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BOUDU SAVED FROM DROWNING (Boudu sauvé des eaux) (director/writer: Jean Renoir; screenwriter: from the play by Rene Fauchois/Albert Valentin; cinematographers: Léonce-Henri Burel/Marcel Lucien; editors: Marguerite Renoir/Suzanne de Troeye; music: Léo Daniderff/Raphael; cast: Michel Simon (Boudu), Charles Granval (Edouard Lestingois), Marcelle Hainia (Emma Lestingois, his wife), Sévérine Lerczinska (Anne-Marie Chloe, his maid); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jean Gehret/Michel Simon; Grapevine Video; 1932-France-in French with English subtitles)
“Recognized for its marvelous characterizations, its splendid acting and its inventive film technique.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Jean Renoir (“Grand Illusion”/”The Rules of the Game”) directs a delightful Buñuel-like comedy of manners, mocking the bourgeois. “Boudu” is based on the play by Rene Fauchois and penned by Albert Valentin and Renoir. It’s recognized for its marvelous characterizations, its splendid acting and its inventive film technique. The film was not as successfully remade (more or less) in 1985 as Down and Out in Beverly Hills–it was less lyrical and subtle, but still enjoyable.

The slight tale has Chaplinesque tramp Boudu (Michel Simon, also produced the film) try to commit suicide by jumping into the Seine, but is saved by Parisian bookseller Edouard Lestingois (Charles Granval). The bourgeois bookseller is fascinated by the tramp’s look and takes him into his comfortable home, with the good intentions of giving the tramp a new lease on life. Once there the ungrateful tramp makes himself at home chasing after the master’s mistress, the young maid Anne-Marie Chloe (Sévérine Lerczinska), and the wife, Emma (Marcelle Hainia). The tramp disrupts the orderly household by spitting on the floor, repeatedly spilling wine on the tablecloth, and breaking the dishes. He never thanks his rescuer for saving him, buying him a suit or feeding him. When the tramp wins the national lottery, with a ticket he finds in a suit that his host gave him, he marries the gold digger maid. But Boudu literally swims away from his new fortune and middle-class life, by throwing it all away to once again become a loner tramp.

The arthouse film remains fresh even today, and can still be viewed as subversive and hilarious.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”