BEAUTY AND THE DEVIL (René Clair, 1949)

Okay, okay; I was wrong to write off postwar René Clair. His return to France after his Hollywood sojourn generated some substantial work, including his dazzling comical take on the Faust legend, La beauté du diable. (Actually, it was filmed in Rome.) Perhaps the exchange that governs the seriousness of Clair’s purpose beneath the film’s […]

IT HAPPENED TOMORROW (René Clair, 1944)

Depending on the source, either a story or a play by twentieth-century Anglo-Irish author Lord Dunsany (Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany) is credited as a basis for René Clair’s comedy-fantasy It Happened Tomorrow, which itself may have inspired the U.S. television series Early Edition starring Kyle Chandler. Dudley Nichols and Clair […]

THE GRAND MANEUVERS (René Clair, 1955)

Under the spell of Max Ophüls’s Madame de . . . (1952), René Clair made his finest film since Quatorze Juillet (1933)—and his funniest since Le million (1931). Moreover, this film became his first in color—and such color: the cinematography by Robert Le Fèbvre and Robert Juillard achieved the loveliest, most gracious colors—restricted (as Garbicz […]

I MARRIED A WITCH (René Clair, 1942)

“Every man who marries marries ‘the wrong woman.’” A brilliantly funny performance in The Royal Family of Broadway (George Cukor, Cyril Gardner, 1930) brought movie stardom to Fredric March, who rarely, though memorably, performed comical roles thereafter, for instance, in Wild Bill Wellman’s Nothing Sacred (1937) opposite Carole Lombard. But a very funny March is […]

A NOUS LA LIBERTE (René Clair, 1932)

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose . . . — Kris Kristofferson Chaplin’s inspiration for Modern Times (1936), René Clair’s À nous la liberté satirically considers the nature of true happiness.      Louis and Emile, prison inmates, escape. What do they do with their freedom? Louis works hard, eventually becoming the owner of […]