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Under the Roofs of Paris (The Criterion Collection)

15 customer reviews

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(Sep 24, 2002)
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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

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.

Special Features

  • New digital transfer
  • Deleted scene
  • Clair's silent film Paris qui dort (1925)
  • A 1966 BBC-TV interview with Clair
  • New and improved English subtitle translation

Product Details

  • Actors: Albert Préjean, Pola Illéry, Edmond T. Gréville, Bill Bocket, Paul Ollivier
  • Directors: René Clair
  • Writers: René Clair
  • Producers: Henri Diamant-Berger
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Home Vision Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 24, 2002
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000067IY7
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,453 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Under the Roofs of Paris (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. M. Farmbrough on October 31, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This is a film from the transitional period between silents and sound. The film was shot without sound, then later dubbed. The result is a movie that is predominantly visual and this assists greatly if you have bought the V.H.S. version, because the subtitles are all over the place. Some dialogue has no subtitles whatsoever, some has titles for part of a conversation, and (maddeningly!) other parts have a subtitle half or even a quarter visible at the bottom of the screen. This is not the fault of Rene Clair however, who presents us with some great images of the streets of Paris, its low-life, and a peek inside the rented rooms of the poor people. The sound too is pretty good when you consider its original format, and the pretty but simple music conveys Clair's own enthusiasm to the listener.
The plot is somewhat incidental, but difficult to follow since it seems two near-identical men dressed in almost the same clothes are rolling dice to see who gets a girl. They are thwarted by a tough Parisian thief who looks uncannily like Basil Fawlty! But this does not really matter, just look at the sights and sounds of 1920s Paris, lovingly recreated in the film studio and see why Clair went on to become such a successful Hollywood director.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robin Simmons VINE VOICE on January 30, 2003
Format: DVD
Rene Clair's 1930 SOUS LES TOITS DE PARIS, a mostly-mimed musical, is about about two pals -- Albert and Louis -- who make a wager in the rain "under a Paris roof" (hence the title) to see who will go with pretty Pola. But alas she goes off with Fred! A series of complications way too complex to detail here ensue as the four characters mix and match until one is left alone singing in the rain on a Paris street.
This film, made silent and then dubbed with French dialog and music, is done with grace and charm in spite its melodramatic plot. Albert's calm detachment seems to insulate him from all danger and sorrow, while Fred seems to get away with numerous nefarious deeds. I liked this film and its dreamlike images and poetic story.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 24, 2004
Format: DVD
It is amazing how quickly some directors mastered sound film almost immediately. Both Ernst Lubitsch in Hollywood and Rene Clair in France adapted to the sound film apparently without effort, and produced some of the earliest masterpieces in their respected countries. Their strategies, however, differed slightly. While Lubitsch employed microphones from beginning to end, Clair, much like Hitchcock in Great Britain with his earliest sound features, blended silent and sound techniques. In UNDER THE ROOFS OF PARIS, Clair has essentially produced a silent film with numerous talking sequences, usually relatively static scenes with conversation and singing. The reason for this was primarily the incapacity of the earliest microphones to accommodate much music. Clair is so masterful in his use of the camera, however, that he makes a virtue out of necessity, and one can only notice the silent nature of much of the film if one looks for it.
Anyone familiar with the work of Andrew Sarris knows that Clair, like Lubitsch and Hitchcock, is placed in his "Pantheon' of the greatest auteurs in the history of film, and one can easily believe it watching this remarkable film. While many early sound directors saw sound as a gimmick, Clair saw it as an opportunity to expand the capacity of film to tell a story.
The story is not like anything that would have been told in Hollywood. The story is boy meets girl, boy kinda gets girl, boy loses girl, and the girl stays lost. A note of danger and sadness underscores the entire movie, despite the sharp humor and song. Albert, a young man who makes his living by selling sheet music in the street, falls deeply in love with Pola, whom he rescues from a petty gangster. While in jail, his best friend befriends Pola, and she falls in love with him.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Martin Doege on November 8, 2007
Format: DVD
In 1930, movies with sound were still a relative novelty, and while American films of that era ("The Jazz Singer", etc.) mostly tried to outdo each other with being as loud and shrill as possible and the music was center stage, the French did a film that is tasteful and restrained in its use of sound, and sometimes even reverts back to silent film, perhaps only to remind us to savor the next time sound appears. Why am I not surprised?

I already knew the chanson that is also the main theme of the movie (and in fact one of the little jokes in the film involves panning around an apartment house only to find no one can get that ditty out of their heads, to the chagrin of some of the other tenants), so I was naturally interested to see if the movie it came from was any good. And it is. René Clair knows that his plot is banal, but then again so they are in most other movies, so this is an exercise in mood, camera movement and how the story is told. And his restraint is what makes the film seem fresh even today -- too many movies from the 1930s, whether they are American screwball comedies or French films like those of Jean Renoir have a tendency to go overboard, often in ways that make the movie somewhat painful to watch today for being so over-the-top, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The wisdom of Clair is turning a small, intimate story into a small, intimate movie. He is utterly unpretentious, something else modern filmmakers might take note of. The film is impressive because it does not try too hard to impress.

Perhaps the best way to sum this movie is to say this is is a picture which sound, which all the time extolls the virtue of silence.
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