The Fine Arts Theatre reopened its doors this week with a French talking movie called "Sous Les Toits de Paris". The production is chiefly interesting as a basis of comparison with American films.
The plot develops around the life of a street singer, Albert, --a life with little moments of greatness and hours of drabness. It is a very conventional story of a man who loved a woman and lost her to his best friend. There is little in this situation to lift it above the American musical comedy, but direction and photography do much to redeem its fragile motivation.
More interesting than the tale itself are the individual scenes which are handled with a finesse seldom seen in native productions. The opening sequence finds Albert singing to a group of tenement dwellers. There is an attention to detail and a depth of feeling which lends dramatic power to this prosaic gathering. At another time Albert is in his room, filling a shabby suitcase with little gifts for the girl he is to marry, but is interrupted by the arrival of the police. Here again is a trite situation, which becomes significant through deft and sympathetic handling. Nor is the movie without humor; a fight scene which might well have been heavy and conventional is a delightful parody. Most French, if not most effective, was the bed-room sequence, which the director handles with his tongue in his cheek.
The picture as a whole gains much in the beauty of the language and from the restraint with which the sound effects are handled. As a result one is left with a delightful, if incomplete, picture of the humbler quarters of Paris.