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Under the Roofs of Paris (The Criterion Collection) (1927)

Albert Préjean , Pola Illéry , René Clair  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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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: #96,452 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Under the Roofs of Paris (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

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

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clair's first talkie is also one of his best. October 15, 2004
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

"Under the Roofs of Paris" released as "Sous les toits de Paris" in France is Rene Clair's first film with sound in it.

The film is about two men in love with the same woman. when one is falsely accused of a crime and sent to jail, the other takes advantage of the situation to make it worse.

It is another of the musical comedies released by Rene Clair, three of which (including this one) are currently available on the Criterion Collection.

The print quality is not perfect which is to be expected of a film nearly 75 years old. But as always, Criterion does an excellent restoration. This one having been done under the supervision of the French.

There are some great special features also.

"Paris qui dort" (Paris Alseep), Clair's first film is included. It is a silent film about a scientist who used a ray gun to 'freeze' every person in Paris. Only some people in an airplane and the night watchman in the top of the Eiffel Tower are unaffected.

There is also a interview with the director and a trailer.

This is a great release and both films on here are worth watching
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to follow, but interesting. 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
3.0 out of 5 stars ALBERT AND LOUIS AND FRED AND POLA January 30, 2003
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tasteful restraint November 8, 2007
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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Evocative Portrait of Life in the Crowded Tenements of Paris
UNDER THE ROOFS OF PARIS, (SOUS LES TOITS DE PARIS) (1930) was the first talking movie of René Clair, beloved director of many French classics. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Stephanie De Pue
5.0 out of 5 stars Rene Claire Demonstrates His Mastery In A World Cinema Classic
Under the Roofs of Paris is one of the great achievements of early French and World Cinema. There is no disputing that Claire was one of the top four or five masters of French... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Michael Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Under the Roofs of Paris
This lustrous early sound film by Rene Clair tells of a love triangle in the City of Lights, using the 1930s-era streets (and yes, rooftops) of Paris as its sublimely visual... Read more
Published on June 21, 2007 by John Farr
3.0 out of 5 stars A bizarre comic fantasy ...
During the '30s, René Clair was considered one of the cinema's most stylish innovators and satirists... Read more
Published on January 10, 2007 by Roberto Frangie
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb homage to the eternal city!
Rene Clair has always been the prototype of the kindness and noblesse as well an easy going filmmaker; his entire career colud be described as the most genuine artistic Ambassador... Read more
Published on February 7, 2006 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
3.0 out of 5 stars There's Something About Pola
I feel a little odd reviewing this movie. I seem to be in complete contrast to what other have to say about this movie. I was left somewhat disappointed. Read more
Published on May 4, 2005 by Alex Udvary
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming, romantic film from the 1930s
Albert is a street singer, selling songs on a Parisian street, when he notices Pola, shyly singing along with the crowd. Read more
Published on July 25, 2003 by gac1003
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing French classic... beautiful filmmaking!
A heartbreaking, beautiful portrait of urban life in the City of Love. This was director Rene Clair's first sound film, built around the concept of following a street musician... Read more
Published on December 13, 2002 by DJ Joe Sixpack
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful early sound film, lovingly restored
Rene Clair's first sound film contains innovative cinematic devices that have since become commonplace (but which still retain most of their poetry in this context). Read more
Published on September 24, 2002 by Timothy Hulsey
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