Italian Straw Hat, The; Horse Ate The Hat, The

966. THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT (1927-France). Directed and written by RENE CLAIR. One of the unquestionable gems of silent comedy, this rollicking farce helped establish Rene Clair’s well-deserved repuÂtation as a master of visual humor and irreverent satire. On his way to be married, the groom, Fadinard, has a fight with a soldier, who is furious because Fadinard’s horse has just chewed up a straw hat, You see, the hat’s wearer, with whom the soldier was having a tryst in the park, is a married lady, and if she doesn’t come home with the hat, her husband might suspect something. The soldier threatens to destroy Fadinard’s apartÂment, piece by piece, unless the hapless groom produces an identical hat. During the wedding ceremony and celebration, Fadinard keeps disappearing as he searches madly for another chapeau. In the meantime, the soldier begins throwing Fadinard’s valuables out of his window. The groom’s attempts to preserve all appearÂances of bourgeois propriety as he scrambles after the hat give Clair opportunities for some sharp thrusts at bourgeois manners. His inventive film-making includes slow and fast motion, stop-action animation, and lots of lively slapstick, highlighted by frantic chases a la Mack Sennett. Pauline Kael has called the film “a model of visual witÉ very simply one of the funniest films ever made and one of the most elegant as well. A silent satire on the pretensions of the middle classes, it is so expertly timed and choreographed that farce becomes ballet.” Silent film with music score, correct projection speed. 107 minutes. ÒSilentÓ Comedies