This article draws upon statistical research in film editing to examine how René Clair’s Sous les toits de Paris (1930) exemplified the transnational aspect of cinema circa 1930. By transnational I mean elements of style and technique, and ways of combining these, that films made in one country are likely to have shared with those made in others at roughly the same time. The analysis entails a succession of shifts in context whereby Sous les toits de Paris is examined relative to editing statistics drawn from a database of 390 films made in France, Germany, Britain, and the United States during 1928–1933. Locating Sous les toits de Paris in transnational, national, studio, and auteur contexts, I outline how films made for export in the early 1930s tend to differ stylistically from films aimed at a single national market alone. Export films such as Sous les toits de Paris, my research suggests, exhibit, on average, more running time devoted to action rather than speech, more reaction shots during speaking and singing scenes, less dialogue overall, more post-synchronized sound, and a higher number of shots overall than did many French sound films of the time. An investigation into the transnational dimension of the style of Sous les toits de Paris – its status as a French cinema classic notwithstanding – brings to the fore how this film exemplified the period’s export cinema while departing from the mainstream cinema of early 1930s France – intended mainly for home consumption rather than export.

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Keywords Editing, René clair, Statistics, Studio, Style, Transnational
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Journal Studies in French Cinema
O’Brien, C. (Charles). (2009). Sous les toits de paris and transnational film style: An analysis of film editing statistics. Studies in French Cinema, 9(2), 11–125. doi:10.1386/sfc.9.2.111_1