Michel, a Parisian artist, is being hounded by numerous impatient creditors. To make things worse, when he is embracing the woman whose portrait he is painting, he is surprised by his indignant fiancée Béatrice. Suddenly, Michel learns that he holds the winning ticket in the Dutch Lottery. But when he goes to retrieve the ticket from the pocket of his jacket, he finds that Béatrice has given the jacket to a stranger who was in need. Now everyone has a keen interest in finding that jacket. Written by
It begins with a wondrous swoop of the camera over the rooftops of Paris, at night. A man climbs a ladder and peeks into a lit skylight. There's a party going on, below. The party-goers ALL look up and see the man and tell him, IN SONG, that they're celebrating and they have a story to tell. They toss him a bottle of champagne. They sing and dance, as the shot dissolves to a couple alone in the room, kissing. It's an astonishing opening sequence. And so Rene Clair begins to weave his magical, charming, funny story. I like to bore people by telling them that I can tell if I'm going to like a movie within the first five minutes. "Le Million" took me all of five seconds. It is nothing more or less than a farce, a romp, with people of all shapes and sizes, all with varying motives tearing through hallways and popping in and out of doorways with dizzying regularity. Two coinciding chases collide. A "serious" opera morphs into a game of touch football. And every so often - quite often, in fact - people just start singing! There's a lovely operetta duet onstage that frames the real thing going on behind the scenes. And best of all, with all the fun poked at various characters, and all the little satirical jabs, there isn't a mean-spirited moment in the entire film. How rare is that? I wonder if Blake Edwards thought of this film when he was writing the script for "Victor/Victoria". And yes, Virginia, there is a fat lady - and she sings!
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