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These long-unavailable French comedies are a welcome addition to the Criterion pantheon...
Criterion / 413 Minutes / 1962-1971 / Unrated / Street Date: April 23, 2013
It’s quite common for Criterion to liberate important older films from dusty vaults with brand-new high-def editions that breathe new life into them, but editions like Pierre Étaix are of particular note. The films included on this Blu-ray set haven’t just been in poor shape for a while – they’ve been impossible to find. There have been bootleg versions here and there, but legal issues have prevented the French icon’s works from getting the full-fledged releases they so richly deserve… until now.
Pierre Étaix is a compilation that showcases the fascinating 1960s magic that the filmmaker’s bumbling on-screen persona was able to deliver. It’s easy to connect dots from Étaix back to Tati and, of course, Buster Keaton, but there’s a goofiness to his presence in these works that is as marvelously compelling as it is unique. Of course, a modern audience at large might not have exceptional interest in a relatively obscure compilation like this one, but any viewer with a penchant for old-fashioned comedy will find some marvelous material here. Criterion has truly opened our eyes to a master. Bravo.
Films included: The Suitor (1943), Yoyo (1965), As Long as You’ve Got Your Health (1966), Le grand amour (1969), Land of Milk and Honey (1971), and three shorts: Rupture, Happy Anniversary, and Feeling Good.