THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT (UN CHAPEAU DE PAILLE D’ITALIE)

René Clair’s sparkling comedy of manners is a witty, delicate, inspired satire on propriety and behavior in the bourgeois mind-set. Transposing the action of the perennial stage farce from 1851 to a summer wedding day in 1895 – the birth of cinema – Clair recalls detail, costume and design captured by the first movies. THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT (UN CHAPEAU DE PAILLE D’ITALIE) – triumphantly survives its 1927 journey from stage to screen; a dozen eccentric characters, superbly acted, try desperately to keep up appearances in the face of disaster, their attitudes, concerns and gestures exquisitely stylized under Clair’s deft orchestration. The sets and costumes, too, are a charming combination of the suffocating and the exact.

A bridegroom is riding to his marriage when his horse eats a straw hat hanging on a branch while its owner, a married lady, enjoys a tryst behind the bush with her lover, a fierce hussar. She cannot go home without her hat, so the groom interlaces his wedding with an attempt to find madam a twin chapeau, launching a series of misunderstandings and embarrassments. THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT has few cinematic equals and inspired Pauline Kael to observe, “One of the funniest films ever made… so expertly timed and choreographed that farce becomes ballet.”

 Albert Préjean as Fadinard in  THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT  (1927)

Albert Préjean as Fadinard in THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT (1927)

This is the only fully complete edition of THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT ever available to American viewers. The film was mastered in high definition at 19 frames per second from the original 35mm negative used for the English release in 1930. As that version had been subjected to about twenty edits, all the missing pieces were restored from an original French print. Intertitles are in English, with optional subtitles of the original French text.

There is a choice of two new accompaniments, one by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and the other by pianist Philip Carli; each providing a unique interpretation on this delightful film.

  THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT (  UN CHAPEAU DE PAILLE D’ITALIE)

THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT (UN CHAPEAU DE PAILLE D’ITALIE)

The bonus materials include a short film by René Clair, EIFFEL TOWER (LA TOUR) (1928) and Ferdinand Zecca’s FUN AFTER THE WEDDING (NOCE EN GOGUETTE) (1907), typical of the early films that inspired Clair.

The enclosed booklet provides essays by Lenny Borger and Iris Barry. The complete 1851 play Un Chapeau de paille d’ Italie by Eugène Labiche and Marc Michel, here in an English translation of 1916 as The Leghorn Hat, is included as a DVD-ROM extra.

 
 
 

  Contents

Format: DVD-NTSC / Region 0
(No Regional Code)

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THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT (UN CHAPEAU DE PAILLE D’ITALIE)
(France, 1927)

Director: René Clair
Screenplay: René Clair, from the stage play (1851) by Eugène Labiche & Marc Michel
Cinematographer: Maurice Desfassiaux & Nicholas Roudakoff
Art Direction: Lazare Meerson
Costumes: Edouard Souplet
Assistant Directors: Georges Lacombe & Lily Jumel
Producer: Alexandre Kamenka for Films Albatross
Cast: Albert Préjean, Yvonneck, Marise Maia, Olga Tschekowa, Vital Geymond, Jim Gérald, Alex Allin, Paul Ollivier. Louis Pré fils, Alexis Bondireff, Alice Tissot, André Volbert, Léon Courtois, Mlle. Chouqette & Valentine Tessier

• 105 minutes
• B&W, Tinted

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 Bonus Material

EIFFEL TOWER (LA TOUR )
(France, 1928)

Director: René Clair

• 12 minutes
• B&W, Tinted

FUN AFTER THE WEDDING (NOCE EN GOGUETTE)
(France, 1907)

Director: Ferdinand Zecca.

• 9 minutes
• B&W, Tinted

• 1851 play Un Chapeau de paille d'Italie by Eugène Labiche & Marc Michel.

     _________________________________________
     _________________________________________

Total Running Time: 02:06:00

Language: English intertitles

Musical Score: The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and Phillip Carli

Booklet Text: Lenny Borger & Iris Barry

Published By: Flicker Alley

Institutional Price: $250 (plus shipping)

To order call: 212.280.8654 or click here for information on ordering by fax, e-mail or post.