Is Paris Burning?

Is Paris Burning?

4.0 2
Director: René Clément

Cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Charles Boyer, Leslie Caron


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This DVD is one of the great, unheralded pleasures in the Paramount Home Video output -- unheralded because Rene Clement's Is Paris Burning? is sure to fall through the cracks of many viewers' lists, never a popular favorite in the manner of such films as In Harm's Way, The Longest Day, or Patton, but not a recognized classic, or even a…  See more details below


This DVD is one of the great, unheralded pleasures in the Paramount Home Video output -- unheralded because Rene Clement's Is Paris Burning? is sure to fall through the cracks of many viewers' lists, never a popular favorite in the manner of such films as In Harm's Way, The Longest Day, or Patton, but not a recognized classic, or even a highly regarded foreign title. And that's a pity, because it is one of the best movies of it genre and era -- shot in black-and-white and utilizing a documentary style approach for much of its length, the movie manages to tell the personal stories of several characters while weaving the much larger tale of the survival of the City of Lights, despite Hitler's vow (and direct order) to destroy it rather than let it be taken by the Allies. The first 35 minutes are totally engrossing as well as heartbreaking to watch, as we see the deportation of Jews, political undesirables, and suspected anti-Nazis, and the gradually rising torment and troubles of the German general (played by Gert Frobe) charged with destroying the city -- the quiet preparations of the citizenry for the liberation of the city, and the efforts of the Germans to contain the "problem." The disc is well transferred, so much so that all of the flaws in the authentic documentary footage is visible -- that's not as annoying, however, as the decision to shoot the film in an anamorphic process, which means that the period footage must be cropped at the top and bottom to make it match the widescreen image of the rest of the film. It all works, but it is a distraction at first. Another flaw in the original conception of the movie that becomes clear here is the decision to dub all of the dialogue -- one is drawn into the visual presentation of the movie and then some obvious English dubbing partly breaks the spell; as an alternative for those who truly resonated to the movie and its intent, Paramount should have prepared a version that was in the actors' original languages (principally French and German) and put in subtitles. The chaptering is generous and well-placed, though with a movie of this length, the producers could easily have gone to 40 or 50 breaks without seeming excessive. The score, by Maurice Jarre, is presented in glittering detail and works well, even when it starts to sound like his music from Dr. Zhivago. A trailer has been included, which shows what a hard time the producers had selling the movie to entertainment-minded Americans -- this reviewer found the whole thing so engrossing that he wanted to watch it again right after it was finished. One also sort of wishes that Paramount had seen fit to do a commentary track -- the sheer size of the production, the renown of the director, the core performances, and the subject matter (addressed around the same time as the release by Robert Gildea in Marianne In Chains) are compelling enough to justify it.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
[monaural, Dolby Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]

Special Features

Closed Caption; Widescreen version enhanced for 16:9 TVs; English Subtitles; Dolby Digital:; -English 5.1 Surround;; English Dolby Surround; French Mono

