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Under the Roofs of Paris (The Criterion Collection)

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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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: #113,454 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Under the Roofs of Paris (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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 Cinema, right from the beginning, and takes his place among luminaries such as Jean Renoir, Francois Truffaut, and others. Under the Roofs of Paris is probably THE classic Rene Claire film and holds-up better than some, going into a new century. Rene Claire did relatively little work in the United States and didn't really fit well into the classic Hollywood Studio System. I recall that he only made about four English language films for Hollywood, probably the most significant of those being Flame of New Orleans with Marlene Dietrich, But Claire, like Charles Chaplin was really grounded in and did his most significant work in the silent cinema. Under the Roofs of Paris is a simple story, well told, of a Parisian small time street hustler and sometimes shady but good hearted survivor and his derailed love for an innocent Parisian girl. This was a transitional film that really is a silent film with added sound and some dialogue, but still, stylistically, SILENT. In that respect it is somewhat like Eric Von Stroheim's "The Great Gabbo", and reminds one of that scenario and filming style with still primitive sound recording equipment. But despite its vintage, there is no doubt that this is one of Rene Claire's masterpieces and its a great introduction to not only film history, but as a good starting point in learning to appreciate French Cinema. The DVD features a very unique EXTRA in that it includes a historical on-camera interview with Rene Claire discussing his work.Read more ›
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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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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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