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La Bête Humaine (1938)

La bête humaine (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama | 19 February 1940 (USA)
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.

Director:

Jean Renoir

Writers:

Émile Zola (novel), Jean Renoir (screenplay)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean Gabin ... Jacques Lantier
Simone Simon ... Séverine Roubaud
Fernand Ledoux ... Roubaud (as Ledoux sociétaire de la Comédie-Française)
Blanchette Brunoy ... Flore
Gérard Landry Gérard Landry ... Le fils Dauvergne (as Gerard Landry)
Jenny Hélia Jenny Hélia ... Philomène Sauvagnat (as Jenny Helia)
Colette Régis Colette Régis ... Victoire Pecqueux (as Colette Regis)
Claire Gérard Claire Gérard ... Une voyageuse (as Claire Gerard)
Charlotte Clasis Charlotte Clasis ... Tante Phasie, la marraine de Lantier (as Germaine Clasis)
Jacques Berlioz Jacques Berlioz ... Grandmorin (as Berlioz)
Tony Corteggiani Tony Corteggiani ... Dabadie, le chef de section (as Cortegianni)
André Tavernier André Tavernier ... Le juge d'instruction Denizet
Marcel Pérès Marcel Pérès ... Un lampiste (as Perez)
Jean Renoir ... 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 They both begin an affair, all the while Roubaud becomes increasingly withdrawn and starts to gamble.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

Taglines:

From the novel "La Bete Humaine" a drama of consuming passions, directed by Jean Renoir

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

19 February 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La Bête Humaine See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paris Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Severine gives Roubaud a Nogent knife, which he is impressed with. The region of Nogent-Bassigny is a centre of French cutlery manufacture. It also the name of a company that makes knives and similar items. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jacques Lantier: Did you feel that?
See more »

Connections

Version of La bestia humana (1957) 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 blanche-2See 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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