ⓘ Le Million

Le Million

ⓘ Le Million

Le Million is a 1931 French musical comedy film directed by Rene Clair.The story was adapted by Clair from a play by Georges Berr and Marcel Guillemand.


1. Plot

While being hounded by creditors, a debt-ridden artist discovers he has just won a lottery worth a million Dutch florins. Realizing that he has left the ticket in the pocket of his jacket, he attempts to retrieve it but discovers that his fiancee Beatrice has given away the jacket to a criminal in order to elude the police. He and his rival race to retrace the jacket which has passed to a brigand nicknamed "Grandpa Tulip" and then to a tenor singing "Les Bohemiens" at the opera theater that night.

Michel, arriving at the theater following a stint at the local jail, and Beatrice engage in a madcap chase through the theater as they endeavor to regain the ticket; during the chase the jacket flies out the window onto the top of a car. Fearing he has lost the ticket for good, Michel gets into the taxi of one of his creditors, only to find the sleeve of the jacket hanging in front of the window. After stopping the cab to remove the jacket from the top of the car, his attempt to search for the ticket in the pocket is thwarted by associates of Grandpa Tulip, who force him to hand over the jacket. Leaving dejected, he returns to his apartment to find his creditors in good spirits, as they think that they will be repaid. Before he gives them the bad news, Tulip enters the apartment with a jacket. Thinking that this his original jacket, Michel searches the pockets. Finding them empty, he tells Tulip that he actually wanted a ticket in the pocket, which Tulip subsequently produces, having taken it out of the jacket before giving it away.


2. Cast in credits order

  • Georgette Dalmas
  • Louis Musy
  • Annabella as Beatrice
  • Armand Bernard as Le Chef DOrchestre
  • Jane Pierson as LEpiciere
  • Odette Talazac as La Cantatrice
  • Franck Maurice
  • Allan Durant
  • Andre Michaud as Le Boucher
  • Jean-Louis Allibert as Prosper
  • Pedro Elviro as Le Regisseur
  • Georges Zwingel
  • Raymond Cordy as Le Chauffeur De Taxi
  • Gabrielle Rosny
  • Eugene Stuber as Le Policier
  • Teddy Michaud
  • Jean Gaubens
  • Rene Lefevre as Michel Bouflette
  • Gustave Huberdeau
  • Paul Ollivier as Granpere Tulipe
  • Vanda Greville as Vanda
  • Constantin Siroesco as Ambrosio Sopranelli
  • Louis Pre Fils
  • Edouard Francomme
  • Henri Kerny
  • Pierre Alcover as Le Policier

3. Production

Le Million was director Rene Clairs second sound film. Initially, he had been skeptical of the value that sound would bring, saying that it was "an unnatural creation, just useful for canned theater." He detested the other sound films of the day and their dedication to the slavish dialogue. He would change his feelings when he realised that he could also apply a soundtrack to a film, a strategy he used in Le Million, three years after the first sound film was released.


4. Critical reception

Paul Sherman of the Boston Herald described the film as "lively and down-to-earth". Jeremy Heilman of Movie Martyr says that the "sophisticated use of the fledgling sound technology led to universal acclaim for the director, who became regarded as the first true master of the sound film." The eminent New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael lavished praise on the film: "Rene Clair at his exquisite best; no one else has ever been able to make a comedy move with such delicate, dreamlike inevitability … This movie is lyrical, choreographic, giddy--its the best French musical of its period." Elliot Stein of Criterion calls the film "a synthesis, a perfect fusion of sound, dialogue, camera placement and editing. The mood may be ironic, sad or happy, but music and song are never far away."

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