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Backbiters (1927)

Une vie sans joie (original title)
About the conflict between social classes through the life of the unhappy Catherine Ferrand, an orphan girl, who is a victim of the jealousy of women and the greed of men.


Albert Dieudonné (co-director), Jean Renoir (co-director)


Pierre Lestringuez (adaptation), Jean Renoir (screenplay)




Credited cast:
Catherine Hessling ... Catherine Férand
Albert Dieudonné ... Maurice Laisné
Eugénie Nau ... Madame Laisné
Pierre Lestringuez Pierre Lestringuez ... Adolphe - le maquereau (as Pierre Philippe)
Pierre Champagne Pierre Champagne ... Le fils Mallet
Louis Gauthier ... Le député Georges Mallet
Oléo Oléo ... Une fille
Jean Renoir ... Le sous-préfet
Maud Richard Maud Richard ... Madame Mallet
Georges Térof Georges Térof ... Gédéon Grave
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Claude Autant-Lara ... (as Claude Moore)
Pierre Brasseur ... Le type de l'appareil à sous
Pierre Braunberger Pierre Braunberger
André Cerf André Cerf
Julio de Romero Julio de Romero


About the conflict between social classes through the life of the unhappy Catherine Ferrand, an orphan girl, who is a victim of the jealousy of women and the greed of men.

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The first film directed by Jean Renoir. See more »

User Reviews

Renoir Stylistics Ambiguous
15 February 2013 | by LobotomousMonkSee all my reviews

A solid review of the narrative plot points has been provided already, however, what I find most interesting about Renoir's initiation into directing with Une Vie Sans Joie is the blend of two stylistic systems that Renoir employed in later films. The first system clearly has influences from Gance and the French Impressionist filmmakers, where rapid editing montage sequences and prolonged angular close-up shots create pace, rhythm and tone but also insight to character psychology and emotion. The second stylistic system is the unique system that has contributed to Renoir's fame and influence as a filmmaker the world over. The long take and mobile framing are not so present in this particular film, however, there are ample opportunities taken to frame a collective of characters using deep staging and deep focus (depth of field). It has been commented before that the co-directing credits of this film beg the question as to what contributions Renoir made from the director's chair. For myself, it would seem that given the two stylistic systems working in conjunction within this film, that Renoir's presence is likely dominant. I conjecture that Dieudonne would likely have been struggling to keep pace with Renoir's vision for the scenario. The film does indeed have a frenetic pace and there is a tangible struggle within the direction that heightens and reflects... even compliments the story itself. It is too modest to think of Renoir's early films as mere vehicles for Hessling's brand... but perhaps a co-directed piece was itself a sound launching point on all fronts.

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None | French

Release Date:

9 November 1927 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Backbiters See more »

Filming Locations:

Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Les Films Jean Renoir See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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