7.6/10
1,051
5 user 6 critic

They Were Five (1936)

La belle équipe (original title)
Trailer
1:42 | Trailer
Five unemployed penniless workers win 100,000 Francs with the national lottery. Instead of sharing the money, they buy a ruin and build an open-air cafe. But difficulties come to split their friendly group apart.

Director:

Julien Duvivier

Writers:

Julien Duvivier (scenario), Charles Spaak (scenario)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean Gabin ... Jean dit Jeannot
Charles Vanel ... Charles dit Charlot
Raymond Aimos ... Raymond dit Tintin
Viviane Romance ... Gina
Jacques Baumer Jacques Baumer ... Monsieur Jubette
Marcelle Géniat ... La grand' mère
Raymond Cordy ... L'ivrogne
Charles Granval ... Le propriétaire
Micheline Cheirel ... Huguette
Rafael Medina Rafael Medina ... Mario (as Raphaël Medina)
Charles Dorat Charles Dorat ... Jacques
Robert Lynen ... René
Robert Ozanne Robert Ozanne ... Le patron du bistrot
Robert Moor Robert Moor ... Un locataire
Marcel Maupi Marcel Maupi ... Un copain (as Maupi)
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Storyline

Those five are unemployed penniless workers. Together they win 100,000 Francs with the national lottery. Instead of sharing the money, they buy a ruin and build an open-air cafe. But difficulties come to split their friendly group apart: former wife, police tracking one of them (Spanish republican refugee), jealousy... Written by Yepok

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Plot Keywords:

police | money | jealousy | gun | murder | See All (27) »

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Filmed by Julien Duvivier, French ace director, starring Jean Gabin, foremost Continental star. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is one of over 200 titles in the list of independent feature films made available for television presentation by Advance Television Pictures announced in Motion Picture Herald 4 April 1942. At this time, television broadcasting was in its infancy, almost totally curtailed by the advent of World War II, and would not continue to develop until 1945-1946. Because of poor documentation (feature films were often not identified by title in conventional sources) no record has yet been found of its initial television broadcast. See more »

Goofs

When the guys are on the roof during the storm, the wires that are making the shingles fly are visible. See more »

Alternate Versions

The original ending is bleak and violent. After the movie did poorly in theaters, a new, happier ending was shot. This lighter version is the one that has been seen for decades. The Swiss Cinematheque has a print of the darker version, which has now been shown at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The 2015 restoration also uses the darker version. See more »


Soundtracks

Quand on s'Promène au Bord de l'Eau
Music by Maurice Yvain
Lyrics by Julien Duvivier
Performed by Jean Gabin
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User Reviews

 
A national film of the French poetic realism
10 December 2010 | by ilpohirvonenSee all my reviews

La belle equipe or They Were Five is often praised as the highest achievement of Julien Duvivier. It's French poetic realism at its finest - a style whose most remembered representatives are: L'Atalante (1934) by Jean Vigo and Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion (1937). When Charles Spaak had just finished the screenplay of La belle equipe the master Jean Renoir got actually very interested in it and wanted to film it, but Julien Duvivier had already bought the rights for it. One can't help but wonder how different the film might have been if Renoir would've filmed it. At least it would've gained much more reputation, but no one can no whether it would have been better, because Duvivier was a very talented filmmaker as well. La belle equipe represents the French optimism (1935-36), it's also a true national film and an interesting contemporary description of the working class.

A group of five penniless workers wander around the streets of Paris. They live in a lousy block of flats, whose landlord put the light out immediately by 9 pm. One night when they are playing cards in the darkness, a pleasant message arrives: they've just won 100, 000 Francs with the lottery. After a quick enthusiasm they realize that the amount won't last through their whole life: so they decide to buy and reconstruct a small resort out of town. Eventually wealth and fortune start to rip the group apart and unpredictable events begin to occur.

Julien Duvivier first shows the miserable life of the workers: he shows them hanging in the streets, leaning on dirty walls and hiding from cops. The happy twist seems quite surreal, but the series of events it occurs is far more interesting. As I mentioned above the film represents the optimism in France during that time: is it possible for the working class to go and work on their own outside of the society? It's quite hard to know what Duvivier thought himself because he filmed two different endings: a pessimist ending for the bourgeoisie and an optimist one for the working class, which is far more well known and often the ending distributed in Europe.

No matter what Duvivier himself thought, - is it possible in this society for the working class to stand up and do what they've dreamed of, La belle equipe is a poetic description of its time. It beautifully exhales the optimism of the short era in France before the WWII, which Jean Renoir tried to prevent with his poetic masterpiece La Grande Illusion. La belle equipe is a true national film.


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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

31 May 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

They Were Five See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ciné-Arys See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA High Fidelity)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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