Under the Roofs of Paris [+Extras] (1930)

“Criterion” wrote:
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. Read More »

René Clair – Quatorze juillet AKA Bastille Day (1933)

René Clair, the most distinguished of the French motion-picture directors, is one of the great men of the cinema. His triumphant photoplays, Sous les toits de Paris, Le Million and, the finest of them all, A nous la liberté, stand among the genuine classics of the films. Now M. Clair, who has tried cheerful sentiment in Sous les toits, farce in Le Million, and brilliant social satire in A nous la liberté, gives up some of his adventurousness and returns to the quiet romantic mood of his earliest success in the new work called Quatorze juillet (“Fourteenth of July”). Read More »

René Clair – À nous la liberté (1931)


René Clair’s exuberant anti-capitalist satire À nous la liberté was one of the early triumphs of sound cinema and is still considered one of the all-time greats of French cinema. The film is a light-hearted comic tour de force, erupting into unbridled farce in a few places, and yet it also offers an intelligent reflection on one of the major social preoccupations of the time: the gradual dehumanisation of mankind through technological progress. In characteristically humorous vein, Clair gives us a speculative glimpse of the future in which human beings are reduced to quasi-machines to meet the remorseless capitalist imperative for ever greater efficiency and increased output. The demoralising repetitiveness of life on the factory production line mirrors the endless monotony of the prison scenes at the start of the film, and both contain echoes of the Fascistic nightmare that would overrun most of Europe in the 1930s. In an era of immense social and technological change, Clair poses a timely question: what is man’s destiny, to be a free individualist or a robotic slave to corporate greed? Read More »

René Clair – Le Million (1931)


A penniless artist, Michel, is pursued by creditors when he discovers he has won the million florin lottery. He realises that he left the winning lottery ticket in his jacket, which he gave to his girlfriend, Béatrice, to repair. However, Béatrice, upset when she saw Michel with another woman, gave the jacket away. What ensues then is a madcap chase by Michel and his friends to recover the missing jacket – and the million florin prize.
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René Clair – Tout l’Or du Monde AKA All the Gold in the World (1961)


The small village of Cabosse is renowned for one thing: the people who live there can enjoy a long and healthy life, thanks to the pure country air. Seeing a chance to make some easy money, businessman Victor Hardy decides to buy up the entire village and transform it into an upmarket community for the well-off. Within a few weeks, everyone in the village has agreed to sell his house to Hardy, except one man. The elderly Mathieu Dumont refuses to sell up because he is determined to preserve an old family tradition, namely that every Dumont who has lived in the Cabosse should die and be buried there. Hardy sees a potential ally in Dumont’s timid son, Toine, and wastes no time trying to win him round. However, his troubles are far from over… Read More »

René Clair – And Then There Were None (1945)


Jeremy Heilman of wrote:
One of the supreme suspense films, René Clair’s And Then There Were None combines the glamour and wit of a Hollywood studio production with a considerable amount of very real suspense. Adapted from an Agatha Christie novel (Ten Little Indians), it tells the story of a group of strangers who are invited to stay at an island estate only to find out that they are being eliminated one by one according to the predictions of a nursery rhyme that they find. By making a game of the treachery and never actually showing any of the murders on-screen, Clair achieves the same delicate balance between tension and breeziness that Hitchcock strived for in films such as To Catch a Thief and Family Plot. The production values are top notch, and the cast of relatively unknown character actors assembled keeps us from guessing whodunit right off the bat. Read More »