17 August 2011 | MartinHafer
The star here is definitely not the plot but the expert direction.
Silent film fans are really in for a treat with this DVD. Once again, Flicker Alley has released a terrific DVD--with a nearly pristine print (very rare for a silent), some nice special features as well as two different sound tracks for this movie! Each time I see one of their films, I marvel at the amazing care they give each release--and it's the class of the industry.
"The Italian Straw Hat" is film that was a bit short on plot but is still well worth seeing. This is because the director, René Clair, did a masterful job with this movie--with great camera-work and composition throughout. Unfortunately, despite looking great the plot keeps me from giving the movie an even higher score. The problem is that although the story is entertaining, it just had too many holes--too many situations that simply were too hard to believe and could have EASILY been resolved...but weren't.
The film begins with a bridegroom traveling by horse and buggy to his wedding. On the way, he gets out and his horse keeps walking--and finds a straw hat that it begins to eat! Naturally, the lady who owned the hat was angry and her lover was ready to fight. The bridegroom tried to pay for it but the couple insisted he find a replacement hat. And, they follow him into town and continue to insist--even moving into his apartment and threatening to destroy the place unless he get an identical hat. It turns out it's because the woman is married to a different man and doesn't want to have to explain to him what happened to the hat. But why the couple squatted for many hours in the house seemed forced--and why the bridegroom didn't just go to the police made no sense either. But, it did have lots of cute and mildly funny moments--even if the story just made no sense.
Overall, the film is expertly filmed but inconsequential because of the writing. It's worth seeing if you love silents or if you want to see a silent that manages to have very, very few intertitle cards yet tells the story very well. Otherwise, there are better silents out there--even with the great Flicker Alley package.