Clair. For a very small window of time Clair was the greatest director in the world along with von Sternberg. From 1930 to 1931 he made three of the best 1000 films, and three of the best 100 films of the decade—Under the Roofs of Paris, Le Million, and – À nous la liberté. He would add a few solid Hollywood films to his resume in the 1940’s but it’s really the basis of these three films that he’s here at #127 above others. They all bare the stamp of his unique visual style.
Best film: Le Million. I have it in the top 300 of all-time (#269) which I in the borderline masterpiece area—it is certainly an imaginative work of art.
total archiveable films: 6
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 1 (Le Million)
top 100 films of the decade: 3 (Le Million, Under the Roofs of Paris, A nous la liberte)
most overrated: I don’t have any candidates for an overrated film here. Clair has two films in the TSPDT consensus top 1000—Le Million at #838 and A Nous la liberte at #993 and I think both are underrated.
most underrated: There are a couple of options here .I’m nearly 600 slots higher on Le Million than the consensus but my official entry here is Under the Roofs of Paris as, somehow, it can’t land a spot in the TSPDT top 1000 and it certainly would land a spot on my top 1000. It was certainly one of the most beautiful films that was ever made at the time of its release.
gem I want to spotlight: A nous la liberté. An enjoyable, visually inventive satire.
stylistic innovations/traits: Strong visuals—Clair deserves more comparisons to Murnau and Renoir than he gets. Look at these here, below and above— it goes beyond calling them magnificent compositions. This is jaw-dropping beauty. The archiveable filmography is brief (all of these films are taken from the three 1930-1931 films but what a two-year stretch indeed) but Clair triumphed at a time when the vast majority of the cinema world was struggling with the transition from silent to sound during this era. Clair, indeed, stood alone.
- Le Million
- Under the Roofs of Paris
- À nous la liberté
- And Then There Were None
- I Married a Witch
- The Italian Straw Hat
By year and grades
|1927- The Italian Straw Hat|
|1930- Under the Roofs of Paris||HR|
|1931- À nous la liberté||HR|
|1931- Le Million||MS|
|1942- I Married a Witch||R|
|1945- And Then There Were None||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives