Jean Renoir

It. tit.: Boudu salvato dalle acque; Sog.: dalla commedia di René Fauchois; Scen.: Jean Renoir, Albert Valentin; F.: Marcel Lucien; Mo.: Suzanne de Troeye, Marguerite Houllé Renoir; Scgf.: Jean Castanier, Hugues Laurent; Mu.: Johann Strauss (Le Beau Danube bleu), Jean Boulze (flauto), Édouard Dumoulin (organino), Léo Daniderff (Les Fleurs du jardin chaque soir ont du chagrin); Su: Igor B. Kalinowski; Int.: Michel Simon (Boudu), Charles Granval (Édouard Lestingois), Marcelle Hainia (Emma Lestingois), Sévérine Lerczinska (Anne Marie), Jean Gehret (Vigour), Max Dalban (Godin), Jean Dasté (student), Jacques Becker (poet), Georges d’Arnoux (wedding guest), Régine Lutèce (streetwalker), Jane Pierson (Rose, the neighbour), Geneviève Cadix (little girl); Prod.: Michel Simon per Les Films Sirius/Michel Simon Productions; Pri. pro.: 11 novembre 1932. 35mm. D.: 84’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Boudu Sauvé des Eaux is a film dominated by a body, the solid yet light one of the talented Michel Simon, alias Boudu the tramp, who possesses the catastrophic vitality of a child paired with a boundless sexual appetite. Saved from drowning to death through the generosity of the bookseller Lestingois, a middle-class bon vivant, and given hospitality at his comfortable home on the Seine embankment, Boudu returns the favour by disrupting the peaceful rhythms of daily life, ruining Lestingois’ affair with a young housemaid and spitting on the pages of a rare edition of Balzac’s Physiologie du Mariage. His relationship with things and their value, with rules in good manners and courtesy, is based upon blissful and animal-like indifference, and his presence in the house brings with it filthiness, disarray and chaos. Boudu is the embodiment of an anarchic corporality that is not in the least reassuring. He is indifferent to gratitude and propriety, yet does not lose his childlike innocence even when taking advantage of Mme. Lestingois, who has been neglected by her husband for some time. After the disaster of La Chienne, Renoir attacked middle-class marital order with undaunted and devastating irony, filming with a freedom and lightness that heralded the approaches found in the Nouvelle Vague (also in the choice of real outdoor settings). The story was inspired by a successful play by René Fauchois, overturning however its entire meaning: as a matter of fact in the original Boudu let himself be tamed to middle-class life, while in the film he capsizes the boat he was crossing the Seine on with the wedding party, making them fall in the water and returning to his freedom as a vagrant. Fauchois cried out that his work had been distorted and the Paris Prefect of Police requested that some scenes be cut. Renoir and Simon (also producer of the film) refused and the movie was temporarily banned. Nevertheless, the fuss was good for its commercial success. Michel Simon had performed in the play on stage and it was this actor who inspired Renoir to make the film: “It was like lighting out of the blue – I saw Michel Simon in the tramp’s shoes… Simon wasn’t simply a vagrant among the others, he was all the vagrants in the world”.

Roberto Chiesi

Copy From

Restoration that includes scenes that were cut in the original, done by Pathé in association with the laboratories L’immagine Ritrovata (Bologne) and Digimage (Paris)