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The Sad Sack
(Tire au flanc)

Directed by Jean Renoir.
With George Pomiés, Michel Simon, Jeanne Helbling.
France, 1928, digital video, black & white.
French intertitles with English subtitles.

Renoir’s one true silent comedy was made at a transitional moment when he was frustrated by the limited fortunes of his independent productions and looking to broaden his horizons. Thus he adapted a popular stage farce about life in the military for a couple of misfits. Little-seen to this day, it remains one of Renoir’s most underrated films. François Truffaut considered it “one of the funniest films ever made in France and one of the greatest silent comedies,” as well as an important inspiration for Zéro de Conduite, with Jean Vigo substituting a boarding school for Renoir’s barracks comedy. Tire au flanc also marks one step towards a key component of Renoir’s mature style by featuring an ensemble cast rather than a solo protagonist.

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