A charismatic thief makes friends with a bankrupt baron who comes to live in the thief's slum. Meanwhile the thief seeks the love of a young woman, who is held emotionally captive by her slumlord family.
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Cashier Maurice Legrand is married to Adele, a terror. By chance, he meets Lucienne, "Lulu", and makes her his mistress. He thinks he finally met love, but Lulu is nothing but a streetwalker, in love with Dede, her pimp. She only accepts Legrand to satisfy Dede's needs of money. Written by
If you're someone who likes the films of Jean Renoir this is a must-see that's my highest praise. It's pretty essential in the history of French cinema too, although the keeping of it in perspective is now absolutely essential thanks to the onslaught of Time. As someone who has loved the works of Renoir all my life I don't know why it's taken me decades to get round to La Chienne - I've had it to watch for years, but at least I've finally managed it. Advice: don't leave it too long.
Timid art-loving bank clerk with a scold for a wife who carries a torch for her dead previous husband falls in love with a woman who carries a torch for her rather violent waster of a boyfriend. Everyone is on the make, everyone is dislikeable, and everyone gets what they deserve with one apparent exception. Michel Simon as Legrand acted his heart out surrounded by the circling human sharks, both direct and in the case of all the art-dealers, indirect. In Boudu he became a rather shabby shark. Janie Marese also had an intensely realistic part in the Tart without a heart Lulu a tragedy that she died in a car crash on the way to the film's premiere. The gleaming photography was inventive for the time, almost magical in its spareness, and you're utterly immersed the world of 1931 its atmosphere, its people and their mores. The sound was a bit primitive, but it is in real life.
Marvellous stuff - the realism is complete, it's either a human tragicomedy or not, or a simple dark moral tale or not or nothing at all, or not. Anyway, imho it's most definitely a perfect companion piece for the classic Boudu which was to follow the next year from Renoir.
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