René Clair National Board Of Review Magazine - Essay

National Board Of Review Magazine

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

It may be that [Sous Les Toits de Paris] will not circulate widely through America because foreign tongues are not considered remunerative adjuncts to motion pictures except in localities where there is a definite audience of foreign extraction. It is a pity, for France has not sent us a more delightful movie than this one. As a matter of fact enjoying the picture depends very little on being able to understand French…. (p. 13)

Out of very slight material comes a gay and charming picture. Its atmosphere recalls the good old "Vie de Boheme," but there is a vast difference between the lightly loving Bohemians of Murger's day and the similar gentry with whom M. Clair has concerned himself. (pp. 13-14)

Sentiment has been saltily mixed with cheerful cynicism, and the rather commonplace tale of flirtation and light-hearted faith-lessness never runs into danger of becoming tearful or tragic….

What gives solidity and its greatest charm to all this is the background and atmosphere of Paris—the French Paris untouched by tourists and never seen in movies….

But the enthusiastic analyst of the cinema will find a double pleasure in this picture through watching the way it has been made…. Most of all he will perhaps be struck by the sparing but immensely suggestive employment of actual dialogue. There is hardly more speech than there used to be titles in the best of the silent films, and yet you are satisfied you have heard all that was worth hearing—certainly all that was necessary to hear. It is far more movie than talkie, which exercises the imagination and rests the ear. M. Clair has used the best of the new form without losing any of the good of the old. (p. 14)

"Exceptional Photoplays: 'Sous les toits de Paris'," in National Board of Review Magazine (copyright, 1931), Vol. VI, No. 2, February, 1931, pp. 13-14.