René Clair

"An early exponent of french film comedy who took a stab at Hollywood filmmaking with passably good results, Clair is fondly remembered today for his stylishly witty and charming satires, whimsical fantasies, and surrealistic romps." - Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia, 1995

René Clair

Director / Screenwriter / Producer
(1898-1981) Born November 11, Paris, France
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Countries: France, USA
Key Genres: Fantasy, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy Comedy, Romance, Romantic Fantasy, Short Film, Romantic Drama, Chase Movie, Melodrama, Period Film
Key Collaborators: Paul Ollivier (Leading Character Actor), Raymond Cordy (Leading Character Actor), Georges Périnal (Cinematographer), Lazare Meerson (Production Designer), Albert Préjean (Leading Actor), Louisette Hautecoeur (Editor), René Le Hénaff (Editor), Georges Van Parys (Composer), Léon Barsacq (Production Designer), Gérard Philipe (Leading Actor), Frank Clifford (Producer), Gaston Modot (Character Actor)

"A highly respected artist in the 1920s and 30s, René Clair's career declined in the post-war period and his reputation has diminished over time. Even his best-known comedies now look somewhat mannered and over-designed, his social criticism a little fey and complacent. Nevertheless, even if he doesn't belong to the first rank, Clair was a whimsical innovator who brought charm and wit to everything he touched... Although Clair was not fond of location-shooting, his meticulously designed sets and stock characters shaped a cheery and vivacious image of Paris. Away from home, he was less comfortable. Moving first to England and then to Hollywood, Clair 's imaginative drive faltered, and he never recovered the standing he enjoyed in the early 1930s." - Tom Charity (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"Clair now looks something less than the major director he was known as in 1935. His work since that first venturing outside France has seldom lacked amusement or a sense of fantasy, but it does seem lightweight. Even his finest films - those made in the first experiment of sound - are rather precious and too vaguely opposed to "progress" when set beside L'Âge d'or, L'Atalante, Boudu, or Toni. Clair's world is brilliantly conceived and wrought, but it remains self-contained." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2002)
"Although Clair made several English-language and Hollywood films, his American period is generally blamed for his decline. The trouble with Clair's American career is that he was typed for fantasy and other fluff, and could never escape his niche... À Nous la Liberté, Le Million, Sous les Toits de Paris, The Italian Straw Hat retain a certain classic value, but Clair, once too good to be called even the French Lubitsch, now seems more like the French Mamoulian." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)
"Although briefly associated with the French avant-garde (his second film, Entr'acte, remains a masterpiece of pure cinema), from the very start he considered film as a medium of entertainment. He developed into one of the most original stylists in world cinema, a complete filmmaker who always wrote or collaborated on the films he directed and constantly explored the possibilities of visual form, movement and sound." - The MacMillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994
"An expert at light comedy, fantasy, and artful avant-garde productions." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Under the Roofs of Paris (1930) , Le Million (1931)
Recommended
Paris qui dort (1923), Entr'acte (1924), The Italian Straw Hat (1927) , And Then There Were None (1945)
Worth a Look
The Phantom of the Moulin-Rouge (1925), La Tour (1928), À nous la liberté (1931) , Quatorze Juillet (1932), The Ghost Goes West (1935), I Married a Witch (1942), It Happened Tomorrow (1944), Man About Town (1947), Beauty and the Devil (1950), Beauties of the Night (1952), The Grand Maneuver (1955), The Gates of Paris (1957)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
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Films / Books
    À nous la liberté
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