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La Bête Humaine (1938)
"La bête humaine" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  19 February 1940 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 3,944 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 26 critic

In this classic adaptation of Emile Zola's novel, a tortured train engineer falls in love with a troubled married woman who has helped her husband commit a murder.

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(novel), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Roubaud (as Ledoux Sociétaire de la Comédie Française)
Blanchette Brunoy ...
Flore
Gérard Landry ...
Le fils Dauvergne (as Gerard Landry)
Jenny Hélia ...
Philomène Sauvagnat (as Jenny Helia)
Colette Régis ...
Victoire Pecqueux (as Colette Regis)
Claire Gérard ...
Une voyageuse (as Claire Gerard)
Charlotte Clasis ...
Tante Phasie, la marraine de Lantier (as Germaine Clasis)
Jacques Berlioz ...
Grandmorin (as Berlioz)
Tony Corteggiani ...
Dabadie, le chef de section (as Cortegianni)
André Tavernier ...
Le juge d'instruction Denizet
Marcel Pérès ...
Un lampiste (as Perez)
...
Cabuche
Julien Carette ...
Pecqueux (as Carette)
Edit

Storyline

Jacques Lantier is a train engineer who is prone to violent seizures, a condition he attributes to his forefathers' habit of excessive drinking. Roubaud is a train conductor on the same railroad that Lantier works on, married to the much younger Séverine. When Roubaud catches wind of his wife's affair with her godfather, the wealthy M. Grandmorin, he kills him during a train journey in a fit of jealousy. He makes sure that Séverine is also present, making her an accomplice to murder. Lantier, despite having witnessed them quite clearly in the train corridor, hides the fact during the investigation as he is attracted to Séverine. They both begin an affair, all the while Roubaud becomes increasingly withdrawn and starts to gamble. Séverine urges Lantier to kill her husband so that they would be free but she is unaware of Lantier's unfortunate condition. Written by Soumitra

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 February 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Human Beast  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Severine likes Malaga wine. Malaga is a sweet fortified wine from the Spanish city of Málaga and is made from Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes. See more »

Quotes

Jacques Lantier: Pecqueux, I have to tell you something. Don't say a word and don't move. I killed her. That's right, I killed her. It's all over. I'll never see her again. It'll be the death of me, I know it. I couldn't bear to hold her anymore. I loved her, you know? I loved her little hands most of all. But there's one thing I don't get: why haven't they arrested me?
See more »


Soundtracks

Le coeur de Ninon
(uncredited)
Lyrics by Maurice Nouhaud (1900)
Music by E. Becucci (from waltz "Tesoro mio")
Sung by Marcel Veyran
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A breathtaking Gabin
17 July 2010 | by (Netherlands) – See all my reviews

In all his splendid career, Jean Gabin can seldom have acted better than in 'La bete humaine' (= French for 'the human beast'). I do not exaggerate when I label his performance as breathtaking.

Apart from this, 'La bete humaine' is an excellently made film. Competent acting, to start with -- for instance by female lead Simone Simon, a forgotten name. This film's setting in a French railroad-environment adds the right amount of drama, and provides a solid foundation for its plot. According to the technical standards of 1938, its shooting is first-class.

'La bete humaine' is a novel from the Rougon-Maquart-series by the great French author Emile Zola. Back in the second half of the 19th century, Zola wrote 'naturalism': an ultra-realistic style with a bottom-line of pessimism. Coincidence or not, this style fits well with the year 1938, when Adolf Hitler's dark shade was already looming over Europe.


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