A famous left-wing satirical comedy about two ex-convicts, one of whom escaped jail and then worked his way up from salesman to factory owner, where he oversees a highly mechanized ... See full summary »
A famous left-wing satirical comedy about two ex-convicts, one of whom escaped jail and then worked his way up from salesman to factory owner, where he oversees a highly mechanized operation where the workers are reduced to mere automatons. Fearful of being exposed over his past, at first by his friend and later by another gangster, the owner chooses to give his factory to the workers, then escapes with his friend to the freedom of the open road. The production company for "A Nous la Liberte" was for more than a decade embroiled in a lawsuit claiming that Charles Chaplin had seen their film and plagiarized many ideas from it as he developed "Modern Times." Written by
When Charles Chaplin's Modern Times (1936) premiered, the original distribution company of À nous la liberté, Tobis, wanted to sue. Director René Clair refused to join such a suit, saying that he considered it a compliment if Charles Chaplin based his film on René Clair's, but the suit went ahead nevertheless. Tobis, sued United Artists and Charles Chaplin for plagiarism. The suit, with separate segments in France and in the US, went on for more than a decade, right through WWII. Charles Chaplin, at the request of his lawyers, finally settled, but never admitted to the charge. René Clair stayed aloof from the affair, and he and Charles Chaplin, whom he greatly admired, remained friends. See more »
[Voice over Singer]:
Liberty is the happy man's due / He enjoys love and skies of blue / But then there are some / Who no worse crimes have done / It's the sad story we tell / From a prison cell
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From their French prison, convicts Raymond Cordy (as Louis) and Henri Marchand (as Emile) take advantage of silly putty cell bars to carry out a daring escape. The industrious Mr. Cordy is successful, but spirited Mr. Marchand is caught in the act. On the outside, Cordy takes advantage of the assembly-line work he performed in prison to become a prosperous phonograph records tycoon. Ironically, he finds his old friend Marchand working the factory production line, after he also escapes from jail. They renew their friendship, which has been threatened by industry.
Director Rene Clair makes this an artful picture; from the great bicycle stunt win to the flying money, it's excellent - but, alas, not too amusing. The soundtrack, featuring music by Georges Auric, is effective - but, the spoken words seem unnecessary. "A nous la liberte" might have worked better as a non-talking picture. In a case where Mr. Clair felt imitation was the sincerest form of flattery, Charlie Chaplin employed a similar look and thesis for his "Modern Times" (1936). Although Mr. Chaplin's classic is counted as his first fully sound film, it is tellingly silent.
******* A nous la liberte (12/18/31) Rene Clair ~ Raymond Cordy, Henri Marchand, Rolla France, Paul Ollivier
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