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René Clair
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    (November 11, 1898-March 15, 1981)
    Born in Paris, France
    Birth name was René-Lucien Chomette
    Directed 'The Phantom of the Moulin-Rouge' (1925), 'The Prey of the Wind' (1927), 'Two Timid Souls' (1928), 'Under the Roofs of Paris' (1930), 'The Million' (1931), 'A Nous La Liberte' ('Freedom for Us,' 1933), 'The Ghost Goes West' (1935), 'I Married a Witch' (1942), 'And Then There Were None' (1945), 'The Beauty of the Devil' (1950), 'Beauties of the Night' (1952) and 'Gate of Lilacs' (1957)
    Staged Gluck's 'Orphee' at the Paris Opera (1972)
    He was a frustrated poet, novelist and actor before becoming a director.
    He called films with sound 'an unnatural creation.'
    His stylized films fell out of favor during the French 'New Wave,' with Francois Truffaut writing, 'Clair makes films for old ladies who go to the cinema twice a year.'
    He served as an ambulance driver during World War I.
    Despite his initial opposition to talking pictures, he was considered an innovator in combining sound and images, along with Ernst Lubitsch and Rouben Mamoulian.
    Charlie Chaplin was accused of copying scenes from 'A Nous la Libertie' in 'Modern Times.' (Clair, an admirer of Chaplin, declined to join when his producers sued United Artists, Chaplin's studio, for plagiarism.)
    Unlike many European exiles, he enjoyed working with American studios: 'In spite of the restrictions of the American system, it is possible, if one wishes, to take responsibility. In my four Hollywood films I managed to do what I wanted.'
    He was described in The Rough Guide to Film as 'a whimsical innovator who brought charm and wit to everything he touched.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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