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Under the Roofs of Paris

(French 1930 b 87')

En: 6 Ed: 6

René Clair wrote and directed this musical and mostly mimed story of two friends vying for the affection of a woman.

Albert (Albert Préjean) and Louis (Edmond T. Gréville) gamble under a roof in the rain to see who will go with a pretty woman; but she goes off with Fred (Gaston Modot). Albert sings and leads a chorus in the street. A thief takes money from the purse of Pola (Pola Illéry). Albert tells him to return the money and takes it back to her. Fred takes Albert's purse from his cap and offers it to Pola, but she declines it. As Pola goes off with Fred, Albert and Louis drink, fight, laugh, and gamble over Pola to see who will leave her alone for good. When they see her with Fred, they both leave. Another woman kisses Fred, and Pola leaves. Albert walks Pola home; but she can't get in, because Fred took her key. At Albert's place he and Pola each lay down on the floor with the bed in between. Pola wakes up in bed and hides under the covers when Bill comes in. Bill leaves a suitcase there and goes out. Since Pola can't go home, Albert lets her stay there.

Albert sings in the street as Pola sells the sheet music until a man pours water from a window above. Pola tells Albert she likes brave men but stops him from going. Fred asks someone where Albert lives. Pola packs her suitcases. Police come into Albert's and search, finding the suitcase filled with silver Bill left there. Albert won't say whose it is and is arrested. Pola sees Albert being taken away and tells Louis. Bill tells Fred he left the suitcase at Albert's. Louis dines and drinks with Pola. The police arrest Bill, and Albert comes home to find a note warning him to leave. Pola becomes jealous and leaves Louis, running into Fred. Albert goes to the dancehall and sees Pola with Fred. Fred warns Albert to stay away from Pola. Albert dances with Pola, and then he and Fred go outside. Pola tells Louis. Fred pulls out a large knife, Albert a small one. Fred tells Albert to stay away, and Albert slaps Fred. They fight. When Louis shoots out the street-light, everyone runs away. The police arrest several men with guns and knives; but Albert and Louis go into a bar, smiling. Albert kisses Pola, but Pola goes to Louis. Albert and Louis fight; then Albert says he doesn't love her. Louis rolls the dice, and Albert changes it, saying Louis won. Albert says good-bye, shaking hands with Pola and Louis before leaving. In the final scene Albert is singing in the street again.

This film, made silent and then dubbed with the 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.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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