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The Fat and the Lean (1961)
"Le gros et le maigre" (original title)

6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 814 users  
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A small and thin barefoot slave (played by Polanski) plays a flute and beats a drum to entertain his large master who rocks in a rocking chair in front of his mansion. The slave jumps and ... See full summary »

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Title: The Fat and the Lean (1961)

The Fat and the Lean (1961) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Director: Roman Polanski
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Cast

Uncredited cast:
André Katelbach ...
The fat (uncredited)
...
The lean (uncredited)
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Storyline

A small and thin barefoot slave (played by Polanski) plays a flute and beats a drum to entertain his large master who rocks in a rocking chair in front of his mansion. The slave jumps and leaps like a madman, wipes his master's brow, feeds him, washes his feet, shades him from the sun with an umbrella and holds a urinal for him. Written by Anonymous

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Genres:

Short | Comedy | Music

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Release Date:

December 1961 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A kövér és a sovány  »

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Trivia

Roman Polanski directed this fifteen-minute black-and-white short just after completing film school. The film features the music of Krzysztof Komeda, who composed the scores for all but one of the director's films between Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958) and Rosemary's Baby (1968). (from the Criterion Collection DVD) See more »

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Featured in Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fat and Thin
7 October 2007 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

It may surprise those who know him best from Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown and The Pianist that several of Roman Polanski's early short features took the form of silent comedies, reminiscent of Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel and Hardy and Jacques Tati. The main difference to traditional silent comedies was that Polanski's were wacky and surreal, but not very funny. This is the exception.

The Fat Man and the Thin Man (or The Fat and the Lean; there are several English translations) is one of a small number of Polanski's films to star Roman himself, and this implies it's a more personal work. He actually has quite a flair for this, and with his skinny, gangly body and innocent face could probably have made a career in slapstick had he wanted to.

Of all his shorts this is also the most open attack on the Polish regime, in particular the way Polanski felt at that point after being censored and generally messed around by both his film school and the state due to his seemingly subversive student films. Here Polanski is literally playing and performing to somebody else's tune, humiliating himself in the process. Add in to the mix that this film is also about wanting to escape, and you have a fairly clear idea of what Polanski was trying to say here.

And The Fat Man and the Thin Man is genuinely funny too. We see Polanski performing various degrading tasks for his master, and then on the second day attempting them all whilst chained to a goat (yes, it is still fairly bizarre) and, on the third day, doing them all in a joyful, exaggerated manner now that he has been unchained again.

Alongside When Angels Fall (which it could hardly be more unlike), this is easily the most entertaining of Polanski's shorts.


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