The Italian Straw Hat

Directed by René Clair. Musical Director: Günter A. Buchwald
  • France
  • 1hr 45mins
  • 1928

In association with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, ADIFF has announced screenings of the silent films, Behind the Door (accompanied by live piano) and The Italian Straw Hat (accompanied by live quartet) as part of this year’s Silent Cinema programme.

A man is on his way to his wedding when his horse eats the hat of a married woman who is having a secret tryst with a soldier, and the hapless groom must replace the chapeau or face the wrath of the lady’s lover. René Clair’s sublime, kinetic farce is set in 1895, at the dawn of the film era, and fondly recalls the techniques of the earliest silents. Pauline Kael called it “one of the funniest films ever made, and one of the most elegant as well.”

For years it has been difficult, if not impossible, to see the original version of René Clair’s masterful The Italian Straw Hat. Instead, viewers have had to be satisfied with either the alternate version that was released in the United States in 1931, or hybrids that supplement the American version with additional footage. This brand new restoration brings Clair’s original French version to modern audiences using the finest original material possible: the film’s original camera negative and original French title negative, both of which are preserved at the Cinémathèque Française.

Live musical accompaniment by the Guenter Buchwald Ensemble: Matthew Jacobson, Nick Roth, Derek Whyte. 

ONE OF RENÉ CLAIR’S BEST LOVED FILMS ‘THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT’ IS A HIGHLY KINETIC SATIRICAL FARCE BUT ALSO A WARM AND SWEET FILM THAT WILL CHARM AUDIENCES EVERYWHERE.

Gráinne Humphreys, Festival Director

Alice Tissot
Alexis Bondireff
Marise Maia