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I am going to horrify all the lovers of the French cinema of the thirties but René Clair's films exasperate me."Le million" which some praise to the skies is an unbearable musical ,and I dare anyone to dig the obsolete songs which "enhance" it."Quatorze Juillet" ,although it features delicate Annabella -who's in "the million" too - was dwarfed ,twenty years after by Duvivier's sensational "fete à Henriette" which includes more ideas in ten minutes than the whole of Clair's Bastille Day story.
Some will also say that "Modern times" was inspired by Clair's " A nous la Liberté". Perhaps so.And by the same token ,Chaplin might have been inspired by "le Dernier Milliardaire" for "the big dictator" (although Hitler was enough for that matter).
"Le Dernier Milliardaire " is a comedy which is not even funny.One can find,at a pinch two or three gags : as in Casinario ,there is no more money ,a guy pays with a hen and as he claims change ,he is given two chicks .What about the tip ?Well,you 've guessed it ,an egg! The story takes place in Casinario(sic) ,an imaginary land which resembles Monaco where they pay people to do almost nothing,where everybody gambles at the casino .But one day the country goes bankrupt.Hence the necessity to call a billionaire to the rescue.This greybeard is also to marry the princess ,granddaughter of the queen of Casinario.But alas,she is in love with the young conductor.
The wealthy man soon turns out to be a big dictator.
The gags are ponderous,repetitive,the satire soon comes to a sudden end .This is a very talky movie,and the actors ,now forgotten -with the exception of Renée Saint-Cyr- are overacting to a fault,particularly Max Dearly and Marthe Mellot.
An old French tune ,"J'ai du bon tabac" (where tabac (=tobacco) means dough both in the song and in the film) is used again and again .The first time,it's a good idea,the eighth one,enough is enough! I should like René Clair.I try and I try but I cannot.
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