France, Take Down The Barricades

It's not easy to render into colloquial French the phrase "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." But that's just what budding French media tycoon Jean-Marie Messier is aiming to do with his planned $31 billion takeover of Seagram Co. For years, the French--the most film-obsessed nation in the world--have seen U.S. movie outfits such as Seagram's Universal Studios Inc. produce hit after hit, while French cinema has languished. No wonder there has been griping about American cultural imperialism.

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