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Boudu Saved From Drowning [DVD] [1932] [1967]
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Turning off the water in the sink is as alien an idea to Boudu as not spitting on the dining room rug. Watching him try to clean bootblack from his hands is to watch the destruction of a kitchen. He's as oblivious to others as a strong wind blowing through a garden. One critic said the character of Boudu was like a ball in a pinball machine. Boudu (Michel Simon) is a scruffy tramp who jumps off a bridge in Paris when he loses his dog. Edouard Lestingois (Charles Granval) is a chubby, middle-aged bookseller, very much a member of the bourgeoisie, who rushes out of his shop, leaps into the river, saves Boudu and takes him into his home. Lestingois has a wife who is proper and cool. He employs a maid who is lusty and accommodating. Boudu will change their lives.

Boudu is an anarchic force of nature, stuffing his sardine dinner into his mouth with his hands and spitting his wine onto the floor. For Lestingois, who at first is pleased with himself for his heroism and with taking in such a specimen of the lower class, life becomes complicated and frustrating. He enjoys his trysts with the maid, Anne-Marie, but he recognizes he's getting a bit old. "She's charming," he says, "but last night I fell asleep before I could join her. No doubt about it, I'm growing old. My pipes are weary, and soon some shepherd will lure her with his youthful flute." Boudu, however, soon wearies of sleeping in a bed and takes to sleeping in the hall, next to Anne-Marie's door. "I get bored all alone in my room," Anne Marie tells Lestingois. "I'm not exactly jumping for joy in my room, either," he says. "Are you sorry you saved him?" she asks. "At night, I am."

Madame Lestingois, however, once Boudu is convinced to get a haircut and wear a proper suit, may not be quite the piece of ice she appears to be. When Boudu has the opportunity to closely inspect a small birthmark on Madame Lestingois' chest, well, it's not long before Madame Lestingois hears trumpets playing.

Boudu remains the same, wrapped up in his own world and with his own behavior, refusing a favor, turning back an innocent inquiry, tickling the bottom of Anne Marie, enjoying Madame Lestingois, making himself obliviously at home with Edouard Lestingois. He's a natural force that can't be controlled and, for some, barely endured. By the end of the movie it appears, however, that a lottery ticket and the prospect of lustful marriage to Anne Marie may finally tame Boudu. "For once, both modern morals and the laws of nature are satisfied," says a member of the wedding party. Fortunately, a lily floating on the river and a bad sense of balance bring Boudu back the life he had. He may have been saved from drowning at the start of the movie, but he's saved from bourgeois respectability at the end.

This is a marvelously sophisticated and warm comedy. Everybody has their foibles exposed and no one really gets hurt. Michel Simon as Boudu is simply unique. "I watch Boudu often," says Jean Renoir in a filmed introduction to the movie, "not because I revel in contemplation of my past work, but simply because of Michel Simon." Charles Granval as Lestingois is just about as good.

If you have an all-region DVD player you might consider the Region 1 Criterion DVD presentation. It's first rate. There are several extras which are interesting and informative, including an interview made 35 years later with Renoir and Simon discussing the movie.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Any film by the revered French film director Jean Renoir is well worth a look at, and this one is no exception. Although filmed way back in 1932 it is a charming social comedy that belies its years. It is also a superb elegiac photographic record of an earlier more innocent France. Unkempt, smelly, bearded, sartorially challenged tramp Boudu throws himself into the river Seine to end his miserable existence, where he is saved by affluent bookseller Lestingois who invites him into his home. Bad move! For this act of kindness his ordered world is quickly turned upside down. Boudu lacks any shred of conventional social niceties and prefers to pursue Lestingois's wife and housemaid with the sort of gusto that shows he will not be throwing himself back into the Seine any time soon. The old adage about no good deed going unpunished begins to hold credence. Even Lestigois's greatest pleasure, his nocturnal visits to his housemaids bedroom are put on hold. When asked by the maid if he regretted his decision to allow Boudu in he replies "During the day I am unsure, but at night no". When Boudu spits onto the pages of Balzac's "The Physiology of Marriage", enough is enough.

Michel Simon plays Boudu in a unique idiosyncratic style. His antics are surprising for the time, taking uncouth to the limits. Apparently 1932 audiences were shocked by his antics which does not surprise me. Gerard Depardieu revived the role in more recent years. The Hollywood film "Down and Out in Beverley Hills"(1986) was also based on the film. Collisions across the classes have always held good dramatic and comedic material. "Lady Chatterly's Lover" being a more obvious example. Considering what clumsy equipment filmmakers of the period worked with, it is surprising how much is shot outside, which gives the film its great feel for a lost France. There are some lovely shots on the water where blu-ray often comes into its own. This is an excellent restoration up there with Renoir's other classics "La Grande Illusion" and "French Cancan". I rather like the films ending which is typical of Boudu's free spirit. The film is short but sweet, leaving you with that nice feelgood factor. It is certainly well worth watching if you have never seen it before.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 November 2013
One of the most notable things about this Park Circus DVD is that its restoration (via labs in Bologna and Paris) of Jean Renoir's 1932 comic masterpiece is simply stunning (and also, for the 'Renoir completists', contains 12 seconds of previously unseen - and deliberately un-subtitled - footage, the scene where Boudu spits into the Balzac book, The Physiology of Marriage). Otherwise, of course, Boudu remains one of the most anarchic, subversive and risqué comedies, certainly of its time and arguably has maintained this position ever since. In terms of Renoir's contemporaries, for me, it is reminiscent and has common (radical) elements with films such as Luis Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou and L'Age d'Or (which preceded Boudu) and Jean Vigo's later Zero de Conduite.

