Under the roofs of Paris

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German title Under the roofs of Paris
Original title Sous les toits de Paris
Country of production France
original language French
Publishing year 1930
length 90 (German version) 80 (French version) minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director René Clair
script René Clair
production Frank Clifford for the film Sonores Tobis
music André Gailhard
camera Georges Périnal
cut René Le Hénaff

Beneath the roofs of Paris is a French film by René Clair made in 1929 by a German production company . He was his first sound film director.


The penniless street singer Albert lives in a Paris neighborhood in a small attic room under the roof of a multi-storey house. When he met the pretty Romanian Pola one day, his heart quickly caught fire. But two other men, Albert's friend Louis and Fred, the small boy, are also very interested in the girl and create massive competition for Albert. When one day Fred steals her front door key, Pola no longer dares to go home that evening because she no longer feels safe there under these circumstances. Albert then offers her his small apartment and even gives her his bed. Quite a gentleman, he doesn't take advantage of the situation and sleeps on the floor himself. Both young people grow closer and even intend to get married.

But happiness is short-lived. When Albert discovered stolen goods that came from one of Émile's raids, the street singer was arrested and sent to prison. Louis takes advantage of this situation and “takes care” of Pola, who is now single. Both soon fall in love. After a month, Émile is arrested and confesses to the police that Albert was not his accomplice. Then Albert is released again and wants to go back to Pola. When Fred finds out about this, he wants to challenge Albert to a knife fight in order to finally win Pola for himself. Louis comes in and Albert comes to the rescue. It comes to a solid fight. Eventually Albert realizes that while he was away, Pola and Louis actually fell seriously in love with each other. With a heavy heart he decides to do without the girl. To keep up appearances, he throws Louis for Pola, but loses on purpose.

Production notes

The film was a production of the French branch of the German production company Tobis, established in Paris in 1929 . It had its world premiere on January 2, 1930 at the Moulin Rouge in Paris . In Germany, Under the Roofs of Paris was first performed on August 15, 1930.

The buildings were designed by Lazare Meerson , assisted by Alexandre Trauner . The costume designs are made by René Hubert . The head of the Tobis branch in Paris, Frank Clifford, took over production management .

Marcel Carné and Georges Lacombe served René Clair as assistant directors.


Both contemporary and post-war criticism devoted the greatest attention to this unusual film.

In Kay Weniger's Das Großes Personenlexikon des Films , René Clair's biography reads the following: “ Under the roofs of Paris , his brilliant, acclaimed entry into the sound film, can be seen as the quintessence of all Clair's works; Like his best works, it is a simple and at the same time tender declaration of love to his hometown Paris, to its bizarre and strange, sentimental and quick-tempered types, to the attic apartments and the bistros, the backyards and alleys, to their flair and their music - one transfigured world full of charm and elegance, which Clair had created in the film studios of the French capitals. "

In Albert Préjean's biography, less pointed out parallels between Préjean and the character Albert he portrayed: “With the role of the street singer Albert in Clair's legendary Milieu film Under the Roofs of Paris , Préjean not only made a brilliant debut in the sound film industry, but found him this character also did his most appropriate job: he played a kind of alter ego. Albert corresponded perfectly to Préjean's self-image, he loved women and was not averse to a fight (Préjean worked as a boxer before his acting career, among other things), he was a do-it-all with a decent core, a Parisian bohemian of the backyards and alleys, a street singer and petty crook. "

Jerzy Toeplitz writes in his history of the film : “The first sound film by René Clair Unter den Dächern von Paris (1930) proved that the song can also be used differently in a film . Here the song is neither an addition nor an attraction, but an essential means of emphasizing the cause of the film. When René Clair showed the Parisian suburbs realistically, but also poetically, he could not avoid the folk song popular in this area and the role it played in the lives of the residents of this periphery of the 'city of lights'. The song expresses the feelings and dreams of the people of the suburbs in the words and in the simple, easy-to-catch melody. The poetry of reality grows out of its rhythm, and an image of human life develops from the tall brick houses with the countless steep, crumbled and crooked chimneys. In the film Under the Roofs of Paris, song and film merge into an inseparable whole. "

Reclam's film guide wrote about “Under the Roofs of Paris”: “With melancholy irony he tells a story from the milieu of the alleys and backyards, the street singers, the little crooks and the bizarre citizens. But his grip on the present does not turn into a realistic description of the situation, but into a poetic romance, for which reality is only one aspect of life. The use of the clay is particularly successful. [...] The song of the street singer becomes a red thread that links different scenes and bridges the time gap. "

Bucher's encyclopedia of the film sums it up: “A light and slightly sentimental triangular story from the Parisian underworld ... which is told with several popular chansons. Despite strong reservations Clair, his first sound film was an unqualified success with both critics and audiences. In order to avoid the ridiculous rigidity that forced the inflexible dialogue recording, he limited the dialogue to an absolute minimum. "

In Heinrich Fraenkel's Immortal Film. The great chronicle. From the first note to the colored wide screen you can read: “[N] he is the atmosphere of Paris, its boulevards and suburbs, its bistros and mansards, its midinettes and apaches have never been more alive than in this charming film, despite all its verve . […] What makes this film from 1930 always a favorite of the film clubs is its great atmospheric charm and the unforgettable melody 'Sous les toits de Paris'. "

The Lexicon of International Films writes: “René Clair's first sound film, which poetically avoids flat realism with chansons and noises, was not a success in Paris and owes its career to the performances in Berlin, New York and London. The tracking shot of the beginning became famous because of the unusual decorations by Meerson and the brawl that was filmed soundlessly through a pub door. "

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Kay Less : The film's great personal dictionary . The actors, directors, cameramen, producers, composers, screenwriters, film architects, outfitters, costume designers, editors, sound engineers, make-up artists and special effects designers of the 20th century. Volume 2: C - F. John Paddy Carstairs - Peter Fritz. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-89602-340-3 , p. 75.
  2. Kay Less : The film's great personal dictionary . The actors, directors, cameramen, producers, composers, screenwriters, film architects, outfitters, costume designers, editors, sound engineers, make-up artists and special effects designers of the 20th century. Volume 6: N - R. Mary Nolan - Meg Ryan. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-89602-340-3 , p. 327.
  3. ^ History of the film . Volume 2, 1928-1933, Ostberlin 1976, p. 96.
  4. ^ Reclam's film guide . By Dieter Krusche, collaboration: Jürgen Labenski, Stuttgart 1973, p. 530.
  5. Bucher's Encyclopedia of Film . Publishing house CJ Bucher, Lucerne and Frankfurt / M. 1977, p. 723.
  6. Immortal Film . Munich 1957, p. 260.
  7. Klaus Brüne (Red.): Lexicon of International Films . Volume 8, Reinbek near Hamburg 1987, p. 3994.