The Crank: ‘The Man on the Eiffel Tower’ Program Notes (4/25/13 Screening)

The Crank is a graduate student organization that runs weekly screenings of the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s extensive holdings. The Crank shows films that either are not widely available on video or are such spectacular specimens of nitrate and celluloid that merely to see them on a television set would be a crime both to the student of film and to the canon of film history.

When Jean Renoir viewed a print of The Man on the Eiffel Tower, he said, “These are pictures of Paris you can never photograph again.” Upon its release, Burgess Meredith’s directorial debut was lauded for its equally unique and unprecedented images of postwar 1940s Paris. Whether exploring the city streets, scrambling upon rooftops, or balancing atop the Eiffel Tower, the cat-and-mouse game between Charles Laughton’s Inspector Maigret and Franchot Tone’s devious Johann Radek provides a thrilling story set against a picturesque background.

While Meredith is credited as the sole director of the film, his role as a knife-grinding murder suspect allowed for others to take the helm. A friend of Meredith, Laughton took up direction when he stepped in front of the camera. Likewise, in the few scenes where both Laughton and Meredith appear, it was Franchot Tone who sat in the director’s chair. While the multiple directors brought the risk of creating a hodgepodge of styles, the common vision of the three friends, along with the always collaborative pre-planning created a consistent, fun, and thrilling picture. Continue reading “The Crank: ‘The Man on the Eiffel Tower’ Program Notes (4/25/13 Screening)” »