Of course, at the heart of Renoir's 'farce' (a term commonly used to label Boudu, but which, for me, understates its inventiveness and social significance) is a bravura performance from the great Michel Simon as the dishevelled, eccentric, anarchic (and suicidal) tramp, Boudu, whose attempts to end it all by throwing himself into the Seine are thwarted by Charles Granval's benevolent, aristocratic (well, middle-class, certainly) bookseller, Édouard Lestingois. Thereafter, horror of horrors, Boudu reveals himself not to be the grateful, fawning apologist that Lestingois and wife Emma are (perhaps) expecting, but instead a defiant and fussy house guest ('Where would you be if Monsieur hadn't saved you? In heaven'). Of course, (as was the man's wont) Renoir's film is full of great satirical lines and moments of sharp social commentary as Lestingois exclaims, 'We have a piano because we're respectable people'. Indeed, the film's opening is also a comic tour-de-force as Boudu loses his dog, only to be treated with disdain on his appeal to the police, who then 'about-turn' in their attitude to being helpful public servants on receiving a similar appeal from a young, aristocratic 'lady' - similarly, Boudu demonstrates his unconventionality as a 'tramp' by offering money to another well-heeled gent!

Renoir's other main theme here is that of promiscuity and 'earthiness'. Each of Lestingois ('My pipes are worn out') and Boudu have lascivious intentions towards the former's maid, Sévérine Lerczinska's playful and flirtatious Anne-Marie, whilst even Lestingois' other half, Marcel Hainia's officious and resentful Emma, cannot (eventually) resist Boudu's earthy charms, which turn her into a rapacious hussy - and her, slowly revealed, lascivious, smiling face (following Boudu's seduction) is, for me, a highlight scene.

Production-wise, Renoir's film is relatively unfussy, but contains some nice shots of night-time Paris, evocative boat scenes on the Seine, plus an exuberant marching band sequence. Jean Boulze's periodic flute-playing also adds a light, airy touch to proceedings.

Of course, in true 'silent great' tradition, Boudu's fortunes change (miraculously) for the better via his unexpected lottery win, but then (equally predictably) neither this turn of fortune, nor Anne-Marie's agreement to become 'Mrs Boudu'. will turn him from his 'natural path' in life, culminating in the final hilarious 'scarecrow scene'. For me, Boudu is a comic creation to be treasured and given to us by one of cinema's greatest creative artists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2012
If you own the DVD of this classic Renoir film or even if you were considering buying one- I say HOLD IT!. Get this Blu-Ray instead. The restoration is simply stunning! for such an old and venerable film. I think this is where the Blu Ray really comes to the fore- when you see these restored B & W classics. The grain and clarity here are beyond anything I could have hoped for! Given that Renoir shot so much of it outside in natural light adds to the enjoyment of the film like never before! Renoir's style has always remained fresh no matter how many years have gone by.
A few of the shots in the film are in soft focus, but as a note tells you before the film starts, this is down to Renoir's choice of lens for these shots rather than a fault in the film itself. Additionally there is a 12 sec bit of film that has been put back in for this restoration, and those seconds are just as pristine as the rest of the film although deliberately left without subtitles, as the Blu ray box informs us.
Wow! Now if only someone would do a similar job on 'The Crime on Monsieur Lange' and 'Une partie de campagne',I'd be a happy man! (There are already Blu ray restorations on 'La Grande Illusion' & 'La Règle du jeu': although I have not seen the latter, the La grande Illusion restoration is also terrific.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2013
A brilliantly clear restoration which does justice to the contradictory genius of the film. Comedy of manners, grotesque, satire, farce, carnivalesque, slapstick - it's all here with the repellently lovable anti-Chaplin Michel Simon and a wonderfully ambiguous set of performances from the 'bourgeoisie' and their maid as they complacently deliver Boudu from despair. The 'saving' means little when the child-man tampers with their 'things' but then they can't repel his lustier appetites as they are too attractive to repel for those caught in the trap of adulthood which is disgusted by spit and filth but not desire. Not fully predictable circular plot with comic mockery abounding and the animalistic Boudu brilliantly physicalised as a lumbering nemesis who they're glad, but not glad, to be rid of. And yet, the bourgeois we also like for their equally ambiguous reactions to him. Actually not a skewering of bourgeois morality, but an understanding exposing of its contradictions at which we might smile and weep a little. Beautiful camerawork by the river is also contrasted with the largely straightforward and unpoetic interiors. A film which is always working in oppositions, appropriately given its thematic tension. Time flies.
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This movie by Jean Renoir is a variation on the theme of the 'noble savage', here in the shoes of a tramp played superbly by a young Michel Simon.
The 'noble savage' is obviously totally unsuited for bourgeois life and certainly for monogamy. His sexual drive is not yet 'tamed'.
He is only comfortable in the open nature with his comrades, the animals, even if he survives merely through 'donations' by the bourgeois.
The 'noble savage' is also a 'good male', a theme dear to Jean Renoir. He treated it wonderfully in his short film `A Day in the Country' based on the story by Guy de Maupassant.
The movie is also an admirable evocation of the atmosphere of a city (Paris) and its crowds in the years before 1940 in Europe.
Masterfully directed (perfectly natural acting by its cast) this movie is a masterpiece of real French cinema.
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on 27 August 2013
Epitome of libertarian and anti-bourgeois utopia that is the Renoir cinema in the 30s. Renoir affection for Lestingois, tolerant (if not to spit in the physiology of marriage Balzac), hedonistic (except when asleep before joining Anne-Marie) rather a real nice guy, and the film is not so much a clash of order and anarchy than the temptation of the first to the second.... cd
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2015
Too old-fashioned and histrionic. Disappointing
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