René Clair Gordon Gow - Essay

Gordon Gow

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The light touch is something we experience all too rarely in films nowadays, and it takes a master like René Clair to remind us how satisfactory it can be…. [It] has been reported on the one hand that the story of Tout l'Or du Monde is based on fact and really happened in France not long ago, and on the other that Clair had had such a subject in mind way back in the early 1930s just after he finished A nous la Liberté….

Working on the assumption that Clair has been cogitating all this since the early 1930s, one gathers that what held him up so long was a fear that the resultant film might prove a bit static; a fear that turns out to have been well founded. About halfway through, the plot of Tout l'Or du Monde very nearly grinds to a standstill, which is a pity, because it is here that Clair is getting in some deft jibes at the publicity game, and these in themselves are extremely funny.

Yet if the progression of the thing is awkward, that light touch I mentioned is a saving grace….

[Where anything sentimental] encroaches, there are few to match Clair at the knack of keeping things in check. Where others pluck heartstrings, he applies the fingertips with a touch that provokes soft but unmistakable reverberations. (p. 24)

Gordon Gow, "'All the Gold in the World'" (© copyright Gordon Gow 1963; reprinted with permission), in Films and Filming, Vol. 9, No. 10, July, 1963, pp. 24-5.