Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932) – Jean Renoir

DK Books brings me to an old film from Jean Renoir as I move onto the next title in The Movie Book. Having previously covered 1939’s The Rules of the Game, I moved right on to the What Else to Watch section of the title, and while other titles on the list had already been covered, or will be, this one was something I had never heard of.

A tramp, Boudu (Michel Simon) is rescued from the waters of the Seine by a shopkeeper, Mr. Lestingois (Charles Granval). He brings the man home, like any good person would, providing him food and shelter.

Unfortunately, his wife, Emma (Marcella Haina) as well as his maid/mistress, Chloe (Severine Lerczinska) are less than impressed. His rude, crass, lustful, smelly, and dirty.

There are some surprisingly funny moments. Sure, the film is hailed as a comedy, but things have changed over the decades. Happily, a lot of it still works.

Despite being a vagrant, once he’s settling into Lestingois’ home, he becomes rather demanding, as well as downright lecherous where young Chloe is concerned. With everything the family tries to do for him, it may have been better for them to let the old guy drown.

Those his motivations for doing so, were rather poignant.


There is a bit of a class study at work here, and its hilarious watch Boudu interfere with the open secrets that populate the house, and also make judgements on all the accoutrements of a solid middle class household.

Of course, not all of it is handled as well as it could be, there’s a very troubling scene where it’s made apparent that Boudu rapes Letingois’ wife and it’s incredibly disturbing. He also works on seducing Chloe.

It’s all very unusual and troubling. And even more troubling when Emma throws herself into his arms a week later!

The ending sees Boudu marrying the maid, who seems happy with the turnout, especially since the vagrant is now a rich man, but at the climax of the wedding, Boudu makes an escape fom a boat, returning to his simpler life.

Manners, and social structures are skewered throughout the film, but the not all of it works some of it is very entertaining, and it definitely illustrates how the times have changed in storytelling, but that one scene jarred me right out of the film.

Still, it’s a film that until DK Canada came along with their The Movie Book, I had never even heard of. So at least my film education continues!!

What’s next?


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