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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 They both begin an affair, all the while Roubaud becomes increasingly withdrawn and starts to gamble.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 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: I can't go on. I can't go on.
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

 
A Pre-Noir Film?
29 March 2016 | by gavin6942See all my reviews

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

Renoir confessed that at the time when he wrote the screenplay, he had not read Zola's novel in over 25 years: "While I was shooting, I kept modifying the scenario, bringing it closer to Zola ... the dialogue which I gave Simone Simon is almost entirely copied from Zola's text. Since I was working at top speed, I'd re-read a few pages of Zola every night, to make sure I wasn't overlooking anything." Now, I never read the novel at all, and I suspect most who have seen the film have not either. Perhaps this could be a strike against it, but it seems to me that the more obscure the novel, the more liberty you can take. Zola may not be "obscure", but certainly not the big name he once was.

The fact this is considered a precursor to film noir make it all the more interesting. Indeed, it has all the grit of a noir, and the murder aspects make it appropriate to be put in the genre. I suppose it could be called this... now I am curious what other films are considered precursors and at what point the genre came into its own.


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