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Toni (1935)

 |  Drama  |  4 November 1936 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 845 users  
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In the 1920s, the Provence is a magnet for immigrants seeking work in the quarries or in the agriculture. Many mingle with locals and settle down permanently - like Toni, an Italian who has... See full summary »



(screenplay), (story), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview:
Charles Blavette ...
Celia Montalván ...
Josefa (as Celia Montalvan)
Édouard Delmont ...
Fernand (as Delmont)
Max Dalban ...
Albert (as Dalban)
Jenny Hélia ...
Marie (as Jenny Helia)
Michel Kovachevitch ...
Sebastian (as M. Kovachevicht)
Andrex ...


In the 1920s, the Provence is a magnet for immigrants seeking work in the quarries or in the agriculture. Many mingle with locals and settle down permanently - like Toni, an Italian who has moved in with Marie, a Frenchwoman. Even a well-ordered existence is not immune from boredom, friendship, love, or enmity, and Toni gets entangled in a web of increasingly passionate relationships. For there is his best pal Fernand, but also Albert, his overbearing foreman; there is Sebastian, a steady Spanish peasant, but also Gabi, his young rogue relative; there is Marie, but there is also Josefa. Written by Eduardo Casais <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

4 November 1936 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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At c. 57 minutes a hot dish of ratatouille is taken out of the oven and put on the table. Moments later the baby touches the edge of the dish with no ill effects whatsoever. See more »

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User Reviews

A special case in Renoir's oeuvre
18 April 2006 | by See all my reviews

"Toni" did not continue the ferocious works of the early thirties which made Renoir the first director of the era.Gone were the attacks against the bourgeoisie which we found in "La Chienne" "Boudu Sauvé des Eaux" and even in the adaptations of novels from the nineteenth century such as "Madame Bovary" and "Nana".Toni is a special case in Renoir's work.It was probably his most accessible film of the era.It was at once his simplest and yet most complex effort .

Produced by Pagnol,in Pagnol's country,La Provence,with some of Pagnol's actors(Andrex was featured in "Angèle" whereas Charles Blavette was part of the cast of "La Femme du Boulanger"),it might look like a Pagnolesque movie but do not rely on appearances.Both the prologue and the epilogue could not be in a Pagnol movie in which the modern world (a bridge,an oil refinery)is almost absent.Unlike Pagnol,there's no humor or bonhomie in "Toni".The characters have not that colorful side which is Raimu's and Fernandel's trademarks.

It has been said a lot of times that "Toni" predated the Italian Neorealism by fifteen years .It's true for the prologue and the epilogue which frame the movie : the Italian workers coming to France to find a job in the railway station then on their way to the country of milk and honey,so to speak ,make me think of De Santis's "Risco Amaro" and of course De Sica's "Ladri di biciclette".But,as Jacques Lourcelles wrote,Italian Neorealism's main concern was to depict the immediate present,and Renoir 's movie's core is a story close to what the French called "chansons réalistes ",a field where Frehel and Edith Piaf won fame.The fact that it's based on a true story does not matter much:it could be a short news item.

"Toni" is ,no more ,no less,the story of characters constantly tearing each other apart.The hero,in love with Josepha,marries Marie and both of them aren't happy.As for Josepha she marries a brute and she lives with her husband and her cousin,a despicable coward.All that Toni and Josepha try to do to escape from an ominous fate backfires against them:the ending is telling since the two lovers ,trying to save each other,precipitate their ruin.

Admirable sequences:Toni and Josepha ,on the path,where she claims a bee is in her blouse;Marie,in her boat on the lake,intending to commit suicide ,a scene superbly filmed by Claude Renoir;Toni,desperately running on the bridge.

Renoir used to see La Provence as a tower of Babel (he told us so at the beginning of his film) ,the French (or Latin more like) melting pot.Spanish ,Italian guys joined their French brothers.And it's important to notice it,those aliens are not treated as inferiors ,or at least Renoir shows them so.

Minor quibble:Charles Blavette is not well cast as Toni;he 's got the famous Provençal accent whereas he is supposed to be an Italian!

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