Le Million - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Le Million Reviews

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August 8, 2016
Sheer delight

In Le Million, Rene Clair, one of the cinema's great directors and great pioneers, created a gem of light comedy which for all its lightness is a groundbreaking and technically brilliant film which clearly influenced subsequent film-makers such as the Marx Brothers, Lubitsch, and Mamoulian. The plot, a witty story of a poor artist who wins a huge lottery jackpot but has to search frantically all over town for the missing ticket, is basically just a device to support a series of wonderfully witty comic scenes enacted in a dream world of the director's imagination.

One of the most impressive things about this film is that, though it is set in the middle of Paris and includes nothing actually impossible, it achieves a sustained and involving fairy-tale/fantasy atmosphere, in which it seems quite natural that people sing as much as they talk, or that a tussle over a stolen jacket should take on the form of a football game. Another memorable element is that Le Million includes what may be the funniest opera ever put on film (O that blonde-braided soprano! "I laugh, ha! ha!") Also a delight is the casting: Clair has assembled a group of amazing, sharply different character actors, each of them illustrating with deadly satiric accuracy a bourgeois French "type," so that the film seems like a set of Daumier prints come to life.

The hilarity takes a little while to get rolling, and I found the characters not as emotionally engaging as they can be even in a light comedy (as they are, for instance, in many Lubitsch films.) For these reasons I refrained from giving it the highest rating. But these minor cavils shouldn't distract from an enthusiastic recommendation.

Should you see it? By all means. Highly recommended whether you want a classic and influential work of cinema or just a fun comedy. The Criterion DVD is good quality, though the print could have been better, but I assume they used the best available.
½ August 21, 2014
A penniless artist discovers he just won the lottery but left his ticket in his jacket which was in turn unknowingly given away by his fiancee to a...well, that's just giving away the movie. Among all of Rene Clair's 1930's musical comedies, this one is by far my favorite. It's got the best music (still not memorable but better than the other two), it's got the most laughs and it's the most well-directed. It's somewhat comparable to Preston Sturges, if I'm being all film geeky about it. You'll be surprised at how much fun you will have watching this black and white 1930's French film. I couldn't recommend it enough.
April 4, 2014
A poor artist goes on a hilarious adventure trying to procure his old jacket with the winning lottery ticket in the pocket.
July 23, 2013
A brilliant lighthearted musical comedy that is one of the early films to be shot in sound. It's directed with panache by René Clair.
½ June 14, 2013
Yes, this is a merry romp, crossing heroically into the sound era with aplomb (but still retaining many fond elements of the silent film days). René Lefèvre (also the star of Le Crime de M. Lange by Renoir) wins the Dutch lottery but leaves his ticket in his jacket pocket which is "borrowed" by master criminal Grandpa Tulip and then changes hands a fair few times, resulting in a wild chase across Paris. Very influential and even zany at times, but, for this viewer, no hearty laughs erupted. Perhaps things are just a little too pat with no wicked surprises (or true bizarrities) to shake things up. Regardless, this is a tightly constructed almost screwball comedy.
April 13, 2013
All the trappings of an early Hollywood musical . . . but in France for some reason. Part screwball comedy and part farce, this film has been imitated many times ("Lottery Ticket", "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World", etc.), but rarely surpassed.
Super Reviewer
February 14, 2013
"Le Million" starts with a couple of interlopers curious, not complaining, about the boisterous party being thrown in an apartment building in Paris. Well, that same day did not start out so well for Beatrice(Annabella), a ballerina, who comes across Michel(Rene Lefevre), who she pines for, with Wanda(Vanda Greville) in his arms, and coming to the wrong conclusion since Michel had just painted Wanda's portrait. To be honest, Michel has bigger worries, like owing half of Paris money. By comparison that is nothing compared to Grandpa Tulip(Paul Ollivier) who has half the police department chasing after him before Beatrice helps him out by loaning him Michel's tattered jacket that she was valiantly attempting to mend. And just as Michel's troubles look like they may be finally over, they are only just beginning.

