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

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir  |  19 February 1940 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 4,392 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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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 They both begin an affair, all the while Roubaud becomes increasingly withdrawn and starts to gamble.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 | Film-Noir

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 P.R.O.F.S. (1985) 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 human beast
5 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jean Renoir's "La Bete Humaine" (1938) stars Jean Gabin and Simone Simon in an adaptation of Emile Zola's novel. Renoir's novel is part of a series following a family. Lantier (Gabin) suffers from an inherited illness, possibly a chemical dysfunction. He's given to violent outbursts. He falls for the beautiful and childlike Sevarin (Simon) who, with her husband, kills her lover. Lantier witnesses this. Sevarin wants him to help kill her husband.

This is a beautifully photographed, bleak story with the symbolism of the railroad (Lanier is a railway engineer) running through it. Gabin is terrific as the tragic Lanier, and Simone Simon is effective as the woman.

Fritz Lang's later film "Human Desire" is also based on the Zola novel, but the Renoir version has more layers, particularly in the characterizations.

Highly recommended.


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