19 user 12 critic

Gervaise (1956)

A poor laundrywoman tries to cope with a depressing burden of society.


René Clément


Émile Zola (novel), Jean Aurenche | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Maria Schell ... Gervaise Macquart Coupeau, une blanchisseuse douce et courageuse
François Périer ... Coupeau - le second compagnon de Gervaise, un ouvrier zingueur
Jany Holt ... Mme Lorilleux - la soeur revêche de Coupeau
Mathilde Casadesus Mathilde Casadesus ... Mme Boche - la concierge curieuse
Florelle ... Maman Coupeau - la vieille mère de Coupeau
Micheline Luccioni ... Clémence - une blanchisseuse, ouvrière chez Gervaise
Lucien Hubert Lucien Hubert ... M. Poisson - un gendarme le mari de Virginie
Jacques Harden ... Goujet - un forgeron, ami de Gervaise et de Coupeau
Jacques Hilling Jacques Hilling ... M. Boche - le mari de la concierge
Amédée Amédée ... Mes Bottes - un camarade de Coupeau
Hubert de Lapparent Hubert de Lapparent ... M. Lorilleux - un chaîniste, le mari souffreteux de Mme Lorilleux (as Hubert Lapparent)
Hélène Tossy Hélène Tossy ... Mme Bijard
Rachel Devirys ... Mme Fauconnier (as Rachel Devyris)
Jacqueline Morane Jacqueline Morane ... Mme Gaudron
Yvonne Claudie Yvonne Claudie ... Mme Putois - une invitée au repas de fête


Gervaise Macquart, a young lame laundress, is left by her lover Auguste Lantier with two boys... She manages to make it, and a few years later she marries Coupeau, a roofer. After working very hard a few more years, she succeeds in buying her own laundry (her dream)... But Coupeau starts to drink after having fallen from a roof, and Lantier shows up... A faithful adaptation of Emile Zola's novel "L'Assomoir", depicting the fatal degeneration of a family of workers, mainly because of alcohol. Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


This is a woman...a woman you will know...a woman you will live, love and laugh with...but above all, a woman. See more »




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Did You Know?


Maria Schell as won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress in GERVAISE, at the 1956 Venice Film Festival. See more »

Alternate Versions

The original French version is much more risque than the heavily edited US version in at least one scene and probably others: the scene where Maria Schell has a catfight with Suzy Delair, which ends with Schell spanking Delair with a wooden paddle, is much more explicit in the French version which includes scenes of Suzy Delairs' bare behind getting whacked. See more »


Edited into My Sister Maria (2002) See more »


Chanson d'Amanda
Performed by Maria Lopez
See more »

User Reviews

Maria Schell with three children and two failed husbands, who ruin her life
16 March 2020 | by clanciaiSee all my reviews

This is probably Emile Zola's greatest novel in its overwhelming naturalistic revelation of the progress of alcoholism, and René Clement follows the novel conscientiously hardly missing any detail, extremely consistent all the way to the last shattering picture of the ultimate consummation of Gervaise's case. The film reminds very much of the best films of René Clair and Jean Renoir, the public scenes are all marvellous in their genuineness, culminating in the great dinner in the middle of the film, bringing back Gervaise's first husband, who abandoned her with two children at an early stage, whereupon she had to have a husband and found Coupeau the roofer, whom she married and started a new and happier life with, until he fell down from the roof and turned an alcoholic. Well, the film is dominatingly positive most of the part, the street life and common life of the ordinary people of the quarter is depicted with great charm and consistent good humour, while inevitably the tragedy must begin, although fortunately late enough. It is Maria Schell's film, of course, she makes another of her unforgettably lovable female characters, her charm and beauty is always irresistible, and here at times she even provides a striking likeness with one of Raphael's most lovable madonnas. The film is a masterpiece, although somewhat long, while the naturalistic realism of Zola at times becomes unpleasantly overwhelming in its ruthess lack of prudence.

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Release Date:

11 November 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gervaise See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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