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The Lower Depths (1936)
"Les bas-fonds" (original title)

7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,787 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 21 critic

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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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Pepel Wasska
Suzy Prim ...
Vassilissa Kostyleva
Louis Jouvet ...
Le baron
Jany Holt ...
Nastia
Vladimir Sokoloff ...
Kostylev
Robert Le Vigan ...
L'acteur alcoolique
Camille Bert ...
Le comte
René Génin ...
Louka - le philosophe (as René Genin)
Paul Temps ...
Satine - le télégraphiste
Robert Ozanne ...
Jabot de Travers
Henri Saint-Isle ...
Klestch - le cordonnier (as Saint-Iles)
Alex Allin ...
Tatar
André Gabriello ...
Toptoun - l'inspecteur des garnis
Léon Larive ...
Felix - le valet du baron
Nathalie Alexeeff ...
Anna - un pauvresse qui se meurt
Edit

Storyline

The winner of the Louis Delluc Prize as the most outstanding French photo-play of 1936, as selected by the Young Independent Critics of France (an organization and not a description.) The film treats the imprisoning hold of poverty; the disheartening odds of people rising from such social despair, and the ease in which those in the upper spheres of Society may descend. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 September 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Lower Depths  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Tobis-Klangfilm)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

French visa # 365 delivered on 10-11-1936. See more »

Goofs

As Kostylev lies dead on the anvil, the shadow of the camera can be seen approaching on the ground. See more »

Quotes

Vassilissa Kostyleva: One day, everything will be ours. We'll go away together. To live the good life where no one knows us.
Wasska Pepel: Stop it.
Vassilissa Kostyleva: You don't love me anymore. Why not?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The last scene zooms out and fades away to the end title: 'FIN'. See more »

Connections

Version of Na dne (1952) See more »

Soundtracks

Title unknown
Lyrics by Charles Spaak
Sung by Irène Joachim
See more »

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User Reviews

French perspective of poverty, love and death.
8 June 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Having seen Akira Kurosawa's 1957 version of the Maxim Gorky play prior to Jean Renoir's 1936 adaptation, I must admit that they couldn't be more different despite being rooted in the same material. Certainly the characters and situations are similar but the tone utilized by each of these world-class directors is so vast in comparison it bears mentioning. While Kurosawa insisted on focusing on these people's problems and their desperation to escape the futility of their world by remaining within the impoverished setting for the entire film, Renoir takes a lighter side by exploring the outside world, showing various methods of escape these characters dream of.

As with Kurosawa, the main focus of Renoir is the love triangle between the thief (played here remarkably by the subtle Jean Gabin) and two sisters, the elder shrill one being the landlord's wife and the other being rather sweet, gentle and somewhat innocent. To me, Renoir plays it better although it is certainly possible that Kurosawa meant specifically to showcase the love triangle as bleak as possible. As for Renoir, he gives all the characters something to say or reminisce about, usually love and death, life and happiness. The rhythm of the dialogue is so melodic and harmonious, it is one of the easiest listening experiences of any foreign film. The conversations between characters is brief but full of meaning, making for a terrific audience experience.

In short, both Renoir and Kurosawa's versions should be viewed although for different reasons. To see Kurosawa's is to see a master director able to balance several characters and story-lines all while maintaining the tone and decorum of futile loneliness. Renoir does the same, only with that particular French joie de vivre. Whatever is to your liking, rest assured each of these films will deliver.


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