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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rene Clair's Salute To Early Cinema., 7 May 2010
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Chip Kaufmann (Asheville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
It may sound a bit odd to call a 1927 film a salute to early cinema but as silent film enthusiasts know, movies have been around since before the dawn of the 20th century. The earliest narrative films come from France in the movies of Alice Guy and Georges Melies ca. 1896 and it is those along with the films of French comedian Max Linder that Clair is channeling in THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT. The original source material is a play in the popular French farce style of domestic complications that date all the way back to Moliere. The year is 1895. A young man on his wedding day must replace a fashionable Italian straw hat which his horse has eaten or face serious consequences from a hot tempered Hussar (the hat belongs to his lover and she can't go home to her husband without it). The director takes this scenario and turns it into a sophisticated comedy of manners a la Oscar Wilde only it's done without dialogue (and very few title cards). While I found it a little too genteel and slow moving at times, THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT still remains a truly great film when you realize what Rene Clair was trying to do and how well he succeeded.

The only other version I had seen of this was an old but decent VHS copy that ran only 84 minutes. This version, at 105 minutes, is not only complete, but it adds little touches that make the film a richer experience. I was struck throughout at how much Albert Prejean (the groom) resembled Charley Chase. In fact this could have made a fine comedy vehicle for Charley. As is now expected of Flicker Alley, the transfer is first rate and the choice of two scores and an informative booklet enhance the presentation. While Philip Carli's piano score is extremely well done, I really enjoyed the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra's chamber score with its liberal use of Offenbach's TALES OF HOFFMANN and Otto Nicolai's MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR Overture. THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT is the ultimate proof that silent comedy could be sophisticated and delicate and, in the hands of a gifted director like Rene Clair, use subtle visuals to help make the story more vivid. This DVD also comes with Clair's short film on the Eiffel Tower (awe-inspiring) and a short 1907 wedding comedy from Ferdinand Zecca. A must for anyone interested in silent European cinema
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5.0 out of 5 stars Il cappello di paglia di Firenze, 7 Nov 2011
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Vittorio De Alfaro (Turin, Italie) - See all my reviews
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This silent movie is a great film. You don't realize really it is silent. The story is apparently very simple: a horse chews the straw hat of a lady in Bois de Boulogne. The accompanying gentleman requires strongly that the man who goes to marry that day finds another one. The story winds up in a series of amusing topics that are well better than gags. Only at the very end all settles and the lady goes back home as a pure lady with her straw hat, affronting a suspicious husband (who was also part in the story). A very interesting pleasant movie. If you have the opportunity, just see it!
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Italian Straw Hat [DVD] [1928] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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