The Million (Le million)

The Million

It’s easy when you’re a millionaire!

Back-to-back Rene Clair! This is actually the film he made directly before A Nous la Liberte, so with that knowledge I prepared myself for either a repeat of that film, or an even more rudimentary example of an early French talkie. Good thing I did; this is almost virtually identical to A Nous la Liberte in everything except plot. It even shares many of the same actors; I recognized a good number of the main players of the former film in this one. It’s a light-hearted comedy, filled with musical numbers and some silent-era scenes. Sound familiar?

The film starts out with one of the most interesting opening shots I’ve seen in such an early film. It goes from a rooftop shot directly into a miniature, then directly back into another rooftop shot, all with some of the most visually appealing architecture I’ve seen in movies outside of Dr. Caligari. From there, we meet a starving artist, behind on a great deal of his payments. When he is chased around the complex by his debtors (along with a criminal fleeing from the police, who ends up with the artist’s jacket as a disguise), he is given a newspaper which shows the winning lottery number – his. Only problem is, his ticket was in his jacket, and from there he goes on a madcap search throughout the city in order to find it. I go into the plot with a little more depth because, really, I have nothing to say about this one; I’ve already said it in my previous review. The two films are really that similar, and indeed I ran into the question of whether both of them needed to be on the list or not. For what it’s worth, I’d have probably picked this one.

I liked this just slightly more than A Nous la Liberte. Maybe it was the difference in plot, maybe I was more accustomed to the type of film it was going to be, or maybe I was just in a better receptive mood; whatever the reason, this is what I ended up with. As for a recommendation, I recommend either seeing this or Clair’s other list film, but unless you’re a list completionist, there’s really no reason to watch both of them, unless you watch one and like it enough that you want more. I can’t speak for the rest of Clair’s filmography, but I wasn’t fully convinced his work was important enough or, frankly, good enough to make it onto the list, even if I was mildly entertained by this one. I guess I’ll just take that and call it even.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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