Under the Roofs of Paris
(Sous les toits de Paris)

Screening on Film
Directed by René Clair.
With Albert Préjean, Pola Illery, Edmond T. Gréville.
US, 1930, 35mm, black & white, 92 min.
French with English subtitles.
Print source: HFA

The street life of Paris in the 1920s provides an exceptionally vivid backdrop to this lyrical story of a love triangle between a street singer, his best friend, and the woman they both love. From the graceful opening pan across the (studio-recreated) rooftops of the title to the multiple variations of its memorable theme song, the enchantment of Clair’s first talkie has remained intact. Even the slight awkwardness of the semi-synchronized soundtrack, as scratchy as if played on a wind-up phonograph, complements its nostalgic, almost anachronistic visuals. That, plus Lazare Meerson’s elegantly spare sets, Armand Bernard’s jingly score, and the naïve but affecting performances, make for a miniaturist masterpiece.


  • Under the Brooklyn Bridge

    Directed by Rudy Burckhardt.
    US, 1955, 16mm, black & white, 15 min.
    Print source: HFA

Artist and filmmaker Rudy Burckhardt spent a lifetime capturing the world around him in an improvised, highly personal style. Among his most beautiful studies is this simple portrait of children swimming under the Brooklyn Bridge.

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Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive: U–Z