Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
France, 1931. Films Sonores Tobis. Screenplay by Rene Clair. Cinematography by Georges Perinal. Produced by Frank Clifford. Music by Georges Auric. Production Design by Lazare Meerson. Costume Design by Rene Hubert. Film Editing by Rene Le Henaff.
Two convicts escape prison and one of them sets himself up as a salesman in a phonograph company. Eventually working his way up to being the owner of the operation, the man’s life is given a new slant when he is threatened with blackmail by a man who knows about his past. Rather than turn into a dark drama about betrayal, Clair’s lighthearted exploration of larceny and morality asks us if the free man’s restrained bourgeois life is actually freer than the lawless one he used to have. Features some catchy production design that made the film the first non-American production in history to receive an Oscar nomination.
The Criterion Collection: #160
Academy Award Nomination: Best Art Direction
Venice Film Festival Award: Most Amusing Film