Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Boudu Saved from Drowning

Based on the play Rene Fauchois, Boudu sauve` des eaux (Boudu Saved from Drowning) is the story of a Parisian tramp who is saved by a rich and kind bookseller only to create chaos into the man’s life. Written for the screen and directed by Jean Renoir, the film is a man’s life being changed when he tries to be generous and help another man where it would force him to see some of the fallacies of his kindness. Starring Michel Simon, Charles Granval, Marcelle Hainia, Severine Lerczinska, Jean Gehret, Max Dalban, Jacques Becker, and Jean Daste. Boudu sauve` des eaux is a witty and engaging film from Jean Renoir.

The film follows a tramp whose dog had suddenly ran off as he attempts suicide by drowning himself on a river only to be saved by an upper-middle class bookseller who takes him in. It’s a film that is an exploration into generosity and some of its fallacies where this kind man is trying to be a good person and help someone in need but he’s unaware that the man he saved is kind of an anarchist of sorts who isn’t interested in change. Jean Renoir’s screenplay follows the life of the bookseller Edouard Lestingois (Charles Granval) who is a good man but is having an affair with his housemaid Chloe Anne Marie (Severine Lerczinska) whom he’s fond of as his marriage to Emma (Marcella Hainia) has lost some steam. When he saves this tramp named Boudu (Michel Simon), he just wants to help but Boudu is baffled by this kindness as he’s not comfortable sleeping on a bed nor is used to eating with utensils and have manners. Plus, he become attracted to Chloe as well as Emma where it would create chaos at home.

Renoir’s direction is very straightforward with some aspects of style as it relates to elements of silent cinema such as the early scenes with Boudu and his dog. Shot in and around locations in Paris, the film play into this world of class difference as it’s something Boudu is kind of on the outs with the world of the middle and upper class. One notable scene is where he asks a policeman about finding his dog as that policeman would go find a dog whose owner is an upper class woman. When Boudu is taken in by Lestingois and be given fine suits and other things expected in the middle-upper class world. He is taken aback by it as it’s something he’s not familiar with where Renoir has him framed often in the background whenever Lestingois is talking about him to other people where Renoir’s usage of medium shots and close-ups play into its intimacy.

The direction also feature some wide shots for the scenes set in Paris where it does feel like a world that is dominated by people of the upper and middle class instead of the poor or the working-class as Renoir doesn’t shine a lot on that spectrum of the world. The direction has Renoir use some unique camera movements which includes a scene near the end as it relates to the new world that Boudu is in where everyone is having a good time but Boudu feels bored by it. Even as it he showcases scenes of Boudu being rambunctious and flirtatious towards Chloe and Emma to express his own free spirit as his presence would change some of the things around Lestingois and the people around him. Especially in the way they see the world and cope with the flaws of their own lifestyle as well as the idea of generosity which also prove to have its flaws. Overall, Renoir creates a compelling yet delightful film about a tramp who is saved by a rich bookseller and taken into a world of etiquette and prestige.

Cinematographers Marcel Lucien and Georges Asselin do brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white photography as it help play into the beauty of the daytime exteriors as well as the low-key scenes set at night. Editors Marguerite Houlle and Suzanne de Troye do excellent work with the editing as it is very straightforward with some rhythmic cuts to play into some of the film’s humor. The set design by Jean Castanier and Hugues Laurent is fantastic for the look of the book store that Lestingois lives and works at as well as some of the exteriors in the park that Boudu would often go to.

The sound work of Igor Kalinowski is terrific for its approach to natural sound as well in some of the moments that play inside Lestingois’ home. The film’s wonderful music soundtrack features opening and closing themes by Leo Daniderff that is mainly some light-hearted orchestral pieces with soundtrack contributions from Johann Strauss and original pieces by flautist J. Boulze who appears in the film as well as orpheon music by Edouard Dumoulin.

The film’s superb cast feature some notable small roles from Jacques Becker as a park bench poet, Jean Gehret and Max Dalban as a couple of Lestingois’ friends, and Jean Daste as a student trying to buy a book from Lestingois. Severine Lerczinska is brilliant as Chloe Anne Marie as a housemaid/clerk who is a mistress of Lestingois as she is fascinated and repulsed by Boudu as she reluctantly gives in to his charms. Marcelle Hainia is excellent as Emma Lestingois as a bored housewife who is the most reluctant to have Boudu in her home as she would be seduced by his charms. Charles Granval is amazing as Edouard Lestingois as this bookseller who is a man that does good as he tries to do what is right only to have his life be disrupted by this tramp and deal with the implications of bringing him to his home. Finally, there’s Michel Simon in a phenomenal performance as Priape Boudu as this tramp that is despondent over losing his dog as he copes for companionship where he’s later taken in by a bookseller as he struggles to look and feel clean as well as the expectations of upper-middle class society as he brings a lot of humor and liveliness to her performance.

Boudu sauve` des eaux is an incredible film from Jean Renoir that features a tremendous performance from Michel Simon. Along with a great supporting cast, a captivating premise, and some very funny moments. The film is definitely one of Renoir’s richest and most entertaining films in his illustrious career. In the end, Boudu sauve` des eaux is a sensational film from Jean Renoir.

Related: (Down and Out in Beverly Hills)

Jean Renoir Films: (Backbiters) - (La Fille de l’eau) - (Charleston Parade) - (Une vie sans joie) - (Marquitta) - (The Sad Sack) - (The Tournament) - (The Little Match Girl) - (Le Bled) - (On purge bebe) - (Isn’t Life a Bitch?) - (Night at the Crossroads) - (Chotard & Company) - (Madame Bovary (1933 film)) - (Toni) - Partie de campagne - (Life Belongs to Us) - (The Lower Depths (1936 film)) - (The Crime of Monsieur Lange) - Grand Illusion - (La Marseillaise) - La bete humaine - Rules of the Game - (Swamp Water) - (This Land is Mine) - (Salute to France) - (The Southerner) - (The Diary of a Chambermaid (1945 film)) - (The Woman on the Beach) - The River (1951 film) - (The Golden Coach) - (French Cancan) - (Elena and Her Men) - (The Doctor’s Horrible Experiment) - (Picnic on the Grass) - (The Elusive Corporal) - (The Little Theater of Jean Renoir)

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