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The Boston Globe


Local films, festivals, and faces

MFA retrospective recalls comic filmmaker Pierre Étaix

Director and actor Pierre Étaix has been praised by a who’s who of the cinema’s great directors: Truffaut, Bresson, Godard, and David Lynch have all extolled his films, which draw on the art of silent cinema. Étaix’s movies combine physical comedy with inventive sight gags and a slightly surreal visual sensibility. Yet Étaix remains largely unknown outside France. The Museum of Fine Arts’s retrospective “The Films of Pierre Étaix” runs Friday through Jan. 18 and offers local audiences an unprecedented chance to discover a neglected master of comic filmmaking. Janus Films is supplying eight new prints: five features and three shorts that Étaix produced between 1961 and 1971, all restored in 35mm. In the 1969 comic feature “The Great Love” (Friday and Saturday), Étaix imagines an affair with his young secretary to escape the monotony of working in his father-in-law’s factory. Matters of the heart also concern his 1962 feature “The Suitor” (Saturday and next Sunday). The short “Happy Anniversary,” winner of the 1963 Academy Award for best short film, about Paris traffic delaying a husband’s anniversary dinner with his wife, precedes it.

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