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

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  19 February 1940 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 4,205 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 27 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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Title: La Bête Humaine (1938)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Roubaud (as Ledoux Sociétaire de la Comédie Française)
Blanchette Brunoy ...
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)
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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 They both begin an affair, all the while Roubaud becomes increasingly withdrawn and starts to gamble.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

La Lison, the name of the locomotive, is also the name of a river (Le Lison) in eastern France, in the département of Le Doubs in the region of La Franche-Comté. See more »

Quotes

Jacques Lantier: I can't go on. I can't go on.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Histoire(s) du cinéma: Seul le cinéma (1997) 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

The dark side of Renoir.
9 June 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

La Bete Humaine, by far the darkest of Renoir's early films, is based on a novel by noted French author Emile Zola, who focuses in this story on three seemingly unrelated characters who meet on a train and whose lives soon intersect. Renoir opens with some astonishing footage of a train passing through various French villages and stations. This showcases Renoir's remarkable ability to move his camera anywhere, able to capture any angle or type of image. After this, the film slightly regresses into a somewhat depressing and twisted story of a man with a dark past, a femme fatale type with her own perverse history and her husband caught in the middle of tragedy and jealousy.

Perhaps the most perplexing element about this film is how well it captures the mood and tone of such a film; it feels much heavier than Hollywood films of the type made in the late 1930s and 1940s. Within it can be found traces of Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice and a dozen other film noirs. Indeed, some consider this to be the first of its kind and it can certainly lay claim to that title.

Overall, this may not be one of Renoir's stronger achievements but it still bolsters strong performances, especially from the remarkable Jean Gabin and sexy Simone Simon, fluid camera-work and a dark and titillating story that may seem old and clichéd now but was in fact a proponent of many of those conventions we take for granted.


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