Under the Roofs of Paris

"Good"

Under the Roofs of Paris Review


Classic French auteur René Clair, who recently resurfaced on DVD with his film À Nous la Liberté returns to Criterion's DVD lineup with Under the Roofs of Paris, his first feature talkie, released in 1930.

Under the Roofs is a sweet and simple little film, a standard love triangle among a Romanian immigrant, a local mobster, and a street artist. The worth of Under the Roofs comes from its pioneering use of sound -- which Clair reportedly disliked anyway -- in which Clair resorts to clever conceits to add nuance to some equally interesting camerawork.

Case in point: During an otherwise standard fight scene, the William Tell Overture plays as if it's part of the soundtrack. Only when a record starts skipping and the proprietor comes to turn off the Victrola do we realize it was part of the scene. The repeating music is such a nuisance it actually stops the fight.

Clair's production design is so clever it makes his story's weaknesses all the more visible. Sure, there's a thinly-veiled exaltation of the urban, lower classes, but there's little to be gleaned from a plot that had already become tired 70 years ago.

Still, it's an important piece of cinema history, improved by a crystal transfer to digital and enhanced by an outtake (not restored) of the original opening and Clair's Paris qui dort, a 1924 feature that Clair eventually pared down into a 30 minute short.

Aka Sous les toits de Paris.



Under the Roofs of Paris

Facts and Figures

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 2nd January 1930

Distributed by: Criterion Collection

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 17 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: René Clair

Producer: René Clair

Starring: Albert Préjean as Albert, a young street singer, Pola Illéry as Pola, a Roumanian girl, Edmond T. Gréville as Louis, Albert's friend, as Bill, The Big Boss, as Fred, a purse thief

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