Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Suitor (1963)

Pierre Étaix deserves more respect in the film world. Of the various filmmakers from the mid-century period who specialized in physical comedy and Buster Keaton-esque formal experimentation (Frank Tashlin, Jacques Tati, Blake Edwards and Jerry Lewis leap to mind), I’d rank Étaix near the top. The fact that both Tati and Lewis saw fit to employ him as a gag writer on some of their own films should speak volumes. Of course his filmography isn’t impeccable (his 1971 documentary Land of Milk and Honey is an outright disaster) but even as early on as his admirably flawed first feature The Suitor, he was able to effortlessly pull off gags which lesser filmmakers would kill themselves trying to accomplish. Due to issues with rights, his filmography has been largely unavailable for years, but thanks to the Criterion Collection the name, “Étaix” is once again part of the cinematic conversation. Hop on the train now so that you can claim you were into him, “before it was cool.”

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