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Friday, January 3, 2014

A Nous La Liberte (1931)

Two prisoners (Raymond Cordy, Henri Marchand) in a French jail plot an escape but only Cordy makes it, Marchand is apprehended by the prison guards. Cordy then becomes a wealthy industrialist but when Marchand finally escapes from jail and runs into his old friend while working at his factory, Cordy suspects blackmail. This whimsical bit of social satire is a congenial film though I never quite warmed up to it the way I would have wanted to. Rene Clair's film seems a bridge between silent cinema and the talking film. The film is very much a visual piece (the formidable art direction by Lazare Meerson was Oscar nominated) yet Clair fluidly incorporates music and song into his venture. Indeed, George Auric's excellent score, which seems inspired by Kurt Weill, permeates the film to the extent that it becomes part of the film's texture. It's influence on Charlie Chaplin's MODERN TIMES is quite obvious but Clair stayed out of the lawsuit the film's producers brought against Chaplin. With Rolla France, Paul Ollivier and Germaine Aussey.

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