The Italian Straw Hat
René Clair went on to become one of the most respected comedic directors of the early sound era with such international classics as Le Million and And Then There Were None, but he would always profess a great love for the silent films on which he cut his teeth. The Italian Straw Hat (1927), which feels a little labored at first but gradually builds to a Marx Brothers level of choreographed hilarity, showcases many of the same concerns as Clair's later sound work. Here, Fadinard (Albert Préjean), en route to his own wedding, happens upon an unusual hat perched on a branch, which his horse then proceeds to eat. From the woods emerges the woman to whom the hat belonged and her enraged suitor, the latter demanding a replacement be found lest the woman's husband discover their infidelity. The convoluted quest for said replacement continuously threatens to disrupt Fadinard's nuptials. As in Le Million, where a winning lottery ticket changes hands countless times before being recovered, the quest for a single object inspires much mayhem. As in most of Clair's films, bourgeois values get a constant ribbing.