"Le Million" is a delightful and funny operetta that includes references to ballet, rugby and an opera about bohemians that mirrors Michel's life. Made at the advent of sound pictures, the movie also harkens back to the golden age of silent comedies with its exquisite early double chase. In fact, the movie is one long chase, with mistaken identities rampant. Pleasantly enough, director Rene Clair shows no signs of having trouble adjusting to the new format, just as a major theme is the failure to communicate. My only serious problem is how long it takes for everybody to key in on the jacket which admittedly might just be a consequence of maybe having seen that same gag many times from more recent films.
½ September 29, 2012
Some films simply exude charm... this is one such film.
Funny to see the French imitate the uniquely American form of the musical. Of course, unlike MGM, they do it by rewarding a 'bohemian' a million dollars.

What can one say? Well acted. Beautifully written. Even the songs are outstanding.
Humor. Suspense. Excitement. ...even love. This was a home run! Live the reviewer said, a sheer delight.

Toward the end, amidst the fury for the jacket, it turns into the standard silent screwball, which was very well received.

I have to be honest...there are people who are amused by people making stupid mistakes in movies. I get furious. She gave his jacket away that had his lottery ticket!?!! If I was the author, I would have had him shoot her in the face, & end the movie at that moment. But that's probably why I'm not making movies.
July 22, 2012
A wonderful amount of fun! The sort of humor that still works today.
½ June 3, 2012
A pleasant musical comedy.
May 24, 2012
Great french musical comedy.
April 20, 2012
A jolly musical. Now i know where "a night at the opera" was inspired from.
Super Reviewer
February 21, 2012
A wonderfully funny, charming, imaginative film. Ahead of its time -- even released four years before "A Night at the Opera." Hmm.

Loved the goofy use of songs -- back then, cinema hadn't lost its innocence yet. Also loved the irregular angles of the apartment building, and the bit where the soundtrack of an onscreen group scuffle is thrown out and replaced with the ambient roar of a football game.
December 5, 2011
A winning lottery ticket has been mislaid - this musical tells of the madcap search for it with a lovely humour.
April 28, 2011
A wonderfully visual comedy from Clair. The constantly moving camera, the clever editing, and the multiplicity of angles ensure that Le Million never lacks interest, even as it stretches the bounds of its simple comic plot. Clair employs near-perfect timing in many sequences, especially the chase sequence through the apartment building, the confrontation with the singer in the coat shop, and best of all, the multi-faceted sequence at the opera. Also, the use of music adds a unique touch.
April 16, 2011
Delightful little romp that has one of the best openings ever and one of the dreamiest love scenes ever. Hells yeah.
April 8, 2011
Kind of light-hearted but pretty entertaining chase movie musical. I love watching movies that are really early talkies and comparing them. Take this one, that has a lot of energy and playful scenes (both musically and visually) to something form the same year like...Dracula which bores me far more. Tons of fun.
November 15, 2010
Very funny screwball comedy from the '30s.
November 3, 2010
An early work from the great Rene Clair. In this screwball classic a struggling artist learns he's come into the possession of a winning lottery ticket, just as he debt collectors have arrived. But the ticket is in a coat at his girlfriends, which makes its way to other people. Forget that this came out way back in 1931, because it still has the comedic goods, and is available for viewing in a wonderful Criterion DVD.
October 13, 2010
An impoverished artist discovers he has purchased a winning lottery ticket at the very moment his creditors come to collect. The only problem is, the ticket is in the pocket of his coat. . . which he left at his girlfriend's apartment. . . who gave the coat to a man hiding from the police. . . who sells the coat to an opera singer who uses it during a performance. By turns charming and inventive, Rene Clair's lyrical masterpiece had a profound impact on not only the Marx Brothers and Charlie Chaplin, but on the American musical as a whole
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