Friday, February 9, 2024

Uptown samedi soir

I don't normally intend to do a pair of movies with similar themes in close proximity. Sometimes, however, I happen to watch a pair of movies that have a commonish theme. A foreign film that I had on my DVR for a while before finally getting around to watching it was the French film Le Million.

The movie opens up with a musical number of people dancing late one evening. A couple of guys who are disturbed by the partying going on show up on the roof of the apartment building looking throught the skylight at the dancers, which is how they're noticed. One of the leaders of the dancers then informs the two men that they're about to hear the fabulous story of how all these people came to be dancing together, which means it's time for that most inventive film technqiue, the flashback....

The space in which everyobdy was dancing is the apartment and studio of the artist Michel, who has a kinda-sorta fiancée in the form of Béatrice who lives across the hall. Meanwhile, he's also got a sort of mistress in Vanda. If that's not bad enough, Michel also has all sorts of financial problems in that he's got one creditor after another coming after him to collect money he owes them. And a thief shows up in their building causing all kinds of havoc as the police come rushing in to try to catch the thief. Who wants that much drama in their lives?

But things are about to change for the better. Michel's roommate Prosper comes in with a newspaper announcing the winning ticket in the Dutch lottery. Somehow Prosper remembers the numbers of the tickets the two bought and that one of the two of them has the winning ticket. That winner just happens to be Michel, not Proper. But, there's one catch. Michel had put the ticket in one of his overcoats for safe keeping, and he can't find that coat. Sound familiar?

At least Michel is able to remember that he gave the coat to Béatrice to mend it, so it's a simple matter to go over to her place and retrieve the coat. Except remember that thief the police were chasing through the building? Béatric lent him the coat as a sort of disguise so that he'd be able to escape. And so starts a journey through the streets of Paris to try to find that coat, which like the check in the short The Grand Bounce goes through one set of hands after another.

It's easy to see why a lot of viewers find Le Million a charming little movie. However, there's one big caveat to this, which is that the movie is a musical. I don't just mean this in the sense of musicals not necessarily being to everybody's taste; more than that, it's a musical in what for most readers of this blog will be a foreign language. I think even more than regular dialogue, the poetic nature of lyrics is something that loses some of its punch in translation.

But you really shouldn't let that stop you, since Le Million is really quite fun.

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