René Clément

Keep Your Left Up (1936, René Clément)

Keep Your Left Up is a genial little short set in a small French country town. The arrival of the postman sets off the short, which eventually has local do-nothing Jacques Tati in the ring against boxer Louis Robur.

The charm comes mostly from the setting, Clément’s excellent composition and Jean Yatove’s oddly mismatched score. Left doesn’t have any ambient sound when the music plays; just Yatove’s music and the occasional line of dialogue or sound effect gives the short a detached quality. But detached in a charming way (it’s hard to fault anything technical with the film–Clément’s composition would make up for anything).

Tati’s appealing as the lead, but he doesn’t have much to do. He handles the physical comedy fine, though a lot of it seems to be through the editing.

Only real problem? The continuity gaffes. They’re distracting. Otherwise, Left amuses all the way through.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Réne Clément; written by Jean-Marie Huard; music by Jean Yatove; produced by Fred Orain.

Starring Jacques Tati (Roger), Max Martel (Postman), Louis Robur (Boxer), Jean Aurel (Kid), Champel (Manager) and Van der Haegen (Sparring Partner).


The Deadly Trap (1971, René Clément)

It would be nice to have one positive thing to say about The Deadly Trap. Clements’s direction is so odd, Paris doesn’t even look good. Clements barely shows it; he tries hard to stylize–extreme close-ups on random objects, no establishing shots.

Actually, wait, Andréas Winding’s photography isn’t bad. It’s the only competent technical effort present. Gilbert Bécaud’s music is hilariously bad, but given when Clements utilizes it, it might be intentional. Also terrible is Françoise Javet’s editing. Again, it’s probably to fit Clements’s vision.

But what’s that vision? It changes from minute to minute. The film’s supposed to be a thriller, but Clements makes everything as obvious as possible, which kills any suspense. The scary music during these painfully boring scenes doesn’t help.

Trap opens with a pretentious existential monologue from Faye Dunaway but Clements isn’t even willing to commit to that device. Then, twenty or so minutes in, the audience finds out Dunaway has psychological problems and is being treated for them. Suddenly the opening monologue no longer makes sense since Trap‘s not from her perspective.

It’s also not from Frank Langella’s perspective. He plays her overworked jerk of a husband. One has to assume the two took the roles for the Paris shooting location. There’s no other reasonable explanation.

Both are lame, though Langella’s weaker (he fails miserably at essaying a disinterested father). Dunaway’s okay opposite the kids, but awful with Langella.

The Deadly Trap is atrocious. It’s hard to imagine how it could be worse.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by René Clément; screenplay by Sidney Buchman and Eleanor Perry, based on an adaptation by Daniel Boulanger and Clément and a novel by Arthur Cavanaugh; director of photography, Andréas Winding; edited by Françoise Javet; music by Gilbert Bécaud; produced by Georges Casati, Robert Dorfmann and Bertrand Javal; released by National General Pictures.

Starring Faye Dunaway (Jill), Frank Langella (Philip), Barbara Parkins (Cynthia), Karen Blaugueron (Miss Hansen), Raymond Gérôme (Commissaire Chenylle), Gérard Buhr (The Psychiatrist), Michele Lourie (Cathy), Patrick Vincent (Patrick) and Maurice Ranet (Stranger).


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