This classic satire on the dehumanization of industrial workers is one of Rene Clair's greatest achievements, preceding Chaplin's indictment of the industrial revolution, MODERN TIMES, by five years. Clair's fast-paced and wickedly funny entertainment centers on the friendship between two
prison inmates--Louis (Raymond Cordy), who escapes and becomes a phonograph company tycoon, and Emile (Henri Marchand), who, after he too escapes, is hired at his friend's factory. Filming without a script and giving his actors freedom to improvise, Clair structured his film like an operetta.
Georges Auric wrote the music, to which the movements of the assembly lines of actors are choreographed. Clair's message is an angry one--"a bitter pill," as he described it, which "would be more easily swallowed when coated with diverting music." The film earned an Academy Award nomination for
Best Interior Decoration.
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