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Sous les toits de Paris / Under the roofs of Paris (René Clair, 1930)

A street singer falls in love with one of his neighbors, who happens to be the flame of the local thug.

The film pushes its one-song-theme quite extremely, the tune is repeated ad nauseam in hundreds of variations. There is a funny scene in the beginning, where the singer watches his spectators being pick-pocketed. Only when the thief tries to rob the girl that has caught the singer's fancy, he intervenes. Interestingly, the film doesn't have the kind of clean happy-end that all the music and merriment during the first half suggests.

There are some interesting shots of the Parisian street that was built on soundstage, which must have been huge in scale. A very impressive camera movement introduces us to the neighborhood and it feels surprisingly real, possibly because of the fluidity of that first camera movement.

I am quite amused about how everybody seems quite opportunistic and the romantic interest behaves and is treated in a way that would send platoons of political correctness troops down the throat of a producer should he attempt anything even close to this. The woman seems to guard her sexual "cleanliness", but from the way the men behave this is only a question of time until she yields. On the other hand, the girl - freshly immigrated from Romania - throws herself at pretty much anyone that could supply her with anything above the basic needs.


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