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Film / Le Million

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Le Million is a French musical comedy from 1931, directed by René Clair.

Michel is a poor artist in Paris, so broke that not only is he behind on his rent, every shopkeeper in the neighborhood is after him for unpaid bills. It seems like his troubles are over when his friend Prosper comes running into the apartment building to tell Michel that Michel's Dutch lottery ticket hit for a million florins. However, it turns out Michel's girlfriend Beatrice gave away Michel's coat, which had the ticket inside. A petty thief, Grandpa Tulip, ran into Beatrice's apartment to hide from the cops, and she gave him the coat to aid in his escape. Grandpa Tulip in turn sold the coat to an opera singer, Ambrosio Sopranelli, who plans to wear it in his performance. A madcap chase for the coat ensuses, filled with greed, comic misunderstandings, romance, and plenty of songs.


  • Answer Song: Grandpa Tulip's gang of thieves sings a song about how they're the agents of property redistribution. The next scene shows the cops, who sing a song to the same tune about how they're the agents of law and order.
  • Crowd Song: Happens many times—a gang of thieves sing a song, the cops sing a song, all the folks in Michel's apartment building sing a song.
  • Dance Party Ending: A big dance number as the film ends.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: A single afternoon and evening as Michel, Prosper, and others go on a frantic search for the coat.
  • Follow That Car: The gang of thieves, who figure out that something must be special about the coat, chase after Michel's taxi after he leaves the opera house.
  • Greed: Michel and Prosper each got a lottery ticket. When they don't know who won, Prosper refuses to split the prize if he wins. Later Prosper pretends not to know Michel, thus leaving Michel stuck in jail, so Prosper can go get the coat himself.
  • Happy Ending: Just when Michel is in the depths of despair, Grandpa Tulip returns and gives him the coat and ticket.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with two people peeking in a window and demanding to know why everyone is so happy and making so much noise, as the main cast dances with joy. The film then cuts back to the beginning of the story.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: The thieves believe this, although they aren't shown spreading the wealth to anyone but themselves.
  • MacGuffin: The lottery ticket is the thing the characters pursue, but it doesn't affect the plot beyond that.
  • Mistaken Identity: Michel, who has gone to the shop where Grandpa Tulip and company fence their stolen goods, is arrested on suspicion that he is Grandpa Tulip. This complicates his efforts to retrieve the coat.
  • The Musical
  • The Musical Musical: Not at first. But much of the third act of the film takes place at Ambrosio's opera house and features songs being performed in the opera.
  • Roof Hopping: Grandpa Tulip is introduced doing this as he flees from the police. He eventually drops into Beatrice's apartment.
  • Silence Is Golden: Director Rene Clair was, like Charlie Chaplin in America, no fan of talking films, believing film to be a visual medium. He took advantage of talkies by making this film a musical, but parts of it, including almost all of the crazy chase for the coat at the opera house, is shot like a silent film with overlaid soundtrack.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: Accompanies every Crowd Song (see above).
  • Spoof Aesop: The movie ends with a cheerful song about how all problems can be solved by throwing money at them and anyone who claims otherwise is just jealous or bitter.
  • Starving Artist: Michel is flat broke.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Michel and Beatrice, hiding behind scenery at the opera, embrace each other as Ambrosio and the female singer perform a duet that perfectly matches Michel and Beatrice's situation.
  • Title Drop: The million florins!