Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Clair, René

(1898-1981) French moviemaker primarily remembered as the director who adapted French comedy for the talkies. His first movie was Paris Qui Dort (1923; vt Le Rayon Invisible; vt The Crazy Ray), which he directed and wrote; in it a mad scientist uses an invisible ray to paralyze Paris. Other early fantasies were Le Voyage Imaginaire (1925) and Le Fantôme du Moulin-Rouge (1926); in the latter an unhappy lover learns how to leave his body and, invisible, plays practical jokes all over Paris. RC moved to the UK to make The Ghost Goes West (1935), a comic Ghost Story. After the non-fantasy Break the News (1938) RC went to Hollywood, where his movies included I Married a Witch (1942) – based on The Passionate Witch (1941) by Thorne Smith and Norman Matson – in which the ghosts of a Witch and a sorcerer haunt the descendant of one of their persecutors, and It Happened Tomorrow (1944), in which an old man habitually shows a youthful reporter what tomorrow's headlines will be, so that he can scoop the competition, which is all fine until he sees his own death reported. Returning after WWII to France RC made, among others: Le Silence est d'Or (1947; vt Man About Town), a tribute to silent movies; the unsuccessful La Beauté du Diable (1949), a free adaptation of the Faust legend; and his last movie of significance, Les Belles De Nuit (1952), a comedy Time Fantasy in which a young composer's Dreams create alternate Realities. Because his late movies were generally disliked, RC fell out of favour for some while, but since his death much of his work has been "rediscovered". [JG]

René Clair


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.