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jean-Paul Belmondo Morandot/Pierreflot
Charles Boyer Monod
Leslie Caron Francoise Labe
George Chakiris G.I. in Tank
Gert Fröbe Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz
Jean-Pierre Cassel Lt. Henri Karcher
Kirk Douglas Gen. George Patton
Anthony Perkins Sgt. Warren
Simone Signoret Cafe Proprietress,Patronne du bistrot
Orson Welles Consul Raoul Nordling
Glenn Ford Gen. Omar Bradley
Yves Montand Marcel Bizien
Robert Stack Gen. Edwin Sibert
Marie Versini Claire Morandat
Skip Ward GI with Warren
Bruno Cremer Col. Rol Tanguy
Claude Dauphin Colonel Lebel
Pierre Dux Parodi/Cerat
Billy Frick Adolf Hitler
Daniel Gélin Yves Bayet
Michel Piccoli Edgar Pisani
Sacha Pitoeff Joliot-Curie
Claude Rich Gen. Jacques Leclerc
Jean-Louis Trintignant Capt. Serge
Pierre Vaneck Maj. Roger Gallois
Alain Delon Jacques Chaban-Delmas
Georges Claisse Intern with Monod
Suzy Delair A Parisienne
Georges Géret Cmdr. George
Claus Holm Huhm
Jean-Pierre Honore Alain Perpezat
Peter Jacob Gen. Burgdorf
Billy Kearns Patton Aide
Michel Lonsdale Debu-Bridel
Maria Machado Stella
E.G. Marshall Intelligence Officer Powell
Felix Marten Landrieu
Pierre Mirat Cafe Proprietor
Del Negro Officer with Chaban-Delmas
Georges Poujouly Landrieux
Michel Puterflam Laffont
Serge Rousseau Col. Fabien
Jean-Pierre Zola Cpl. Mayer
Pascal Fardoulis Gilet
Ernst F. Furbringer von Boineburg
Clara Gansard Wife of Col. Rol
Joelle Latour Young Girl with Warren
Aime DeMarch Roland Pre
Henia Suchar Prefecture Switchboard Operator
Jo Warfield Major with Chaban-Delmas
Karl Otto Alberty SS tapisserie de Bayeux
Pierre Collet Policier resistant
Paul Crauchet Le cure
Hubert DeLapparent Huissier Matignon
Michel Etcheverry Prefet Luizet
Bernard Fresson Liaison Agent
Joachim Hansen Commandant prison de Fresnes
Roger Lumont "Jade Amicol"
Günter Meisner Commandant SS Pantin
Hannes Messemer General Jodl
Harry Meyen Lieutenant von Arnim
Peter Neusser SS tapisserie de Bayeux
Wolfgang Preiss Capt. Ebernach
Albert Remy Le Gendarme
Jean-Michel Rouziere Monsieur au chien
Helmut Schneider Adjudant allemand metro
Georges Staquet Capt. Dronne
Jean Valmont F.F.I. bazooka
Konrad Georg Von Model
Jean Negroni Villon

Technical Credits
René Clément Director
Jean Aurenche Screenwriter
Yves Boisset Asst. Director
Pierre Bost Screenwriter
Claude Brule Screenwriter
Aida Carange Makeup
Francis Ford Coppola Screenwriter
Michel Deruelle Makeup
Paul Graetz Producer
Marcel Grignon Cinematographer
Willy Holt Art Director
Maurice Jarre Score Composer
Robert Lawrence Editor
Robert MacDonald Special Effects
Beate von Molo Screenwriter
Marcel Moussy Screenwriter
Pierre Nourry Costumes/Costume Designer
Paul Pollard Special Effects
Gore Vidal Screenwriter
Roger Volper Set Decoration/Design
Louis Wipf Production Manager
Jean Zay Costumes/Costume Designer

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening Legend [:38]
2. The New Commander [6:44]
3. French Uprising [7:50]
4. Destruction Plans [3:03]
5. Free Bernard Labe [12:11]
6. Political Prisoners [6:02]
7. Gestapo Trick [9:08]
8. Paris Fights Back [9:32]
9. Nazi's Attack [12:28]
10. Cease Fire [7:58]
11. Mission to Normandy [1:35]
12. American Allies [2:46]
13. A Plea to Save Paris [4:41]
14. A Gift for the Fuhrer [7:12]
15. New Council [7:44]
16. Intermission [5:20]
17. General Bradley's Order [1:39]
18. Soldier's Homecoming [:55]
19. City Bell's Ring [5:58]
20. Battle in the Streets [3:09]
21. Surrender [6:35]

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Is Paris Burning? 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
REKNY More than 1 year ago
This film was released in the mid 60's, on the heels of Collins and Lapierre's chronicle of the Allied capture of Paris. It has been years since I read the book, so I cannot vouch for its accuracy, or for the accuracy of the movie. On the other hand, the script, by Coppola and Vidal, hews closely enough to historical fact. There is suspense, wonderful acting by an all-star cast, great visuals that intersperse newsreel footage with movie footage, a wonderful Jarre score; in other words, a great film. One drawback: there are no notes, so younger viewers may not know the cast. On the other hand, the performances speak for themselves......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago